Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), the trade association representing restaurants and the foodservice industry in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, announced today the appointment of its new president & CEO, Shawn Townsend, effective mid-January 2023. Established in 1920, RAMW advocates for and promotes the vitality of the capital region’s hospitality industry and, under Townsend’s new leadership, will continue its legacy of legislative and regulatory representation, education and workforce development, marketing, small business support, and more.
Townsend is a veteran communicator and leader with a career dedicated to building trusted expertise in public-private partnerships. No stranger to the restaurant world, he grew up in the industry in his father’s restaurant. As he built his career, Townsend spent more than a decade in the District of Columbia government, eventually appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser as the inaugural Director of the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture. In that role, he advised the administration on the issues affecting much of the city’s hospitality industry, serving as a conduit to the business community while identifying engagement opportunities. He was integral in developing the District’s strategic hospitality engagement plan both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and brings to his role at RAMW a wealth of knowledge and contemporary expertise.
Previously a Principal at Dewey Square, he supported the firm’s State and Local Affairs and Multicultural Strategies practices, engaging with clients to provide strategic guidance and awareness campaigns to address public policy issues. The insights, best practices, and relationships he brings to RAMW will be integral to the organization’s continued success.
RAMW Board of Directors Chair, and Partner of Long Shot Hospitality, Gavin Coleman said, “Our industry is at a pivotal moment and we are thrilled to welcome Shawn in this role to lead both the industry and organization into the next chapter. Shawn brings a bounty of energy, experience, and knowledge and is already in the unique position to have earned the trust of many operators across the city and region. Now as we continue the recovery path of rebuilding business, workforce, and economic sustainability for operators of all sizes, especially in the wake of Initiative 82, we are confident that Shawn is the right leader for the job.”
RAMW currently counts more than 1,400 businesses in its membership, including restaurants, food and hospitality vendors, and allied business who work within the industry. The regional organization is recognized as a key voice at the table working with elected officials, agencies, and the larger business community in DC, Northern Virginia, and Suburban Maryland.
Townsend said of the new role, “Throughout the pandemic, I worked closely with RAMW to deliver much needed relief for the industry. Our restaurants have been critical to the dynamic growth of Washington D.C. and the surrounding region. I am excited for the opportunity to build on those efforts at such an important moment with a talented team. I am looking forward to getting to work.”
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