National Restaurant Association appoints Tom Bené to president and chief executive post

Former Sysco chief also named CEO of NRAEF

Tom Bené becomes The National Restaurant Association’s new president and chief executive on June 1. The Association named him its new leader and the CEO of the National Restaurant Educational Foundation (NRAEF). Within the organization, Bené will drive an entrepreneurial workplace, ensuring the success of programs aimed at increasing member value, according to an announcement. In addition, he’ll use technology to drive efficiencies and deliver on financial metrics.

“Our industry’s operators, suppliers, and employees have been hardest hit by the coronavirus,” said Melvin Rodrigue, chair of the National Restaurant Association Board in a statement. “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.”


A major role of the National Restaurant Association chief executive is to work with state associations to advocate for restaurants and to ensure their representation from local to federal levels. Bené will accept this challenge and be the face of the Association. As such, he will promote the organization to multiple stakeholders, becoming its preeminent brand ambassador.

Rodrigue added, “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.”

Bené holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Kansas. He also serves as a member of the University of Kansas Business School Advisory Board. Over the past 23 years, Bené served in many leadership positions at PepsiCo leading to his ascent to the role of president from 2011 to 2013. Since then, he has served as president and chief executive at Sysco, the number one U.S. broadline foodservice distributor by revenue.


In total, Bené comes to the Association with 30 years of leadership experience. He 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.”

Dawn Sweeney, the Association’s former president and chief executive, retired at the end of 2019, marking 12 years of service.

Photo credit: National Restaurant Association (preview image)

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