National Restaurant Association president and CEO Dawn Sweeney was honored today with the Association TRENDS 2017 Association Executive of the Year. The honor recognizes a chief staff executive of a national association who has shown exemplary leadership, and was given to Sweeney as she marks her tenth year as head of the National Restaurant Association.
Since taking the helm at the end of 2007, Sweeney has led the association in addressing a wide-range of policy issues, while offering services and products that promote the industry and help individual operators and large multi-unit companies succeed. Under her leadership, the Association’s revenue has doubled from $50M in 2007 to $102M in 2016, and corporate membership has grown by 47 percent since 2007. She has made it a point to strengthen the unified voice of the restaurant industry through a new partnership agreement with state restaurant associations to assure the partnership continues to grow in future years.
“Dawn’s energy and enthusiasm on behalf of restaurant industry is contagious. She has led by example through her tireless advocacy throughout her tenure. She is able to connect with everyone she comes in contact with and exemplifies joy for our industry. I have learned so much from Dawn and know that sentiment is shared throughout our organization,” says Jeff Davis, chair of the NRA Board.
Sweeney has overseen hard-fought legislative and regulatory industry victories on menu labeling, health care, swipe fees, overtime, and restaurant taxes. She’s done this while taking the fight to advance the best interests of restaurants, their employees, and their guests to the courts through a new focus on legal advocacy, including the January 2017 launch of the Restaurant Law Center.
Sweeney also revamped the National Restaurant Association’s governance structure to ensure that the NRA and NRA Educational Foundation Boards more closely represent the gender, racial and ethnic diversity of the restaurant industry. Her aim to promote and elevate diversity in the restaurant industry, including finding new avenues and partnerships to grow the ranks of female and multicultural restaurant and foodservice leaders, speaks volumes to the organizations willingness to be inclusive of everyone.
“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the hardworking men and women of the National Restaurant Association. Together, we work every day to develop a strong workforce and build the next generation of leaders in restaurants across the country,” says Sweeney. “This award recognizes the tireless efforts of the entire NRA team. Being able to work alongside such committed individuals who share the devotion I have to the restaurant family makes our success possible.”
Sweeney was honored at the 38th TRENDS 2017 Salute to Association Excellence luncheon on Thursday, February 23rd at the Capital Hilton in Washington, where they honored the brightest stars of the association community and their commitment to excellence. Honorees include: Association Executive of the Year, Association Partner of the year, Young & Aspiring Association Executives, Leading Association Lobbyists and All Media Contest Winners.