Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Names Executive Director

The Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation announced the appointment of Terrell Johnson as Executive Director. Johnson joins the IRAEF having recently served as Director of Special Programs and Global Camps at Kendall College, where he was responsible for leading the department in planning and coordinating adult recreational cooking classes, culinary and wine certificate programs and teen summer camps. 

"It is a privilege to welcome Terrell Johnson as Executive Director of the IRAEF," says president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association Sam Toia. “Terrell’s desire to enhance the educational landscape for our future industry leaders will allow students to be at the forefront of success and opportunity, and we are thrilled to have someone with his passion and commitment at the helm of this organization."

Dedicated to working with high school students to build the hospitality workforce through career exploration, workforce development and connections to post-secondary education, the IRAEF works with teachers, students and industry partners through the ProStart Program. Serving nearly 140,000 students nationally and reaching approximately 3,000 students in Illinois, ProStart creates career pathways to post-secondary education and the workforce providing industry training, camps, scholarships, mentorship and internships to students across the state. From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart's industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and builds practical skills that will last a lifetime. 

Johnson aims to establish the ProStart program in more schools across Illinois and is committed to connecting IRAEF’s students to opportunities that will turn their passions into long-lasting careers.

“A lack of opportunity should never hinder one’s ability to explore his or her passion,” says Johnson. “Food has a universal, unbreakable way of connecting people, and the IRAEF sees the importance behind that message while providing unique opportunities for students to develop those passions and talents. I feel honored to work for an organization who sees the potential in today’s youth and the impact they will have on the culinary industry in the future.” 

Before moving into culinary education, Johnson graduated from Marquette University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology from National Louis University. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology at Walden University. Outside of his commitment to helping culinary students discover their passions, Johnson enjoys spending time with family and reading science fiction.

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