Dawn Sweeney

This entry is part 59 of 69 in the series

Dawn Sweeney, NRA

Dawn Sweeney

National Restaurant Assn.
President, CEO

Years with company:  Five years




Education/degree & professional/volunteer organizations: 

  • B.A., Colby College (Government)
  • M.B.A., George Washington University (Marketing)

Board Member:  Save the Children, U.S. Travel Association, Women’s Foodservice Forum,

Charter Member:  ChildObesity 180

Active Member:  U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100, International Women’s Forum, C200

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
I grew up in Maine on a farm that my family had worked for over 150 years. We had a small roadside produce stand and I worked in the fields and at the stand in the summers beginning at age four, where, over the years, I learned a lot about customer service, managing money and offering high quality goods.  All of that happened because of my parents and my grandfather.  Their tireless work ethic and fair-mindedness have been touchstones throughout my life – both professionally and personally.  They always insisted on setting goals that made me stretch. That has stayed with me throughout my career.  To this day, I am not happy if at least some of the goals I have seem impossible!

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment in your career?
There have been many “defining moments” of my career – and, I hope, some still to come!  For the most part, my best memories and most grateful moments are times when I have been part of a team that has achieved great success.  The exhilaration that comes from working together, on an initiative or campaign, in which you deeply believe, to a successful outcome, is the most inspiring part of any job I have ever had.

Advice for young executives:
Please don’t ever get complacent. There is so much to learn at every phase in our careers and from everyone…just this week I have learned all kinds of things:  from the Chair of our Board, from my husband, from my teenaged son, and from my colleagues and even business adversaries. Try to stay open — listen to what may seem as off-the-wall ideas. Share your own. And don’t shy away from mistakes – some of our greatest achievements come, not coincidently, on the heels of some of our greatest mistakes.

Volunteering on behalf of children’s causes, reading, hiking and travel.