Twenty Female Chefs and Business Owners Attended Inaugural Five-Day Intensive Training Initiative

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Babson College hosted the James Beard Foundation’s (JBF) inaugural class of 20 female chefs and business owners at the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) program on September 10-15, 2017. Developed with and hosted at Babson College, the new initiative aims to help female chefs and owners grow their businesses by cultivating women’s leadership in the culinary industry.

“In just one week, these inspirational female chefs and restaurant owners identified new opportunities for growth, pitched plans to expand their businesses, and learned invaluable skills and industry strategies necessary for success,” says Candida Brush, F.W. Olin Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and Vice Provost of Global Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson. “Through the WEL program, the women acquired increased competencies, connections, and confidence to achieve their big dreams.”

The first class of 20 WEL graduates from across the country are:

"Our Foundation has made promoting diversity and women in leadership in the food and restaurant business a priority. Although women make up 50 percent of culinary school graduates, only 19 percent of executive chefs are female, and even fewer own their restaurants," said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, in announcing the program last month. "The successful launch of our first class of JBF Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership fellows was a satisfying and transformative opportunity for the 20 women who participated. They left feeling empowered and inspired to grow their businesses successfully and pass on some of their learning to others who can benefit.” 

The WEL curriculum addressed advanced business and finance concerns related to entrepreneurship and expansion, as well as provide gender-specific training and leadership development. An emphasis on work/life balance and other cultural issues were part of the program. In addition to the Babson curriculum, JBF’s Women in Entrepreneurial Leadership Program will administer a group of mentors who agree to provide expertise and career development support to the participants on an ongoing basis once they leave the program. In-person meetings and webinars will be held throughout the year in order to grow the network of women leaders across the country.

“These amazing women left the week with the skills that will allow them not only to scale their food business, but also to enhance their employees’ lives,” says Victoria Sassine, Faculty Co-Director and Lecturer in Finance and Entrepreneurship at Babson. “Increasing revenue and cash flow enables socio-economic benefits for their employees: higher pay, healthcare benefits, and opportunities for staff advancements.  Educating 20 entrepreneurs will have a three-fold positive economic impact across the country, from Wasilla, AK to Orlando, FL.”

About the James Beard Foundation

Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation celebrates, nurtures, and honors chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, the late James Beard was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts, instilling in them the value of wholesome, healthful, and delicious food. Today JBF continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships for culinary students, publications, chef advocacy training, and thought-leader convening. The Foundation also maintains the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a “performance space” for visiting chefs. For more information, please visit Get food news, recipes, and more at the James Beard Foundation’s blog, or subscribe to the free digital newsletter Beard Bites. Follow @beardfoundation on FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest, and Snapchat. Watch the James Beard House Kitchen Cam, James Beard Awards, and more on the Foundation’s Livestreamchannel. Find more JBF-related video on the Foundation’s YouTube channels.

About Babson Executive Education

Babson Executive Education (BEE), offers a dynamic learning laboratory where faculty and staff work together with corporations, business professionals, educational institutions, governments and NGOs, small business owners and entrepreneurs from around the world to address real-world objectives and challenges. Featuring Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® (ET&A™), Babson’s one-of-a-kind methodology for turning ideas into opportunities, our targeted programs are designed to empower individuals and organizations to be entrepreneurial leaders that create economic and social value globally.


About Babson College

Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds®. The top-ranked college for entrepreneurship education, Babson is a dynamic living and learning laboratory where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society. We prepare the entrepreneurial leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, motivate teams in a common purpose to make a difference in the world, and have an impact on organizations of all sizes and types. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value.

By Shannon Sweeny,, (781) 239-4621 | 09/22/2017 02:00