Susan Ungaro is president of the James Beard Foundation, the leading culinary organization in the U.S. Since taking on the role in 2006, Ungaro has overseen significant growth in global awareness of the Foundation, expanded the number of educational and thought-leadership initiatives, and increased the organization’s culinary scholarship program, which this year will award $750,000 in financial aid for students – the largest amount in JBF history. Of the many initiatives Susan has begun, she is most proud of creating their Women in Culinary Leadership program, which has grown three-fold since it launched in 2013.
Her mother and father were childhood sweethearts, though emigrated separately from Castlegregory, Co. Kerry in 1947 and ’49 respectively, with her father following her mother to New York in a grand romantic gesture of affection. As the oldest of six children, she also says that her parents were her cheerleaders. “Because I was first in the family to finish high school and go to college, I felt a deep responsibility to be a role model for my younger brothers and sister,” she says.
Prior to assuming her role at the James Beard Foundation, Susan worked at Family Circle magazine for 27 years, eventually becoming editor in chief. She holds a B.A. and M.A. from William Patterson University, and resides in New Jersey with her husband, with whom she has three children. She is a member of the Bergen Irish Association.