Our inaugural class of JBF WEL fellows working on growing their businesses at Babson College, September 2017.

Applications for WEL are now open. Apply here through September 30th.

A maximum of 20 applicants will be selected. A committee consisting of industry leaders, WEL alumnae, and James Beard Foundation staff will review all applications. Successful applicants will be notified by November 3 and should be ready to start on November 15. We recommend blocking the course dates on your calendar when you submit your application to ensure that you can attend if selected.

Get updates on the program, application deadlines, and related events by signing up for our Industry Newsletter or joining our Facebook group.


The James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) program is an advanced educational, training, and networking program for business owners in all areas of the hospitality industry. Launched with Babson College in 2017, it is one of the Foundation's Women's Leadership Programs. Each annual cohort is comprised of 20 participants. WEL alumnae form a strong and broad community, with regular opportunities to connect with each other and the Foundation.

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. 

Cornell University, one of the original members the Ivy League, is recognized as one of the world’s leading academic institutions. Through our partnership, the WEL program taps into the broad network of Cornell University faculty across the schools including the Hotel School, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell Tech, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Industrial Labor Relations, Engineering and Computer Science.

Targeted to women chefs/owners of one or more restaurants or food businesses looking to expand and grow, the curriculum for this 5th cohort will address advanced business and finance concepts while also providing gender-specific training and leadership development. 


To qualify for WEL, you must be:

  • 21 years of age or older
  • A woman or nonbinary individual
  • A current owner or co-owner of one or two food, beverage, or related businesses in the United States, with a strong desire to learn, network, and grow your business
  • Interested in an intensive entrepreneurial management program that also provides training and leadership development
  • Committed to attending each session
  • Committed to filling out follow-up surveys immediately upon completion of the program, then 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years post-program, as well as yearly check-ins 

Then WEL is right for you! Apply here.

For those interested in learning more about the WEL program and application, as well as other James Beard Foundation Women Leadership Programs, sign up for our email list. You’ll receive updates about application deadlines, events, and other program news.

The program was initiated by JBF supporter, Jodie W. McLean, CEO of EDENS, one of the nation’s leading private retail real estate companies.


For more information about the Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, please email Megan Storms at mstorms@jamesbeard.org.

The James Beard Foundation's Women's Leadership Program is Supported by


Along with Sustaining Partner