The Penn State School of Hospitality Management and Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society (PSHRS) have named National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney their 2019 Hospitality Executive of the Year.

The award will recognize Sweeney’s leadership and achievements in the foodservice industry. Known for her strategic leadership of the Association, which this year celebrates its 100th anniversary, she will receive the honor at a gala reception in April.

Sweeney joined the Association in 2007. During her tenure as CEO, she has led its efforts to advance a wide range of policy issues on behalf of the restaurant industry as well as overseeing the development and rollout of numerous products and services that promote the industry and help restaurant and hospitality businesses succeed. In addition to her work with the Association, Sweeney also has led its Educational Foundation in its focus on developing a strong workforce and building the next generation of industry leaders.

In addition to her work with the Association, Sweeney also has led its Educational Foundation in its focus on developing a strong workforce and building the next generation of industry leaders. As part of that goal, she is spearheading the Foundation’s efforts to develop Career and Technical Education (CTE) training tools and programs that help the industry’s next generation of employees advance their careers.

Penn State officially announced Sweeney’s award during CTE Month, a public awareness campaign that takes place each February to celebrate the value, achievements and accomplishments of CTE programs across the country.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Penn State School of Hospitality Management and PSHRS,” Sweeney said. “Preparing for a career in the hospitality industry requires students to focus on service to others and to their communities. This award provides an opportunity to be part of the school’s great tradition of service and leadership, and I am grateful to my colleagues in the industry who made this possible.”

School director Donna Quadri-Felitti, PhD., said Sweeney, who served as a visiting professor for the Walter J. Conti program in 2015, has given its students a sense of pride about the career opportunities that await them after graduation. “Dawn has led the National Restaurant Association to its centennial as an unparalleled force of our industry’s positive impact on communities, families, and individuals,” she said.

PSHRS President Ryan Spear added, “Recognizing Dawn Sweeney and the important work of the National Restaurant Association in its centennial year reflects our tradition of excellence and the mission of the Society to celebrate achievement among our alumni and valued industry partners.”

Sweeney will receive the award April 3, at the Nittany Lion Inn University Park in State College, Pa.