Tom Bene HeadshotWashington, DC (May 15, 2020) – The National Restaurant Association today announced the appointment of Tom Bené as the Association’s President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and CEO of the Educational Foundation, effective June 1. In this role, Mr. 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 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, Bené will continue to strengthen the Association’s advocacy efforts to ensure restaurants of every size are represented at the local, state, and federal levels.   In this role, Bené will also 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 National Restaurant Association 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.” Rodrigue continued, “And, we remain grateful for Chief Financial and People Officer, Marvin Irby, and his exemplary service as interim CEO during the last five and half months.” 

Mr. Bené brings more than 30 years of leadership experience to the organization.  Most recently, he served as Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Sysco Corporation (NYSE: SYY), the global leader in foodservice distribution. Prior to joining Sysco in 2013, Mr. Bené served as President of PepsiCo Foodservice (NASDAQ: PEP) from 2011 until 2013 and also held a variety of senior leadership roles over his 23-year career with the company. Mr. Bené earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Kansas and currently serves as a member of the University of Kansas’ Business School Advisory Board.

“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,” said Bené. “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.”



About the National Restaurant Association

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.3 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry's largest trade show (National Restraurant Association Show May 16-19, 2020, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart). For more information, visit Restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s mission of service to the public is dedicated to enhancing the industry’s training and education, career development and community engagement efforts. The NRAEF and its programs work to Attract, Empower and Advance today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice workforce.  NRAEF programs include:  ProStart® – a high-school career and technical education program; Restaurant Ready – partnering with community based organizations to provide “opportunity youth” with skills training and job opportunities; Military – helping military servicemen and women transition their skills to restaurant and foodservice careers; Scholarships – financial assistance for students pursuing restaurant, foodservice and hospitality degrees; and, the Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship Project – a partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Association providing a  hospitality apprenticeship program for the industry. For more information on the NRAEF, visit ChooseRestaurants.org.

Contact: Mollie O'Dell