After twelve years leading one of the industry’s preeminent trade associations, National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney announced last week that she will be stepping down at the end of 2019.
Until then, the association noted in a press release, Sweeney will continue to lead the Association and Foundation, gain board approval for the 2020-2024 strategic plan, and assist board leadership in the search for a new CEO.
“Serving and leading the restaurant industry during this historic timeframe, when foodservice has grown to an $863 billion business employing over 15 million professionals, has been the most fulfilling experience of my career,” said Dawn Sweeney. “We have accomplished much together, including important public policy victories at all levels of government, a broadened membership base representative of the industry at large, and a revitalized organization that has expanded and bolstered its advocacy and business capabilities. I have had the privilege of serving for 12 years — the longest tenure of any position in my career. It is vital to me that we work to ensure the Association and Foundation have a smooth and seamless transition to plan for the future.”
Sweeney first joined the association in 2007. Under her leadership, membership has grown by nearly 50 percent; revenues for the organization have more than doubled. The organization has nearly tripled its growth in ServSafe® food safety training and certification, expanding into adjacent industry sectors and certifying more than eight million industry professionals.
Sweeney joined the National Restaurant Association after having served as President of AARP Services, the taxable subsidiary of AARP. Prior to that, she worked for almost a decade at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and began her career at the International Dairy Foods Association. Sweeney is active in several organizations including the Women’s Foodservice Forum, and she is on the board of Save the Children, a global humanitarian organization, and Bryce Harlow Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting ethics and integrity in lobbying.
“Dawn has been an extraordinary leader for the restaurant and foodservice industry during a time of both challenge and opportunity,” said Joe Essa, 2019 Association Chair and President & CEO of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide. “She has unified our industry, expanded our impact, heightened our effectiveness, and navigated a number of significant public policy challenges. The organization is well-positioned to continue to fulfill its mission to advance and protect the industry and has a strong foundation on which her successor will build.”
Board leadership, the association noted in its press release, has selected Spencer Stuart to assist with the CEO search.
Keep reading Deli Market News for more on the National Restaurant Association’s search.