The National Restaurant Association today named Sean Kennedy its new executive vice president of public affairs.

Kennedy officially begins his tenure in June. He will lead the Association’s public affairs team, its advocacy initiatives and lobbying efforts. He also will spearhead the Association’s litigation strategy through the Restaurant Law Center.

“We are thrilled to have Sean join the Association and lead our industry’s government relations efforts,” said President and CEO Dawn Sweeney. “Sean is a proven executive who understands the nuances of the policy-making process. His experience advocating for a large and complex industry will be a valuable asset to our members as he engages on myriad issues affecting our industry and America’s workforce.”

A government relations leader in both the private and public sector with more than 20 years of experience, Kennedy served as senior vice president of global government affairs for Airlines for America, the trade association representing the country’s leading passenger and cargo airlines. While there, he achieved a series of bipartisan legislative victories amid a divided Congress.

Kennedy said he is excited to begin working with the Association’s public affairs team and create advocacy wins on behalf of the restaurant industry.

“I am excited to join an industry that is such a jobs-creating engine for America and a vital part of our country’s way of life,” said Kennedy. “Dawn has assembled a best-in-class team, and I am ready to work with them to advance the restaurant industry at such a critical time.”

Before his stint at A4A, he held several key government positions, including as special assistant to the President in the White House’s Office of Legislative Affairs, chief of staff to former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and legislative director to former Rep. Richard Gephardt. Early on in his private-sector career, Kennedy served as AT&T’s assistant vice president of federal relations.

He earned his undergraduate degree in political science at Emory University in Atlanta, and J.D. from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.