We are committed to providing access to tools, resources, and networks to help ensure that there are more women-owned businesses, more financial investment in women-owned businesses, and more women in leadership across the industry. Check out our equity-related stories here. To stay informed as we continue to update and refine our women’s leadership programming, sign up for our industry advocacy newsletter.


Women’s Leadership Programs

The James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Leadership Programs are designed to support all women–including women-identifying and non-binary professionals–in the hospitality industry at all stages of their careers through scholarships, mentorships, training, specialized entrepreneurial education, and other offerings.
We are committed to providing the tools, resources, and networks to the community to ensure that there are more women-owned businesses; more financial investment in women-owned businesses; and more women in leadership across the industry. For more work and stories click here.

Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership 
The Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) program is an advanced educational, training, and networking program for business owners in all areas of the hospitality industry.  The program launched in partnership with Babson College in 2017.
In 2020, JBF welcomed 25 new fellows into the community as part of a 7-week virtual WEL program, bringing our total WEL program alumni network to 84 women. We provide year-round programming for this growing cohort of influential women.
The 2021 ten-week program, now created in conjunction with Cornell University, includes sessions on negotiating, design thinking, business and financial models, funding your businesses, and more. In addition to live virtual sessions led by Cornell faculty from across the university, James Beard staff, and other subject matter expert facilitators, WEL students will be able to select an elective from Cornell’s External Education program. 

If you are a WEL alum or interested in joining a network of women in the industry, please join our public Facebook Group. Check out our blog for stories from our WEL alum and our directory of WEL alum businesses, organized by state.

Open for Good Resource and Networking Portal

OpenforGood.com is a resource library and a networking and mentorship portal for all hospitality professionals. The JBF Mentorship program presented by KitchenAid was created with an emphasis on providing access to women, non-binary, trans individuals, and BIPOC across the industry to provide a space for mentors to connect with those looking to further their careers. The mentorship program makes it easier to access information, resources, and networks to ensure that the next generation of leaders is building back a restaurant industry that is more equitable, sustainable, and resilient than ever before. 

For more information on the mentorship portal, made possible with support from KitchenAid, head here. If you are interested in becoming a mentor click here.

Educational Scholarships

In 2021, we awarded 80% of our $314,0000 in scholarships to women. 

The 2021 scholarship application period closed on April 1. Recipients of the 2021 JBF Scholarship Program will be announced in June. Learn about the scholarships and educational grants we offer here. To sign up for updates on this program, please register here.


The James Beard Foundation is committed to advancing women in the food and beverage industry. In 2020 we:

  • Awarded grants through our Industry Relief Fund, over half of which were distributed to women-owned businesses to help them survive the pandemic
  • Supported women-led events across the country like the RE:Her Initiative in Los Angeles and Women’s Food Fest in Washington, D.C. If you have a women-led event or initiative you’d like JBF to share, contact us at impact@jamesbeard.org.
  • Highlighted women-owned and operated restaurants on JBF-owned channels, including social media, email, and blog. Please add your business(es) to our list women-owned businesses if you’d like to be included.
  • Released a digital cookbook, A Place at the Table, with our presenting sponsor Audi, that features 20 WEL alumni and includes a directory for each WEL fellows’ business. [Download A Place at the Table here!]

In 2021, we’re expanding our focus and reach to provide resources to women at all stages of their careers. We’ll do this by:

  • Conducting a Benchmark Food & Beverage Industry Survey with Dr. Lilly Jan, Cornell University
  • Building comprehensive programs for a full life cycle of support by refining the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program and re-imagining the Owning It program 
  • Launching a national year-round campaign to drive business towards women-led restaurants
  • Providing an ongoing spotlight on women in the industry through editorial and digital initiatives
  • Highlighting women chefs across the country through our Taste America program
  • Sharing impactful stories about recipients of the JBF Food and Beverage Investment Fund Black and Indigenous Americans and scholarship recipients

Questions or ideas? Email impact@jamesbeard.org


Program Sponsors


Official James Beard Foundation Partners