August 31, 2021

National Restaurant Association Announces Leadership Transition

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Restaurant Association today announced that Tom Bené will be stepping down as President and CEO of the Association and CEO of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. A 30-year veteran of the food and beverage industry, Bené is returning to the beverage distribution sector.

Bené joined the Association and Foundation during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and has worked with restaurant owners, manufacturers, and distributors to bolster the industry’s recovery efforts. “We appreciate Tom’s leadership and commitment to the industry during this difficult time,” said Brian Casey, National Restaurant Association Board Chair and owner of the Oak Hill Tavern and the Company Picnic Company. “Tom’s unique industry experience was invaluable in helping the Association and Foundation navigate a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic.”

During Bené’s tenure, the Association successfully garnered critical protections and support for America’s restaurants and acquired majority ownership of Winsight Holdings, the leading events, expositions, and media provider for the industry.

“I am incredibly proud of the work this team has done and all that we have accomplished together during this incredible time,” said Bené. “Whether it's the significant impact we've made to support the industry through our advocacy efforts; the new governance model that we put in place to drive deeper engagement and more effectiveness; or the restructuring of the organization to meet the changing needs of the industry, our state associations, and our members, it has been a truly collaborative effort. I know the Association and Foundation – and these teams – are well-positioned for continued success.”

Marvin F. Irby, CFO and Chief People Officer, will serve as Interim CEO. Irby has more than 30 years of leadership experience, including executive positions at Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, and Disney. Irby joined the organization in 2010 and has played an integral role in advancing the strategic plans for both the Association and Foundation. 

A task force is being formed to oversee the search for a new President & CEO.

About the National Restaurant Association

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises more than 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.5 million employees. Together with 52 State Associations, we are a network of professional organizations dedicated to serving every restaurant through advocacy, education, and food safety. We sponsor the industry's largest trade show (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart). For more information, visit and find @WeRRestaurants on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.