Dave Theno Food Safety Fellowship | 2018-2019

The Dave Theno Food Safety Fellowship is a partnership between Stop Foodborne Illness and Michigan State University Online Food Safety Program. The Fellow will live and work in Chicago with Stop Foodborne Illness and complete a 12-credit Online Food Safety Certificate with Michigan State University.


Start Date: August 27, 2018 | End Date: August 16, 2019 |

The Fellowship will be offered to one recent graduate (2016-2018) with a food science, or animal science, undergraduate degree from a U.S. Land Grant University.
Preference will be given to those seeking a career in food industry or food regulation.

The Fellow will:

  1. Work in the Stop Foodborne Illness office 35 hours a week.
  2. Complete two projects defined by the Stop and MSU Online Food Safety Directors.
  3. Familiarize themselves with stories on the Honor Wall at www.stopfoodborneillness.org.
  4. Participate in weekly Safe Food Coalition calls; with possible travel to Washington, DC.
  5. Assist Community Coordinator in identified initiatives.
  6. Staff Stop’s booth (with others) at conferences, including the 2019 International Association for Food Protection conference in Louisville, KY.
  7. Attend Creating a Food Safety Culture Executive Education at MSU, May 21-24, 2019.
  8. Talk with the Stop CEO and the MSU OFS Director (ongoing) regarding progress of the Fellowship.
  9. Finish the MSU Food Safety Certificate coursework (12 credits).


A studio apartment is provided for the duration of the Fellowship. It is wholly furnished, including full kitchen, basic cable, and utilities. The building is secure, with no public access. On-site laundry and parking, also available. The Stop Foodborne Illness office is in the same building as the apartment, albeit a separate wing. (But please don’t come to work in your pajamas!)

Located in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood, there are several public transit options serving the area. (Trains: Brown Line, Red Line; Buses: 81 Lawrence, 22 Clark, 50 Damen, 90 Foster, 78 Montrose, 36 Broadway) There are coffee shops, several restaurants, a bank, grocery store, and public park, within a 5-10-minute walk. Shopping, entertainment, and multiple restaurants within 10-20 minutes. The Loop (city center) is about 25 minutes via train.

Lake Michigan and the Lincoln Park Walking/Bike trail is 1.5 miles east of the apartment.

The Fellow will receive health benefits, days off, and is paid every other Friday. Details to be discussed with Operations Director, Maria Krysciak during the first week. The Fellow will be under the direction of Community Coordinator, Stanley Rutledge. Evaluation will be carried out quarterly with Deirdre Schlunegger, CEO of Stop Foodborne Illness and Dr. Melinda Wilkins, Director of MSU Online Food Safety Program.


Stop Foodborne Illness formed under the name Safe Tables Our Priority (STOP) in 1993, out of the collective grief and anger of individuals, whose children and families were unmercifully caught in what became known as the West Coast E. coli Outbreak. Most people had no idea what E. coli was, let alone the kind of havoc it was capable of unleashing.

Propelled by love, confusion, and anger — these mothers, fathers, friends and families knew they had to raise a voice that America would hear. They wanted answers AND change. Above all, they wanted to prevent anyone from having to go through what they had experienced.

Today, Stop Foodborne Illness is a voice for any who want to turn awareness into action.


Stop Foodborne Illness is a national nonprofit public health organization dedicated to the prevention of illness and death from foodborne pathogens by promoting sound food safety policy and best practices, building public awareness, and assisting those impacted by foodborne illness.

Partnering with leaders in food industry, we promote sound food safety policy and best practices from farm to table. We encourage federal and state bodies and agencies to mitigate food safety risks through policy and legislation. For media, government, industry, and consumers, it is our volunteer advocates who provide a human face behind the statistics – a powerful reminder of the need for a vigilant food safety culture.

For those impacted by foodborne pathogens we provide a platform, through our website and a wide-range of speaking opportunities, to share their story. We offer peer-to-peer mentoring for victims and families across the country. We create and maintain an array of beneficial information (downloadable on our website) for anyone seeking more knowledge on foodborne illness. The stories on our website’s Honor Wall are a testament to the strength and endurance of individuals and families. Telling one’s story is often, not only empowering for the storyteller, but thought provoking for the listener.

We empower a broad spectrum of consumers to become food safety advocates where they live, through free resources and up-to-date information. For timely news regarding recalled food and potentially harmful outbreaks, subscribe to our e-Alerts. Likewise, our informative eNews regularly provides constituents and subscribers with relevant food safety-related interviews, and keeps our readers current on the activities of our volunteer advocates, and staff.


The Fellowship includes tuition support to complete a 12 credit, online, Food Safety Certificate with Michigan State University. The Certificate includes three required courses: VM 811 Evolution and Ecology of Foodborne Pathogens, VM 812 Food Safety Toxicology, and VM 831 Food Safety Epidemiology, plus one elective course. Coursework for the MSU Food Safety Certification will be paid for by Stop Foodborne Illness.

For course descriptions and a list of electives, visit http://foodsafety.msu.edu/continuing-education/food-safety.



David Theno

David Theno was a man of action, and was passionate about what it really meant to keep food safe. It was about family. A friendship with one of the founders of Stop Foodborne Illness (who lost a child to E. coli O157:H7) profoundly influenced Dave to keep a photograph of her daughter, Lauren Beth, in his wallet throughout his career, to remind him of the devastation wrought by foodborne pathogens. As a result, he worked tirelessly to create a culture of food safety.

Dave was hired as senior vice president and chief food safety officer for Jack-in-the-Box in 1993, as the San Diego fast food chain was reeling from a massive and deadly outbreak of E. coli O157:H7. Four deaths, including Lauren Beth’s, and hundreds of illnesses were blamed on the burger chain that some said would not survive.

Top management made an early decision to give Theno complete authority over food safety. He implemented a comprehensive Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan and then required a finished product testing protocol, test and hold, that initially irked others in the meat industry before it was almost universally adopted. Theno remained with Jack in the Box for almost 16 years.

Theno earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology and science journalism from Iowa State University and master’s and doctoral degrees in food microbiology and animal sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Theno’s leadership in responding to the 1993 outbreak and challenge of E. coli O157:H7 has been recognized by numerous scientific and industry organizations.

At the time of his death, Dave Theno was CEO of Gray Dog Partners Inc., a food safety consulting business based in Del Mar, CA. He had been CEO since 2009.

Contact Us

Send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search