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First job: Sweeney part of farm team

June 5, 2017
By William Ehart


Ask Dawn Sweeney about her first job, and she gives you her early resume.

Six-year-old farm hand, grocery store cashier, hot-dog factory worker and—two days after graduating from Colby College in Maine—she started working as educational coordinator for the predecessor to the International Dairy Foods Association.

Two constants for the CEO of the $95 million-revenue National Restaurant Association: food and very hard work.

“At 6 years old I was picking strawberries and peas on my grandfather’s farm—we had about 40 acres of farmland in Maine.

“We had a roadside stand (next to the house), so we planted vegetables, picked vegetables and then sold them in the 90-day summer season we had in Maine.

“My grandfather didn’t pay me, but he would take me to a little market down the street and buy me an Orange Crush if I did a good job. That was my big thing,” Sweeney said.