2017 Beacon Award


We are excited to honor Carol Dover, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, as the 2017 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show Beacon Award Honoree.

This award was created to recognize a woman leader who has truly served as a Beacon for our industry through her leadership, contributions, and inspiration. Carol Dover has served as President and CEO of the more than 10,000 member FRLA since July of 1995. Dover is a professional association manager, a former government insider, and a Florida State University Dedman School of Hospitality graduate with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

Carol Dover

Carol B. Dover has served as President/CEO of the more than 10,000 member Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) since July of 1995. Dover is a professional association manager, a lobbyist, a former government insider, and a Florida State University Dedman School of Hospitality graduate with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

After graduating from Florida State University in 1978, Dover accepted the position of Assistant Director of the Beer Industry of Florida. This position familiarized her with the rules, regulations and tax laws associated with the beverage industry – information which has been beneficial in her role with FRLA.

In 1989, Dover moved inside the halls of the Florida Capitol and was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff, Executive Office of the Governor, serving under the Martinez administration. As Bob Martinez’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Dover was responsible for the Governor’s appointments, served as his spokesperson, and represented his administration before the Florida Legislature.

Dover’s other professional accomplishments include positions at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Director of the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, the first woman to serve as Chief of the Bureau of Fire Prevention, State Fire Marshall’s Office, and President/CEO of the Florida Outdoor Advertising Association.

As the FRLA’s President/CEO, Dover works to protect, educate, and promote the diverse interests of Florida’s hospitality industry before the Florida Legislature and lobbying against unfair government regulation. The industry represents a $108.8 billion industry, $11.3 billion in local and state tax revenue, and nearly 1.4 million employees, making it the state’s number one industry.

She also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Restaurant Association, Council of State Restaurant Associations, International Society of Hotel Association Executives, VISIT FLORIDA, Florida State University College of Business Board of Governors, Florida TaxWatch and the Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park.

On opening day of the 2003 Legislative Session, Dover was diagnosed with breast cancer and courageously fought to beat the cancer. Dover, a native of Orlando, is married and has three children and three grandchildren. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities including dressage riding and running.

Previous Recipients


Edna Morris

Edna Morris has over 35 years of leadership experience in the food and beverage industry and 6 years with Cummins Engine Company. Currently, Edna is Managing Director of Axum Capital Partners, a private equity firm focused on early childhood education and restaurants. She leads the restaurant practice for the firm, which recently completed the acquisition of Wild Wing Café. Additionally, Edna is chief executive officer and partner in Range Restaurant Group, with 2 CityRange restaurants in upstate South Carolina. 
Since 2004, Edna has served as a Director of Tractor Supply Company (TSCO), where she chairs the Compensation Committee and is a member of the Governance Committee.  Additionally, Edna served on the Board of Einstein Noah Restaurant Group (BAGL), serving on the Compensation Committee and chairing the Nominating and Governance Committee until the close of a successful sale of the company in November, 2014.  Previously, Edna served on the Boards of Cosi, Inc. and the Culinary Institute of America. Read more.  



Kelli Valade

2016 Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo Honoree

Kelli Valade currently serves as Executive Vice President and 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. 

  Sara Moulton

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.