The National Restaurant Association Friday, May 15 announced the appointment of Tom Bené as president and CEO of the association and CEO of the NRA Educational Foundation, effective June 1. He succeeds Dawn Sweeney, who retired at the end of 2019. Marvin Irby, CFO, has served as the interim CEO since the beginning of the year.
In this role, Bené will be responsible for guiding the Association’s strategic path towards its vision for a thriving restaurant and foodservice community, providing America with nourishment, opportunity, and joy, while working to enhance the quality of life for all.
Bené will reinforce the association’s position as the unifying voice of the restaurant and foodservice industry and the recognized leader for employee training and certification programs. Working in concert with state restaurant associations, he will continue to strengthen the association’s advocacy efforts to ensure restaurants of every size are represented at the local, state, and federal levels. Additionally, he will be responsible for promoting the industry to multiple stakeholders, including members, prospective members, industry leaders and allies, government representatives, media, and consumers.
Inside the association and foundation, he is charged with driving an entrepreneurial environment fostering the ongoing development of programs, products, and services that increase member value, while leveraging technology to enhance efficiencies and deliver financial success.
“Tom brings to the association and foundation decades of experience from across the restaurant and foodservice industry,” said Melvin Rodrigue, chair of the NRA Board. “Our industry’s operators, suppliers, and employees have been hardest hit by the coronavirus. Tom’s business acumen coupled with his remarkable record of success will be invaluable for our members and our industry as we begin the process of reopening and rebuilding.”
Bené brings more than 30 years of leadership experience to the organization. Most recently, he served as chairman, president, and CEO of Sysco Corp., the global leader in foodservice distribution. Prior to joining Sysco in 2013, he was president of PepsiCo Foodservice from 2011 until 2013 and also held a variety of senior leadership roles during his 23-year career with the company.
“The National Restaurant Association and its Educational Foundation are critical components of the industry’s ongoing success and we are at a crucial moment in our industry’s history,” Bené said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to bring together the collective passion and influence of the full industry including multi-unit, independent, and franchise operators while continuing to build the next generation of foodservice leaders and employees.”