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James Beard Foundationís Diane Harris Brown to be Honored by City Tech

Photo credit: Andy Ryan

City Tech alumna Diane Harris Brown ’82, director of educational and community programming for the James Beard Foundation (JBF), will be awarded the distinguished alumna and outstanding industry professional awards by the College’s hospitality management department.

The award will be presented to Brown at the department’s reception for the June 2009 graduating class, to be held on May 11. In her position at JBF, she administers hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to institutions offering culinary studies, including City Tech. She also helps put together special-interest conferences and manages “Beard on Books,” JBF’s monthly literary series.

“Because of Diane's vision, we offer The Anna Nurse Scholarship and The Patrick Clark Scholarship,” explains her former City Tech classmate Julia Jordan, who is director of the College’s Faculty Commons. “Some of our best and brightest students receive these scholarships at critical moments in their lives when they would otherwise have had to take a semester off to work full-time.”

Brown’s career path can also serve as inspiration for today’s City Tech students, especially those who are coming back to college in order to make a career change. After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in fine arts, she had a successful career in the New York art world in the 1970s

In 1980 she enrolled in City Tech’s Hospitality Management program, which enabled her to make the transition to the culinary arts incrementally, because the program is geared towards students who work part-time.

She and some City Tech classmates began a community service initiative to produce a holiday meal to feed the hungry on Christmas, a program that City Tech hospitality management students continue to volunteer for to this day in collaboration Christian Help in Park Slope (CHIPS).

Brown, along with Jordan and City Tech professor Lynda Dias, serves on the board of directors of Spoons Across America -- a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating children, teachers, and families about the benefits of healthy eating.

After graduating from City Tech, Brown opened a catering business in East Hampton. In 1988, friends of hers told her about a new non-profit food center being set up in James Beard’s townhouse. Intrigued, she signed up as a kitchen volunteer and a year later started working in administration full-time, moving into her current position in 2005.

“For me, managing the Foundation’s scholarship program is the ultimate honor,” she says. “I love the diversity of the Beard Foundation’s educational programming. I became a part of the

Foundation when the culinary arts were just emerging as something for Americans to appreciate. Today, the learning opportunities we offer are myriad and very accessible.”  “I love having a role in passing on James Beard’s legacy,” she says. “He was instrumental in fostering a generation of American chefs, and I think that the Foundation is doing the same for aspiring chefs today.”


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