First U.S. Semiquincentennial Commissioners Celebrated

Toast250 Reception Celebrated U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, First-announced Commissioners, and new USA250 Partners

11/21 Event featured Members of Congress, Philly’s top chefs, and special guests

Philadelphia, PA – More than 250 civic and community leaders gathered Monday night, November 21st at 5:30pm at the African American Museum in Philadelphia for the Toast250 reception. The fundraiser event was organized by USA250, the Philly-based nonprofit making plans for America’s 250th anniversary in 2026. The group announced passage of the United States Semiquincentennial Commission Act and the appointment of new Commissioners, honor bipartisan Members of Congress who championed the legislation, as well as highlight new USA250 partners spanning historical, culinary, and civic engagement focus areas.

Did you miss Toast250? Make a donation to USA250 today!

Appointed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, newly announced members of the federal commission were in attendance, including: David L. Cohen (Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation), Andrew Hohns (Founding Board Chair, USA250; and Managing Director, Mariner Investments), and on behalf of Semiquincentennial Commissioner and U.S. Senator Bob Casey, his state director Gwen Camp. Additional appointees include U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Washington DC historian James Swanson, and Nevada private investor Heather Murren.

Philadelphia’s top chefs and restaurants were joined by James Beard Foundation’s Mitchell Davis to launch Food250, highlighting the Foundation’s commitment to develop culinary and civic programming that advances American food leadership for the Semiquincentennial. The African American Museum in Philadelphia and Daughters of the American Revolution joined USA250 to involve communities, locally and across the country, to plan for a national celebration that explores our diverse heritages and shared future.


Philadelphia Magazine: “Here’s the latest…” by Sandy Smith

The Philadelphia Citizen: “Party Prep” by Quinn O’Callaghan

WPVI-TV: “Toasting the… Commission” by 6abc Action News

Toast250 photo book on Facebook


United States Semiquincentennial Commission: Established by Public Law 114-196, the new commission will facilitate national plans to observe and commemorate the United States Semiquincentennial. With its meetings to be convened at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the 33-member body of public and private citizens will solicit ideas for the 250th anniversary in 2026 and develop a report with recommendations to the President and to Congress within two years of its formation. Bipartisan Members of Congress championed the legislation, with co-sponsorship at passage by: U.S. Senators Bob Casey, Pat Toomey, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Ron Wyden, and by U.S. Representatives Patrick Meehan, Robert Brady, Brendan Boyle, and Ryan Costello. More info:

Food250: Food250 is a new USA250 initiative co-chaired by Mitchell Davis (James Beard Foundation); and Ellen Yin and Chef Eli Kulp (High Street Hospitality Group). Like American society, American food culture is open, dynamic and constantly evolving. In just 250 years we have transformed ourselves from a pantry for the Old World into tastemakers for global gastronomy and a leading voice in the conversation about how we will feed and nurture ourselves and our planet in the future. Along this journey we have developed values and traditions that we express as cooks and eaters, farmers and chefs, artisan producers and large food companies go about the daunting daily business of feeding 320 million people. Not everyone has equal access to sufficient food of the best quality. But here, too, America leads, finding innovative ways to support sustainability, increase production, improve health, and eliminate hunger. There is much work to do, but American ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and optimism, in food as in other fields, is unparalleled. As James Beard, largely considered the dean of American cookery, famously said, “Food is our common ground.” It is our intent to use food and all of its many facets to add a delicious and impactful component to the celebration of America’s 250th anniversary. More info about James Beard Foundation:

Participating Chefs and Restaurants: CookNSolo [Rooster Soup Co., Federal Donuts], Drexel University Center for Hospitality and Sport Management, Éclat Chocolate, Garces Group [Volvér Restaurant], High Street Hospitality Group [Fork, High Street on Market,], Laurel, The Keven Parker Company [Ms. Tootsie’s], Skurnik Wines, Starr Restaurant Group [Serpico], Urban Nutrition Initiative [Rebel Ventures], Vedge, Vernick, Vetri Community Partnership, Yards Brewing Company

African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP): Founded in 1976 in celebration of the nation’s Bicentennial,AAMP is the first institution funded and built by a major municipality to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage of African Americans.

Click here to see the Toast250 sponsors and participant list.