Dawn Sweeney serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Restaurant Association, the largest foodservice trade association by membership in the world – supporting over 500,000 restaurant businesses, including quick service, fast casual, managed foodservice, causal and fine dining, along with manufacturers, suppliers and distributors. Since taking the helm in 2007, she 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.
As the first woman CEO in the Association's 90-year history, she has actively supported the adoption of a diversity and inclusion policy and strategy for the NRA Board of Directors. Through a formal affiliation with WFF, NRA has quadrupled the number of women elected to the NRA board during the last three years. As a WFF board member for the past five years, she has played an instrumental role in leading WFF’s Governance Committee to implement a best-practices approach to board service.
Sweeney has been named one of the perennial top association CEOs in the country for the past several years. She serves on the board of the U.S. Travel Association and the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) and is an active member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100, the International Women’s Forum, and the Committee of 200, an international network of women. She also is a charter member of Child Obesity 180, an initiative of public, private, nonprofit and academic leaders working to prevent childhood obesity.
A trusted partner at more than one million customer locations, Ecolab (ECL) is the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services that protect people and vital resources.
Ecolab believes talent is critical to fueling growth and recognizes that a diverse workforce that better matches its’ markets is key to achieving desired business outcomes. To attract, retain and grow talent, Ecolab has been putting in place programs and initiatives since 2006 to support diversity and inclusion. Many of these initiatives, which focus on women, are framed up by HR while others are more of a grassroots effort.
In the past year, Ecolab has not only seen increases in the number of women holding Board of Director seats, but the percentage of women holding executive, management and supervisory roles has grown significantly as well. Most impressive, however, is the total number of women advanced as a percentage of total advancements in 2015.
The global company has created benefits and programs that support work-life balance such as on-site childcare, flexible hours, job sharing, telecommuting and working from home. Additionally, Ecolab supports numerous external leadership programs for women, among those being the WFF Conference in which the company sent 45 women in 2015 and 2016. With a mission to Empower women, Engage employees and Energize Ecolab, an employee resource group called E3 was founded in 2006 and has grown to have more than 2,000 members in the U.S. and abroad.
The Jackie B. Trujillo SOAR Award is presented annually to recognize an outstanding organization that is a proven Standard-Setter for Opportunity, Advancement and Recognition for women within their organization. The SOAR award honors companies with demonstrable corporate initiatives that result in a strong track record of attracting, developing, retaining and promoting women to the highest levels of the organization.
WFF Partner Chick-fil-A, Inc., the Atlanta-based quick-service restaurant, led by their committed team members, hosted and provided tremendous support of WFF’s 2015 Entrepreneur Boot Camp and Leadership Development Workshop in Atlanta last October. Chick-fil-A’s support in these two inaugural WFF events was invaluable!
Fueled by their attendance of the 2015 WFF Annual Leadership Development Conference, Chick-fil-A team members Sonya Leathers and Jessica Jones elevated their leadership and influence within the organization. Rob Dugas, Chief Procurement Officer, shared, “I can’t help but believe that the WFF experience was a catalyst for both Sonya and Jessica to see the world a little differently…and more importantly…to see their opportunity in the world differently.”
The Leader Engagement Award is presented to a company for fostering engagement of its team with WFF, enhancing the value of WFF within their organization and contributing to the goals and overall success of WFF. Success is demonstrated by team members engaged in bringing the value of WFF to the company, enriching the company and advancing the team.
Anne Varano has served on the WFF Board since 2011. Throughout her service, she has helped guide the development of WFF’s performance based management framework, been instrumental in developing policies and processes, and led efforts to revise the organization’s governance structure.
Kat Cole, Immediate Past Chair, WFF, said of Anne, “Her sound and precise judgment is invaluable to WFF leadership and her generous commitment to advancing the mission of our organization is unwavering.”
Anne Varano, Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer for TGI Fridays (Retired). She was responsible for leading all human resource functions including organizational design and development, compensation and benefits, employee relations, recruiting, training and corporate services.
Under her leadership, the HR organization was recognized with a People and Performance Award for Outstanding Recruiting at the Multi Unit Foodservice Operators Conference, the Catalyst Award from the People Report to honor their stellar people practices and the Best Human Resources Organization from the American Business Awards. Varano was also named the Best Human Resources Executive by the same organization and received the Motivator of the Year award at the Elliot Leadership Conference.
Established in 1998, the Outstanding Board Service Award honors a WFF Board Member who has helped make a major impact on advancing WFF's mission.