Vice President of Awards
Dawn Padmore serves as the Vice President of Awards at the James Beard Foundation, where she works closely with volunteer committees, staff, and the Board of Trustees to shape the future of the James Beard Awards. Since 2021, she has led the Foundation’s Awards mission to recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive. She oversees a team that worked to relaunch the 2022 James Beard Media Awards, Leadership Awards and Restaurant & Chef Awards – the first since groundbreaking changes were made to policies and procedures under her leadership. She has been lauded for helping to drive systemic change in the food and beverage industry.
Prior to her current role, Dawn has helped lead some of the industry’s most iconic and high-profile culinary festivals and events.
Her career began as an integral team member of M. Young Communications, alongside founder Melanie Young, to produce the annual James Beard Awards. As an Account Director, she managed clients such as Rums of Puerto Rico, Pour Wine Shop, and other prominent brands.
Following her decade-long career at M. Young Communications, she joined Karlitz & Company, where she managed and led teams of several large-scale culinary productions including the New York Chocolate Show, Godiva Chocolatier-sponsored activations, Relais & Chateaux’s “Diner des Grand Chefs”, Enjoy Arts & Tastes event in St. Petersburg, FL and a two-week pop-up restaurant collaboration at the London Summer Olympics, where she supported Chef Masaharu Morimoto and his team. She was also part of the inaugural team that launched the New York City Wine and Food Festival. In her role, she oversaw the strategic planning, event production, chef procurement, and corporate sponsorship activations.
With a passion for cultural inclusiveness, Dawn leveraged her long-time event experience as part of the executive team that conceptualized, launched, and produced Harlem EatUp!, an award-winning annual festival of food and culture, co-created by Marcus Samuelsson Group and Karlitz & Company. The festival, for which she was lead producer, showcased the talents of Harlem-based and nationally acclaimed chefs and personalities. In 2020, the festival pivoted to a one-hour televised fundraising special on ABC7 New York, for which she was a producer.
In addition to her longstanding and successful career in the culinary space, Dawn is an accomplished, classically trained soprano, who has performed internationally, and collaborates with musicians from around the world.