Prairie Meadows Food and Beverage Director Clay Willey  Named Iowa Cornerstone Humanitarian of the Year

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Prairie Meadows Food and Beverage Director Clay Willey Named Iowa Cornerstone Humanitarian of the Year


Clay Willey, Food and Beverage Director for Prairie Meadows, has been named the Iowa Restaurant Association’s 2012 Cornerstone Humanitarian of the Year. Willey accepted the award on September 23 at a ceremony at the Meadows Event Center at Prairie Meadows.

“More than 90 percent of hospitality establishments give back to their communities through philanthropic programs,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. “This award honors the professional in our industry who exemplifies a heart of philanthropy through his or her volunteering, mentoring and leadership. Clay does all three.”

The honor was presented to Willey by the Chairmen of both the Iowa Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Mike Rastrelli of Clinton, Iowa and Phil Hickey of Atlanta, Georgia.  Willey was also recognized with other state winners by the National Restaurant Association.

Mentor to Many

Willey’s commitment to mentoring both within the industry and through other programs was at the heart of Willey’s selection as Cornerstone Humanitarian. From dishwasher to restaurant owner he has hired, trained, and mentored hundreds of people in the hospitality business. A grandfather himself, Willey takes great pleasure in hiring the children and grandchildren of his former (and sometimes current) employees.

Today Clay is involved in a “little bit of everything” as he leads more than 300 employees, speaking 30+ languages, in what he dubs a “popcorn to prime rib” multimillion dollar food and beverage operation at Prairie Meadows.

Industry Leadership
Clay has served multiple terms with the Iowa Restaurant Association’s Educational Foundation Board and was recently appointed to the Iowa Culinary Institute’s Advisory Board. He takes every opportunity to speak at schools, host tours of students at Prairie Meadows, and employ and mentor students from across the Des Moines area.

Iowa Restaurant Association

The Iowa Restaurant Association is an advocacy organization supporting Iowa’s hospitality industry with educational and promotional programs across the state.
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Media Contact: Jessica Dunker,

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