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About the IRA Educational Foundation


Committed to Developing Tomorrow’s Food Service Leaders Today!

The Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is a non-profit organization (501 c3) dedicated to build and promote the health and prosperity of the restaurant industry by investing in our youth and our workforce.

Through initiatives centered around the ProStart® Program, career exploration, job readiness training, and yearly scholarships, the Educational Foundation is constantly striving to make a difference in the Illinois foodservice industry.


Restaurant Employee Relief Fund

As the restaurant industry continues to face the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF) developed the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to provide emergency assistance and direct financial support to restaurant industry workers. 

The IRAEF Restaurant Employee Relief Fund is possible thanks to the generosity of founding donors at Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits, NBC Universal – Telemundo, Constellation Brands, Beam Suntory, Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (ABDI), EMPLOYERS and Josh Cellars.

To learn more about the IRAEF Restaurant Employee Relief Fund CLICK HERE.  


Board of Trustees

  • Dan Raskin, Chairman, Manny's Cafeteria and Delicatessen
  • Jim Caldwell, First Vice Chairman, Foodworks
  • Sam Toia, Second Vice Chairman, Illinois Restaurant Association
  • Doug Bradley, Corporate Secretary, Savor... Chicago
  • Rochelle Trotter, Treasurer, R'Culinaire Consulting
  • Bryce Burton, Sysco
  • Darwin Claude, Edward Don
  • Alicia Feistamel, Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago 
  • Jeff Forkenbrock, US Foods
  • Michael Guinan, White Castle Systems, Inc.
  • Kevin Jennings, Zink Foodservice
  • Christopher Koetke, Complete Culinary
  • Catherine Marshall, Chef's Warehouse 
  • Kristopher Murray, Bon Appetit Management Company 
  • Joel Reynolds, DePaul University 
  • Kathryn Thanas, Lou Mitchell's
  • Doris Timmen, Sodexo
  • Leigh Uhlir, Kendall College
  • John Willard, Gordon Food Service


  • Kristen Hodges, Executive Director, Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

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