The Beacon Award was created to recognize a woman leader who has truly served as a Beacon for our industry through their leadership, contributions and inspiration. The Beacon is a source of light and celebration.
Beacon Award Recipients
Jilly Stephens, CEO, City Harvest
2018 International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York Honoree
Jilly Stephens has lead City Harvest’s efforts to feed hungry New Yorkers since 2006. She oversees the organization’s work to deliver rescued food to 500 soup kitchens, food pantries and other community food programs in New York City - free of charge and focused on ensuring that high-need communities receive more fresh produce. Under her leadership, City Harvest has put in place strategic programs that address the links between poverty, hunger, and diet-related diseases within geographically defined neighborhoods of New York City while meeting the immediate need for food throughout the five boroughs.
Jilly was instrumental in the creation and expansion of Healthy Neighborhoods, an extension of City Harvest’s anti-hunger work designed to respond to the need for emergency food, improve access to fruits and vegetables for residents in low-income communities and provide nutrition education to inspire affordable, healthy meal choices. In addition, she oversaw the planning and opening of City Harvest’s Food Rescue Facility warehouse and distribution center in Long Island City, NY which has allowed annual food deliveries to increase from nearly 20 million pounds in FY06 to 55 million pounds in FY16. From FY11 to FY16, City Harvest doubled its total revenue from approximately $61.1 million to $124.7 million.
Jilly joined City Harvest as Senior Director of Program Development in 2004, where she was key to the growth of City Harvest’s nutrition education programs and launch of “Fruit Bowl”, which provides healthy snacks to children on an ongoing basis.
Prior to joining City Harvest, Jilly served as the Vice President of Program Operations at ORBIS International, an $80+ million nonprofit organization dedicated to the elimination of avoidable blindness through hands-on surgical training and education.
A native of Great Britain, Jilly and her three children make their home in Brooklyn, NY.
2016 Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo Honoree
Kelli Valade currently serves as President of Chili’s® Grill & Bar. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing all aspects of domestic restaurant operations, marketing, franchising and PeopleWorks for the brand.
Kelli has been with Brinker International since 1996, holding various positions including Director of Human Resources for On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina®, Vice President of Corporate Human Resources and Senior Vice President of PeopleWorks for Chili’s and On The Border and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Chili’s. In 2016, Kelli’s passion for operational excellence and deep understanding of the business led to her promotion to President of Chili’s.
2016 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show Honoree
Edna Morris is the Managing Director at Axum and Industry Expert for Axum’s Limited Service Restaurant investments (LSR). Edna Morris brings over 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry, and served as President of several restaurant companies including Red Lobster and Blue Coral.
2016 International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York Honoree
In the past 30 years, Sara’s illustrious career has included working in restaurants throughout the US and Europe, her mentorship with Julia Child, her positions as Food Editor of Good Morning America and executive chef of Gourmet Magazine, her time on the Food Network, and current role of author of several cookbooks and host of “Sara’s Weeknight Dinners”. While becoming a nationally recognized chef, television host, author and educator, Sara has maintained her commitment to helping women in the industry, and is one of the founders of the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance. We are proud to present this award to her.