About STEP Fund

Our mission is to invest in the skills of food service and hospitality workers.

Our Philosophy

Jobs With Dignity

We believe that all hospitality and food service workers are skilled. From dishwasher to lead cook, they deserve recognition for the hard work that they do and rewards for pursuing further education.

The STEP Fund’s contributing employers provide honest wages, good benefits, and invest in their workers’ skill development.

Community Partnerships

STEP accepts referrals into its Job Seekers programs from local refugee support groups, English language schools, work readiness programs, and vocational counselors.

We work side by side with these organizations to ensure our students’ continued success.

Industry Excellence

The Washington, DC area has one of the most exciting culinary scenes in the country.

The STEP Fund is proud to contribute to this local culture through high standards, industry partnerships, and wonderful students.


The STEP Fund’s team has over 50 years combined experience in Education, Hospitality, and the Culinary Arts. Each person brings a unique perspective to the STEP Fund, but together they are committed to the mission and growth of the fund and to the continued success of each of our students.

Morgan Bengel

Recruiter and Social Services Navigator

Amelia Kalant


Tijana Kapetanovic

Program and Operations Manager

Claire Kevill

Lead Hospitality & English Instructor

Viviana Álvarez De La Parra

Chef Instructor

Board of Trustees

The STEP Fund is sponsored by a joint Board of Trustees which includes Union and Employer Trustees that have equal voting power.

Ashleigh Ciulla


Charles Hendricks

Unite Here

Marlene Patrick-Cooper

Unite Here

Margaret Sharp

Unite Here

Harold Taegel


Oliver Zeidler


Industry Partners

STEP Fund is fortunate to partner with industry leaders, including:

The purpose of the STEP Fund’s training and education program is to train individuals (present and prospective employees) in work, professional skills, and safety. The STEP Fund also seek to retrain individuals to improve their present skills and/or develop new skills. The goal of the Fund is to support an adequate and competent supply of skilled workers to the Fund’s contributing employers and to individual employers so that the employees can provide sound, safe, and efficient services to the public. The STEP Fund’s training and education program offers a wide range of free courses and seminars that help eligible individuals gain the expertise needed to move up culinary job ladders and excel in customer service.

As of January 1, 2021, the Food & Beverage Workers Union Local 23 & Employers Benefits Fund merged into the STEP Fund to provide continuing training and education benefits to eligible and qualified individuals. The STEP Fund is a joint labor/management program, and it is funded through contributions negotiated between UNITE-HERE Local 23 (and other locals/unions) and contributing employers, such as Sodexo, Aramark, CompassGroup, and I.L. Creations, in collective bargaining agreements.

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