NRA Announces Winners of Faces of Diversity Awards

NRA Announces Winners of Faces of Diversity Awards

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NRA Announces Winners of Faces of Diversity Awards

Ben and Virginia Ali, of Ben’s Chili Bowl with President Obama when he visited their restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) announced the winners of its third annual Faces of Diversity awards.

Winners in two award categories—the American Dream Award and the Inspiration Award—are recognized for inspirational success stories and exceptional efforts to embrace diversity. The awards celebrate diversity and inclusion in the restaurant-and-foodservice industry and among the industry’s 13 million employees.

‘The Faces of Diversity awards are a great way to acknowledge the many incredible success stories of our industry, and the commitment of restaurant companies to embrace diversity and inclusion. We are proud to celebrate these accomplishments,’ said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the Association.

The winners of the American Dream award are:

Ben and Virginia Ali, Ben’s Chili Bowl, Washington, D.C.: Originally from Trinidad, Ben Ali came to the United States when he was 18 years old. He tried several jobs before finding his calling in the restaurant industry while working at Ann’s Hot Dogs. Ali met Virginia Rollins who had been working as a bank teller and together they opened Ben’s Chili Bowl one week before they were married. Read more.

Amy Igloi Matsuno, Amy’s on the Bay, Port Orchard, Washington: At just 3 years old, Amy Matsuno’s biological parents died, leaving Matsuno in a Korean orphanage where she contracted a high fever that caused hearing loss. With her father’s guidance, Matsuno knew she wanted to be her own boss one day, which led her to the restaurant industry. At just 25, Matsuno opened her own restaurant. Matsuno and her husband Grant now own and operate Amy’s on the Bay in Portland, Washington, a steak and seafood restaurant with Asian influences. Read more.

Siraj Virani, Dunkin’ Donuts, Chicago: In 1971, Siraj Virani lived in Bengal, now known as Bangladesh, when the Indo-Pakistani War broke out. Virani embarked on a treacherous journey through war-torn areas to safety in Karachi, Pakistan. Virani won a scholarship to the United States, where he studied to be an accountant. When he was laid off, Virani began to consider franchising opportunities. Today, Virian is a father of three and owns 13 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants and supplies baked goods to 18 other stores in the Chicago area. Read more.

The Inspiration Award winner is:

McDonald’s Corporation: McDonald’s has consistently been recognized as a ‘Best Place to Work’ for African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and people with disabilities. The McDonald’s system supports five employee business networks for African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women and gay/lesbian/allies, offers a diversity education curriculum as well as career development coursework for women and minorities. Read more.

The Faces of Diversity awards program, created by the NRA in partnership with PepsiCo Foodservice, celebrates the restaurant industry’s successes and inspires restaurateurs to embrace inclusion and expand their diversity efforts.

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