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About the IRA Educational Foundation

The Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is a non-profit organization (501 c3) dedicated to building Illinois' hospitality workforce through career exploration and development programs, scholarships and image enhancement.

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

Board of Directors

  • Darwin Claude, Chairman, Edward Don
  • Dan Raskin, 1st Vice Chair, Manny's Delicatessen
  • Sam Toia, 2nd Vice Chair, Illinois Restaurant Association
  • Michael Furlong, Secretary, Sysco, Chicago
  • Jim Caldwell, Treasurer, Compass Group
  • Paul Komelasky, Executive Committee, Sodexo
  • Brad Maher, Executive Committee, HMS Host
  • Bob Nasshan, Executive Committee, Gonnella Baking
  • Dina Altieri, Trustee, Center on Halsted
  • Adam Barrons, Trustee, Ecolab
  • Doug Bradley, Trustee, Savor Chicago at McCormick Place
  • Dan Coudreaut, Trustee, McDonald's Corporation
  • Jeff Forkenbrock, Trustee, US Foods
  • Michael Guinan, Trustee, White Castle Systems, Inc.
  • Shivika Jamison, Trustee, Merisant
  • Bob Kopach, Trustee, RumChata Foundation
  • Stacey Loukas, Trustee, The Cubby Bear Lounge
  • Kristopher Murray, Trustee, Cafe Bon Appetit
  • Matt Parsons, Trustee, Blue Plate Catering
  • Marshall Shafkowitz, Trustee, Washburne Culinary and Hospitality Institute
  • Kathryn Thanas, Trustee, Lou Mitchell's
  • Rochelle Trotter, Trustee, Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation
  • John Williard, Trustee, Gordon Ford Service


  • Ann Leider, Executive Director, Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
  • Kayla Hawkins, ProStart Program Manager, Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

Platinum Sponsors


Gold Sponsors


Silver Sponsors


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Chicago, IL 60603
Toll Free: 800-572-1086
Ph: 312-787-4000
Fax: 312-787-4792


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