Dawn Meader McCausland has worked in community development for more than 15 years. After earning a BA in Ethnic Studies from Mills College, she began her career working at the interface of the private market and government benefits helping landlords navigate participation in subsidized housing programs in order to expand housing access. She went on to work in policy development and management analysis for several Public Housing Authorities in the Bay Area, CA.

Dawn earned a Masters of City Planning from the University of California Berkeley with a focus on community economic development. Her research explored the role of production and distribution industries, including food processing, in maintaining diversified economies and living wage jobs. She also studied food systems planning and became a LEED Green Building Accredited Professional. Dawn began consulting in 2009 with the aim of cross-pollinating solutions across the disciplines of economic development, housing, and sustainability.


Sparked by a crazy idea she couldn’t get out of her head, Dawn began studies in chocolate in 2013 with the goal of opening her own business. Without a shared kitchen or food incubator in her new community in Central Washington state, Dawn experienced firsthand how a lack of support infrastructure can prevent small food businesses from thriving. In response, she helped galvanize an effort to develop a food business incubator and bootstrapped a food entrepreneur network to expand education opportunities for local food businesses. The challenges of trying to create a kitchen delayed her chocolate business but inspired her to dive deeper into understanding effective food business incubation. She earned a Business Incubation Management Certification from the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) and began expanding her practice to serve incubation programs.

Read more about Dawn’s perspective on the role of shared kitchens and kitchen incubators in food systems in her interview with the American Planning Association Food Interest Group (APA-FIG).

Dawn continues chocolate training and recently completed a Chocolatier Program at Valrhona. She contributes her knowledge to support the craft chocolate industry and sustainable supply chain efforts. Dawn lives near Seattle and relishes its local foods and vibrant chocolate scene.

Connect with Dawn or learn more about her background on LinkedIn.

(Photos courtesy of the Northwest Chocolate Festival Unconference)