Mike Curtin, Jr. joined DC Central Kitchen in 2004 as its Chief Operating Officer and has served as Chief Executive Officer since 2007. He came to the organization after a twenty-year career in the hospitality sector that included owning and operating his own restaurant, The Broad Street Grill, in Falls Church, Virginia. He drew on that industry expertise to expand DC Central Kitchen’s social enterprise portfolio from catering and small foodservice contracts to include an award-winning farm-to-school model and thriving healthy cafes across DC that total $10 million in annual earnings, allowing DC Central Kitchen to match every donation it receives with earned revenue.
Mike has led the organization through the Great Recession, the COVID-19 pandemic, and significant periods of organizational growth and expansion. His focus on ‘good business’ solutions that created meaningful careers for DC Central Kitchen culinary graduates has helped the Kitchen consistently earn half its annual budget through social enterprise activities and sustain more than 200 full-time, living wage jobs here at DC Central Kitchen. Along the way, he has championed industry-leading, innovative practices around internal staff development and accessible career pathways, comprehensive benefits and fair schedules that sustain pathways out of poverty, and undertaken an eight-day public fast to call attention to the often undervalued role of nonprofits in our community. While directing DC Central Kitchen’s front-line response to the challenges of the pandemic, he also ensured a successful transition to an iconic new headquarters. That facility, the Klein Center for Jobs and Justice in Southwest DC, is now the nation’s most ambitious community kitchen and urban food hub, and represents the fulfillment of Mike’s vision for the role nonprofits and social enterprises can and must play in inclusive economic development models that generate lasting community returns.
A DC-area native, Mike attended Gonzaga College High School and Williams College before living and working in Osaka, Japan as a teacher, copywriter, and bartender at his neighborhood pub. Upon returning to the DC region, he re-immersed himself in our local community with significant community service activities. Mike is a chair emeritus of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington and has served in volunteer leadership capacities with The Common Market, the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, Capital Riverfront Business Improvement District, Falls Church Business and Education Partnership, Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, DC Greens, Real Food for Kids, Catalyst Kitchens, and DC Hunger Solutions. As a central contributor to the Social Enterprise World Forum, Mike has spoken about the power of social enterprise to audiences from South Korea to Scotland.
Mike’s outstanding community contributions have been recognized with numerous individual awards, including the Washington Business Journal’s Nonprofit Leader of the Year Award (2022), SOAR’s Father Bob Brown Good Samaritan Award (2022), Williams College’s Bicentennial Medal, its highest alumni honor (2015), RAMW Education Foundation Vision Award (2015), Falls Church Elkins Community Leadership Award (2014), St. Patrick’s Day Parade of Washington, DC’s Gael of the Year (2012), Gonzaga College High School’s Pedro Arrupe SJ Award (2012) and its St. Aloysius Medal (2011), the Gelman, Rosenberg, and Freedman EXCEL Award for Nonprofit Management from the Center for Nonprofit Advancement (2010), the Ignatian Volunteer Corps’ Della Strada Award (2010), and City of Falls Church Business Person of the Year (2001).
Under Mike’s leadership, DC Central Kitchen has received numerous organizational accolades, including Washington Business Journal’s Lease of the Year (2020), Washington City Paper’s Reader’s Choice for DC’s Best Food Nonprofit (2020), Center for Good Food Purchasing’s Good Food Hero Award (2019), two Harkin Institute Wellness Awards (2018, 2019), Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Golden Carrot Award (2015), the DC Chamber of Commerce’s Community Impact Award (2012), the Mayor’s Environmental Excellence Award (2011), Washington Business Journal’s Green Business Award for Innovation (2010). DCCK was also recognized with two White House Champion of Change Awards for its leadership on returning citizens’ issues and food waste prevention during the Obama Administration.