Executive Insights | May 2012 | By Mary Avant

Special Preview: Dine America

September 12-14, 2012, in Atlanta

Restaurant executives will gather in Atlanta in September for Dine America.
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Dine America is a networking conference that all restaurant and foodservice leaders should attend.

It is not a trade show or other run-of-the-mill conference. Dine America has garnered a reputation as a boutique gathering of top minds in the restaurant industry who attend not only for the educational sessions, which offer both industry-specific and outside-the-box ideas, but also for the outstanding networking opportunities that take place on and off the conference floor.

This year’s conference will be held September 12–14 at the Loews Hotel in Atlanta. Attendance is complimentary for qualified restaurant professionals. Visit DineAmerica.us to request your attendance pass.

Meet the Speaker!

QSR gets the inside scoop on the life of Dine America keynoter and political bigwig Mark Halperin.

Mark Halperin

Most people hope to achieve many of their career goals by the time they reach 50. Mark Halperin, one of the most respected political reporters of his generation, has done that and then some, having already been a political director at a major news station, a senior political analyst for an even bigger publication, and a critically acclaimed author, all before crossing the half-century mark.

But, like everyone else, Halperin had to start somewhere, somewhere that wasn’t nearly as glamorous as the life he now leads as the editor at large and senior political analyst for TIME magazine.

The Maryland native graduated from Harvard University—an aspect of his early career that’s admittedly still glamorous—where he followed in the footsteps of his father, foreign policy specialist Morton Halperin, and immersed himself in what President Ronald Reagan once called the world’s second-oldest profession: politics.

When his years at Harvard came to an end in 1987, Halperin left Cambridge, Massachusetts, and set his sights on the Big Apple, where, two months out of college, he landed a job as a desk assistant at the ABC News station on 66th Street and Central Park West.

Three years into his stint at ABC News, Halperin got his big break—although it didn’t seem too big at that point—when he was assigned to follow a man he remembers as “this little-known Senator from Arkansas: Bill Clinton.” The rest, as they say, is history.

After his time trailing eventual President Clinton during the ’91–’92 campaign (which he quickly points to as one of the highlights of his career), as well as Clinton’s first two years in office, Halperin was considered a rising star in political journalism.

Halperin spent several years climbing the ladder at ABC News, and was named political director at the news outlet in 1997. Ten years later, Halperin took up his current role as political analyst and editor at large of TIME magazine, and even went on to create Time.com’s “The Page,” an online source for anything and everything political junkies need and want to know (he continues to run it to this day). A gifted writer, Halperin has also co-authored two best-selling books, the most recent of which is the popular Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, (an HBO version of the novel starring Julianne Moore as Palin garnered much acclaim and attention earlier this year).

“I’ve been lucky enough to cover some of the most interesting people in the country,” Halperin says humbly.

This laundry list of experience means few people are as well informed as Halperin about the upcoming 2012 election, which makes him the perfect candidate to discuss how November’s outcome will affect the foodservice industry in both the short and long term.

Halperin, who’s been lauded as the “insider’s insider” by The New York Times, points to the sluggish economy as the continuing hot-button issue for the country. He also believes the economy is the biggest challenge facing the foodservice industry right now.

The politics pro says the candidate who wins the 2012 election—along with the party (or parties) left standing in both Congress and the White House after the citizens have had their say in November—has the potential to majorly impact brands and professionals in the foodservice sector. The Democratic party is known for its fondness of passing rules and regulations that sometimes step on the toes of big businesses—the food and beverage industry included—while Republicans typically shy away from these political moves.

“There are a lot of federal regulations that affect how restaurants get things done and serve their consumers in the right way,” Halperin says.

For example, the politicians in the White House and on Capitol Hill can influence everything from factory inspection standards to laws enforcing healthier fast food options, resulting in a potentially drastic effect on how brands run their businesses and how customers access and consume their products.

“The foodservice industry is at the top of the line when it comes to these debates,” Halperin says.

Learn more about how the 2012 election could impact your brand on September 13, when Halperin delivers a keynote address at Dine America.

Learn more about how the 2012 election could impact your brand on September 13, when Halperin delivers a keynote address at Dine America.

Next: Dine America Agenda

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