Business 100 - 2008

Dawn Sweeney/National Restaurant Association

As president and chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association, Dawn Sweeney leads the chief business association for the restaurant industry, which represents nearly a million restaurant and foodservice outlets and approximately 12.8 million employees.  Prior to that, Dawn was president and CEO of AARP Services and was responsible for generating more than $700 million in annual revenue to support AARP’s mission. She recently received a Bravo Women Business Achievement Award from Washington SmartCEO magazine and also featured in Profiles in Diversity Journal as a “Woman Worth Watching in 2006.” Also in 2006, Washington Business Journal named her one of its “Women Who Mean Business.”

Dawn, a second-generation Irish-American, has roots on her father’s side in Cork and Belfast and on her mother’s in Clifden, County Galway. A member of the Save the Children board, Dawn, who has B.S. and M.B.A. degrees, recalls that “my grandfather would tell me about his youth in Ireland, and I remember bursting with pride that I was Irish. To this day, my favorite holiday is St. Patrick’s Day.” A native of Maine, she is married with one child.