People of the Campus Lifestyle Evolution: Meet Danielle Klinkhamer

Published on : 2/7/23
  • Danielle Klinkhamer has worked with Sodexo for 5 years, most recently as Vice President of Operations leading teams at campuses in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Originally from British Columbia, Danielle has since made the Pacific Northwest home in the last 20 years and brings a passion for her community and its values into her campus leadership. We talked with her about the unique geographic region she manages and the exciting things to come.

    Interviewer: Tell us about your background in food service and management

    Danielle Klinkhamer: I’ve been working in hospitality ever since I was 14 years old and began my professional career as a chef. I apprenticed at fine dining restaurants in Arizona and California then was first introduced to management in more high-volume restaurants. Planning and people skills are essential in a large kitchen! I then began my management career in corporate dining, working with Seattle-based clients like REI, Brooks, and Adobe for 9 years before coming to Sodexo, where I've worked in both airline lounges and campus. Throughout my career, it’s been important to me to stay physically rooted in my home in the Pacific Northwest.  

    Interviewer: What are some of your responsibilities in your role as Vice President of Operations?

    Danielle Klinkhamer: My primary responsibility is to manage the 420+ years of relationships we have at 15 campuses here in the Pacific Northwest. Each campus has a unique history, relationship with its community, and strategic path, and I help leverage Sodexo’s resources and innovations to give our partners solutions that help them thrive.

    Interviewer: What’s one of your favorite memories at work?

    Danielle Klinkhamer: I was working on a time-sensitive project with one of our campus partners, but he was away at a president’s retreat at a remote camp. I was headed to the same coastal area to hike for the weekend and offered to swing by so we could meet in person during his break. We sat at a picnic table by the ocean, talked, never plugged in a computer, and wrapped up the project in time. It was one of our most productive meetings ever. Sometimes you have to meet folks where they are at – and fresh air makes everyone think more clearly!

    Interviewer: The Pacific Northwest is such a cherished region of the country – what do you love about it?

    Danielle Klinkhamer: Our region is lush, beautiful, and vibrant and there’s no denying our deep connection to the outdoors. I love the dynamic weather and seasons and how this evolution impacts the activities we do, the gear we wear, and what we eat. I feel connected to nature here and also love the constant change we experience.

    Interviewer: What do you like to do outside of work?

    Danielle Klinkhamer: I love to play and work out outside. My current passion is mountain biking and I’m also learning to boat. I also love to forage wild foods and am known for being able to cook a meal almost anywhere. One of my favorite dinners was made on an island cliffside in the San Juans.

    Interviewer: What’s next for you and your team?

    Danielle Klinkhamer: We’ve been working hard to build partnerships with local farmers and food producers and bring as many Pacific Northwest ingredients into our kitchens as possible. (Some of my favorite workdays are those visiting Skagit farms with our chefs.) We're taking this one step further by creating a more systemic regional food initiative with local purchasing commitments that support the Pacific Northwest food economies, similar to Sodexo’s  Vermont First or Maine Course. Our regional purchasing initiative will be the first on the west coast and split between the unique geographies west and east of the Cascade mountains.