Food For Thought Conference Offering Full Scholarships to Encourage Diverse Participation

Innovation Event Also Announces Addition of Food Network Host, Southwest Airlines Marketing Chief to List of Presenters

GREENVILLE, SC--(Marketwire - March 24, 2010) -  Entering its third year, Food For Thought -- a catalytic event celebrating the intersection of food, creative thinking, entrepreneurialism and social responsibility -- is embarking on what is believed to be a first among innovation conferences: providing full scholarships for up to 20 percent of the participants at this year's event, set for April 27-29 in Greenville, S.C.

Event organizers also announced two additions to this year's lineup of presenters: renowned chef and Food Network host Alexandra Guarnaschelli, and Southwest Airlines Senior Vice President of Marketing and Revenue Management Dave Ridley.

"Food For Thought has always been about sharing great ideas," said Food For Thought founder Joe Erwin, president of Greenville ad agency Erwin-Penland. "Having a diverse group of participants enhances the creative process, but we recognized not everyone can afford to pay the conference registration or related travel costs. So we're offering a select number of Thought Leader scholarships to allow students, non-profit professionals and others to participate as equals with CEOs, artists and entrepreneurs."

To be considered, interested individuals should complete the application available at by Friday, April 2. Conference organizers will consider responses to questions about applicants' backgrounds, aspirations, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit in awarding the scholarships. Recipients will be notified by April 5 so they can make necessary travel arrangements.

The Thought Leader Scholar program is funded by a handful of generous donations, along with proceeds from the not-for-profit event. Recipients will participate fully in all Food For Thought activities but not be identified in any special way, allowing them to mix freely with their fellow conference attendees.

"We're thrilled these scholarships will allow people with a broad range of perspectives to contribute to the dialog that is the essence of Food For Thought," added Erwin. "And we're excited to have two notable individuals in Alexandra Guarnaschelli and Dave Ridley join the most impressive roster of presenters in the history of our event."

Chef Guarnaschelli has appeared on Food Network's "Iron Chef America" as both a challenger and a judge, as a recurring judge on the popular primetime series "Chopped," and on her own shows, "The Cooking Loft" and "Alex's Day Off." She began her career under the tutelage of venerable chef and restaurateur Larry Forgione, perfected her craft alongside the likes of Guy Savoy, Daniel Boulud and Joachim Splichal, and since 2003 has been executive chef at New York's acclaimed Butter Restaurant.

Dave Ridley joined Southwest in 1988, holding a variety of senior leadership positions and serving on the company's Executive Planning Committee, the CEO-led group responsible for strategy and policy. In his current job, Ridley is responsible for building and maintaining the Southwest brand while maximizing revenues, including directing the airline's pricing, inventory (seat) management, advertising and promotion, loyalty program and its popular website,

Food For Thought brings together some of the country's leading entrepreneurs, innovators, chefs and thought leaders. Held annually in Greenville, the three-day conference is a fully experiential event designed to inspire dialogue and debate among an intimate group of attendees. Attendees analyze and discuss how creative vision, perceptions and actions are changing important industries and institutions.

This year's lineup features a robust array of entrepreneurs, food aficionados and musical artists. Scheduled participants include award-winning documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy; Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J.; Sheryl Connelly, corporate futurist and global trends manager at Ford Motor Co.; Wiley Dufresne, chef and owner of acclaimed New York restaurant wd~50; GeekSquad founder Robert Stephens; and singer/ songwriter Rosanne Cash.

In addition to presenting sponsor Erwin-Penland, Food for Thought 2010 sponsors include Sandy Alexander, Money Mailer Direct Marketing, Upstate SC Alliance, The Ice Box, Michelin North America, Greenville Hospital System/University Medical Center, BMW Manufacturing Co. and The Riley Institute at Furman University. Information regarding registration for Food For Thought is now available online at

Contact Information:

Barry Finkelstein
(864) 672-7475