Skip navigation

Rob Gifford named president of NRA Educational Foundation

Dawn Sweeney will remain on as CEO of the Foundation until her retirement

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced this morning that Rob Gifford will be promoted to president effective July 1st.

“Rob’s passion and dedication for cultivating the next generation of restaurant leaders is unparalleled,” said Dawn Sweeney, president & CEO of the National Restaurant Association, in a news release. “This promotion reflects Rob’s commitment to excellence and his contributions to the ongoing success of the industry.”

Sweeney was previously the president and CEO of both the NRAEF and the National Restaurant Association, and in May, she announced plans to retire at the end of the year. She will remain CEO of the foundation until her retirement.

The NRAEF, the philanthropic arm of the National Restaurant Association, is dedicated to training, education, career development and community engagement efforts through various programs including ProStart, Restaurant Ready, and their apprenticeship program.

During his time at the NRAEF, Gifford oversaw ProStart, a high school career and technical education program, which grew by more than 50% to its current total of 150,000 students annually. Under his leadership, Restaurant Ready, a training program aimed at training youths out of school and ex-offenders to enter the culinary workforce, and the Hospitality Sector Registered Apprentice program, aimed at certifying existing industry employees as restaurant or lodging managers, were created.

“One in three young people get their first job in restaurants,” said Gifford when speaking to Nation’s Restaurant News last year about Restaurant Ready, “at the same time that there was a societal problem with young people who are no longer in the educational system. They may need counseling, they may need help with transportation, they may need legal or other assistance, and community-based organizations are well equipped to provide that.”

Contact Holly Petre at [email protected]

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.