Merilee McCormick joined the Bon Appétit team at Mills College in Oakland, CA, as general manager in May 2019, and immediately hit the ground running. She hasn’t stopped since — not even a pandemic can slow down her constant flow of ideas and energy!
As Mills Vice President of Student Life & Dean of Students Chicora Martin summarized around Christmastime: “Merilee and her team transformed our Tea Shop location on campus to not only be a safe and healthy space but also welcoming and supportive of all of our students. Her creative offerings — like foods from her staff’s family traditions, working so closely with our farm for sourcing, and providing groceries for those students who needed safer food access — were vital in the experience of our campus. She packaged quarantine meals with care and adapted to students’ food concerns, continued to work on the process as the landscape shifted pretty much daily, and always asked how she could help more. A prime example is the recent Cookie Decorating Boxes. She provided a small collection of cookies and decorating supplies so our on-campus students could have a bit of the holiday experience at a very reasonable cost. I heard from so many students how this added a bit of holiday cheer to their semester and made things feel just a bit more normal.”
Such hospitality and caretaking comes naturally to Merilee. Before joining Bon Appétit, she owned and managed a large restaurant and also worked in education in early intervention. The mother of two teenagers, she was a Girl Scout leader for seven years and started two parent groups for families of children with special needs: SEED (provides funding for many critical inclusion programs still in the Lafayette School District) and SPSK (Special Parents Special Kids).
“Working for Bon Appétit at Mills has let me combine my love of hospitality, working with students, education, providing excellent service, and great food,” says Merilee.