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Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO, National Restaurant Association
As president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association for the last decade, Sweeney has championed its efforts to advance policy issues on behalf of the restaurant industry and overseen the development and rollout of products and services promoting the industry.
In addition, Sweeney has led the association’s Educational Foundation, which is focused on developing a strong workforce and fostering the next generation of industry leaders.
The NRAEF has rolled out an apprentice program in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor that focuses on the managerial aspect of the restaurant industry. The program currently has a 94 percent retention rate.
Sweeney, a major advocate for gender diversity, is also working to ensure more of those leaders are women. At the 2018 Women’s Foodservice Forum last March, Sweeney said “If we can move the needle in this industry, we can change, quite literally, the whole employment world.”
Her efforts have been widely recognized, most recently by The Penn State School of Hospitality and Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society, which recently named Sweeney 2019 Hospitality Executive of the Year.
This year the National Restaurant Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a bang.
Among the notable changes planned: Sweeney has said the 2019 NRA Show in Chicago, the anchor event of the association’s centennial celebration, will be less of a traditional trade show and more of a unique experience.