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The LEE Initiative is an acronym for Let’s Empower Employment.

Main Auction Services - The Lee Inititative

We started the LEE Initiative in Louisville, Kentucky in 2015 after we saw a need for more diversity, more training, and more equality in our own restaurants. We also wanted to redefine what it means to give back to our local community. We are in the business of hospitality. We are in the business of serving others. Based on our experience, our research and most of all, our instincts, we’re developing programs to begin to address the complex social issues that arise in today’s restaurant industry.



  • Wherever we identify a need for more diversity and more equality in the restaurant industry, we will find creative and forward thinking solutions.
  • We will create small but impactful programs that make a real difference in the lives of the next generation of restaurant industry professionals.
  • We will help our community and inspire others to get involved, get active and give back.


We proudly offer two programs under the LEE Initiative umbrella. The Women Chefs Program, an eight-month leadership development experience for women in culinary and the Youth Hospitality Program (formerly Smoke & Soul Initiative,) a paid nine-month immersive hospitality internship for young adults.

Please browse through this site and start a conversation with us. Our programs exist because of the tremendous support of people in the community who share our vision of giving back for a better culinary world through more diversity and inclusion.



A heartfelt thank you to our generous sponsors for supporting the LEE Initiative.
Without you and all our donors, we could not be of service to each class of young culinary leaders.