Lori Stephens is a 22-year veteran of the restaurant and foodservice industry, with a strong background in food safety, food quality, and business and technology development in the food industry. Lori’s professional passion is working to create opportunities that enable organizations and teams to drive continuous improvement. She most enjoys using her first-hand, hard-won knowledge of the needs of the industry to develop and implement comprehensive strategic solutions, not just a single product/process/service, that organizations and teams need to accomplish their responsibilities and live up to their full potential.
In early 2020, Lori joined Active Food Safety, LLC, as a Partner and serves as General Manager. Active Food Safety (AFS) consists of an experienced team of food safety professionals, thought leaders, and product designers dedicated to bringing the best solutions to modern food safety management to the Food Industry. AFS provides best-in-class, tactical, and practical solutions to directly solve your food safety and public health challenges.
In mid-2017, Lori launched a consulting company, BLAZE Advisory + Technical, LLC, to provide strategic advisement and tactical technical support in food safety, quality, and compliance for restaurants, foodservice, and retail companies, and the third-parties providing services to these companies.
Prior to starting BLAZE, Lori worked with NSF International as Business Development Director for Food. She worked closely and collaboratively with key Retail, Restaurants, and Food Manufacturing prospects/accounts and NSF personnel across the globe to create, deploy, and manage Sales plans for NSF International food programs to achieve annual sales objectives. Prior to joining NSF International, Lori held the role of New Business Development Director at ABC Research Laboratories in Gainesville, FL, where she focused on prospects/clients and innovative third-party solution offerings in the restaurant and foodservice industries.
Previously, Lori spent over eleven years with Darden Restaurants, the world's largest full-service restaurant company. As Director of Total Quality for Commodities, Lori led teams responsible for program development, implementation, data management, supply chain compliance and continuous improvement of supplier food safety and quality standards. She was also responsible for the food safety and quality of all commodity products purchased by all Darden brands, and worked directly with culinary experts, food scientists, nutritionists, restaurant operators, and vendor partners on a broad range of product and processes.
Before joining Darden, Lori acted as Citrus Sales and Business Development Manager for Ecolab, Inc. She also worked in product development and quality assurance of citrus and non-citrus beverages with Lykes-Pasco Beverage Co. in Dade City, FL, and Kerry Food Ingredients (formerly Crystals International) in Plant City, FL.
Lori holds a Master of Science degree in Food Science and a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Cell Science, both from the University of Florida. She is a Registered Environment Health Specialist (REHS) and a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI).