LITCHFIELD, CONN., Nov. 16, 2022—Forman School has featured Denee Hinman (above, standing, center), CulinArt Group’s director of dining services at this school for high school students and post-graduates with diagnosed learning differences, in its biannual alumni magazine.
Hinman joined CulinArt in 2017 as the director at Forman School after 18 years in dining services. She was named this year as one of two Managers of the Year for CulinArt, an award for which she was nominated for her achievements in Inclusion Excellence. Forman took notice of the award, and spotlighted Hinman in its alumni magazine and on its web site as her efforts coincide with the school’s mission to help Forman students build identities that outshine their diagnoses.
CulinArt Group District Manager Hilary Ham has worked with Hinman for the past two years and nominated her for the award. “It is very important to [Denee] to understand and respect the unique needs, perspectives, and potential of all of her team members,” says Ham. “Every associate, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what disability they have, feels supported in all areas. She has created a group of people with a diverse set of talents by maintaining a trusting workplace environment where each person can shine. She has an amazing team.”
“Denee also strives for inclusion when it comes to ensuring students’ dining services needs are met—and that they feel completely comfortable within the dining realm,” Ham adds.
Hinman started her career as a social worker for a residential treatment facility but eventually pursued her passion for the food industry. Prior to her current role at Forman, she owned a deli and restaurant and served in various capacities in dining services at other independent schools.
“I love working at Forman because it is a place where I can always be myself, and I feel loved,” she says. “There is a level of trust that we have established that allows me to be creative, especially with events. It is a true partnership that I value greatly.”
She adds that she was honored to receive the recognition for her hard work.
“I honor women and different ethnic backgrounds, and I pride myself on educating my team members about the individuals that have disabilities,” Hinman says. “It is in getting to know my staff that I am able to focus on the strengths they bring to the table.”
“It is a true honor to be recognized as Director of the Year, and I hope to someday teach others,” she continues. “There is no job that I can’t do in the kitchen, and on a daily basis, you can find me wiping, sweeping, and even doing dishes. I want to be known for leading with kindness, compassion, and through example.”
In addition, Forman School’s dining team was named Team of the Year in 2021 for delivering hospitality excellence.