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Exclusive Interview with the National Restaurant Association's Dawn Sweeney

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As president and chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association, Dawn Sweeney has been instrumental in focusing the mission of the Association through a unique, multi-year strategic plan, highlighting key areas of opportunity within the restaurant industry.

The National Restaurant Association’s members include quick service, fast casual, managed foodservice, casual and fine dining – along with manufacturers, suppliers and distributors. The American restaurant industry is composed of one million restaurant and foodservice outlets and 14 million employees. 

Sweeney has realigned the Association’s priorities and structure to strengthen its core operations, including consolidating its Foundation around a mission to develop a strong workforce and build the next generation of industry leaders. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s major goal is to educate students on the restaurant business through the ProStart program – running in high schools nationwide – and to provide educational scholarships.  Under her leadership, the Association’s annual tradeshow – the largest restaurant and hospitality industry tradeshow in the U.S. – has seen growth both in revenue and impact.

Before joining the National Restaurant Association, Sweeney was president and CEO of AARP Services, the wholly owned taxable subsidiary of AARP. She grew annual revenues from $175 million to $785 million during her tenure – serving 11 million AARP members annually. A native of Maine, she is a graduate of Colby College and earned her MBA at George Washington University. Sweeney lives in northern Virginia with her husband and teenage son.

 

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