2021 Connect Association 15 Over 50: Tracy Stuckrath, CMM, CSEP, CFPM, CHC

Tracy Stuckrath, 52, is the President and Founder of Thrive! Meetings & Events. She's based in New Bern, N.C.

Tracy Stuckrath 15 over 50

Tracy Stuckrath, CMM, CSEP, CFPM, CHC, 52
President and Founder, Thrive! Meetings & Events; Founder and Host, “Eating at a Meeting” Podcast; New Bern, N.C.

What I do: 
I teach individuals and organizations worldwide how not to offend or kill people (or the earth) with and how they provide food and beverage by equipping them with the tools to prepare, order and serve safe, sustainable and inclusive F&B experiences where everyone feels valued. 

How I got here: 
I had been a corporate and association event planner for 12 years when I got diagnosed with a food allergy and realized how hard it is to eat at events. Thrive! Meetings & Events was launched 11 years ago to educate my industry on how to safely feed the millions like me who attend meetings. 

My greatest career accomplishment:
During a global pandemic, I took my speaking and education online, launching the Eating at a Meeting Facebook group, “Eating at a Meeting” podcast (2,600-plus downloads) and Every Meal Matters online course.

Impressive stats: 
I educated more than 30,000 people on five continents in 10 years, which translates into hundreds of thousands of people eating safer and healthier and feeling included.

A specific improvement I’ve made:
Providing education on dietary needs—food allergies, religious practices, lifestyle choices, medical needs—so that millions of people around the world can eat and feel safer and included at food and beverage events. Illuminating that education and conversation to be one that is most definitely an issue of diversity, inclusion and accessibility. The industry needs to understand that it’s not just what we put on the plate, but how did it get to the plate, and what access do we provide for others to recieve that plate. 

What I am working on right now:
There are actually three things I’m working on and excited about every day: the Eating at a Meeting Facebook group, Eating at a Meeting podcast and Every Meal Matters online course.

What I do outside of work: 
I exercise, house/dog sit, golf and have started to get involved with the local community to which I moved two years ago. 

Favorite vacation destination:
The beach. And, anywhere I can take my nieces and nephews on experience trips. We’ve attended Broadway plays in New York City and Los Angeles, and The Fringe Festival, Sundance Film Festival and a college football championship game. We’ve also taken road trips to hike national parks and toured Washington, D.C. My favorite hotel would have to be the Four Seasons Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Your favorite inspirational quote: 
“Food is our common ground. A universal experience.” —James Beard

Public figure I admire most: 
Emily Brown, the founder of Food Equality Initiative (FEI). As a mother of two young girls with food allergies who was purchasing food for her family within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), she quickly realized there were not a lot of options for her. She therefore founded FEI, a registered 501(c)(3) in 2014 and launched the nation’s first allergy-friendly and gluten-free food pantry, ReNewed Health with New Haven SDA Church. Since then, FEI has become the leading organization working to increase access to allergy-friendly and gluten-free foods to individuals who need them the most across the country. Emily has been at the forefront of a movement, calling attention to the challenges of living with food allergies and celiac disease—including campaigning on Capitol Hill to fight for changes in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children’s (WIC) Food Package.

Facebook: thrivemeetingsevents
Twitter: @thrivemeetings@tstuckrath
Instagram: @tstuckrath