President & CEO, National Restaurant Association and Educational Foundation

Dawn Sweeney is President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association, the Washington, D.C.-based trade association for the nation’s $863 billion restaurant and foodservice industry.

Prior to assuming this role in October of 2007, Dawn was President of AARP Services, the taxable business subsidiary of AARP, where she was responsible for revenue growth and new product development for the 50+ market (2002-2007), serving AARP’s 40 million members. While there, she launched AARP Financial, an SEC regulated consortium of mutual funds.

From 1999-2002, Dawn was Group Executive for Membership for AARP, focused on growing and diversifying AARP’s membership, relaunching AARP’s brand for greater relevance and resonance, and building the organization’s first knowledge management capability.

She served as Vice President of Market Development for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (1993-1999), a trade association serving America’s consumer-owned electric utilities and providing service to more than 30 million consumers across rural and suburban America.

Dawn was Vice President of Marketing at the International Dairy Foods Association (1990-1993), where she launched the “milk mustache” advertising campaign and served as Director of Public Affairs (1986-1990), Manager of Education (1983-1986), and Educational Coordinator (1981-1983).

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Government from Colby College and an MBA in Marketing from The George Washington University.  She also participated in the Harvard Business School’s inaugural “Women on Boards: Succeeding as a Corporate Director” program in 2016, and has lectured at the Harvard Business School, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law.

Dawn serves on the boards of Save the Children, the Bryce Harlow Foundation, and the U.S. Travel Association.  She also has served as a member of the Board and Executive Committee of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and was recently named an “ASAE Fellow,” a designation reserved for the top one percent of association leaders in the nation. 

She is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100, The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., the International Women’s Forum, and C200, a membership organization of the world’s most innovative corporate entrepreneurs. She has also been recognized as one of the “100 Most Powerful Women in Washington” by Washingtonian magazine each of the past four years.

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