EICC’s Diane Stanley honored by Iowa Restaurant Association

Ten years ago, if you had told Diane Stanley where she’d be today she would have laughed and said “yeah right!”

Never did she dream she’d be running successful college programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, let alone being recognized for her work. Yet here she is, providing leadership, vision and passion to Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) as the Culinary and Hospitality Program Facilitator.

It’s a job made all the more rewarding with her recent placement on the Iowa Restaurant Association’s “40 Women to Watch” in Hospitality List.

“I was totally surprised!” Stanley said of the recognition. “It was like ‘wow,’ when I see others I feel are so well deserved and I’m included in that group, it’s very humbling.”

The annual list showcases women in Iowa’s hospitality industry who are blazing new trails, leading by example, and impressing their peers, customers, managers, or in Stanley’s case, students. More than 100 nominations were submitted from across the state, including women from nearly every segment and function in the industry.

“Although women have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, they are still building meaningful careers in every segment of the restaurant industry,” said Jessica Dunker, President and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. “In fact, 58 percent of foodservice supervisors and 49 percent of foodservice managers are women, far above the averages in nearly every other industry.”

 “It’s been so neat to hear the other honorees’ stories,” Stanley said. “One recipient started bartending and is now the manager of a winery. Food service and hospitality is a tough industry, and right now, it’s really tough. These examples are a reminder that the potential for growth and opportunity in this industry can be there for everyone.”

Stanley got her start by working banquets at a hotel. One opportunity led to another until she had experience in nearly every facet of the business, from front desk manager to sales to banquet director to employee trainer. Though she didn’t know it at the time, each stop along her journey served as the perfect preparation for her work with students.

“This wasn’t the direction I was going, but it picked me,” Stanley said. “In my role at EICC, I am able to do what I love and share it with other people and encourage them to find their dream.”

For Stanley the best part about being “a woman to watch” isn’t the recognition itself, but instead the real life inspiration she hopes it will bring to her students.

“It’s showing them that anything is possible.”

View the full list of recipients

EICC’s Culinary Arts program is one of the college’s largest and most popular.

Offered at Scott and Muscatine Community College, the Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs provide hands-on training in state-of-the-art labs under the guidance of instructors with direct experience in the field.