The National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) announced the election of officers to its Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, respectively. The officers began their one-year terms on January 1, and recently led their first board meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. In addition, the National Restaurant Association has named several industry leaders to join its board.

 “The National Restaurant Association Board of Directors and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Board of Trustees are instrumental to the continuing success of the industry and our members,” says Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the NRA and the NRAEF. “This year, our boards are fortunate to be led by industry veterans Ken Conrad and Mike Gibbons. Their leadership and expertise will provide valuable guidance as our industry navigates complex challenges in the year ahead.”

The NRA expects restaurants to add 1.3 million new positions in the next decade, pushing industry employment to 14.8 million by 2024. To support this growth, the NRA board consists of roughly 100 voting directors, representing every facet of the industry. The 2014 officers are:

  • Chair: Marshall L. “Ken” Conrad is chairman of Libby Hill Seafood Restaurants, a nine-location company based in Greensboro, North Carolina. His parents founded the company in 1953 with a single restaurant. Ken began as a cook in one of his parents’ restaurants and became company president in 1983. A former chairman of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, Ken served on its board for more than 20 years. He has been a member of the NRA Board of Directors since 2004.
  • Vice Chair: Jack Crawford is president & CEO of Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative (IOC) based in Freeport, Maine, where he is responsible for the overall leadership of Ground Round Restaurants, a chain of 30 independently owned restaurants in 12 states spread across the Midwest and Northeast areas of the U.S. He has over 30 years of industry experience in senior leadership positions of operational and franchising disciplines, and was instrumental in leading a franchisee buyout of the Ground Round brand and franchise rights in 2004. Jack is a former chairman of the Maine Restaurant Association and has been a member of the NRA Board of Directors since 2003.
  • Treasurer: Joseph J. Kadow is executive vice president, chief legal officer and a member of the Executive Leadership Team of Bloomin’ Brands, Inc., owner of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, and Roy’s. Joe joined Bloomin’ Brands in 1994 as vice president and general counsel. Previously he served as a partner in the Orlando office of the national law firm of BakerHostetler.

The NRAEF recently moved to NRA headquarters in Washington, D.C. As the philanthropic arm of the NRA, the foundation works with the NRA to attract, develop and retain a career-oriented professional workforce for the restaurant industry. The NRAEF’s 2014 officers are:

  • Chair: Michael Gibbons is president and CEO of Mainstreet Ventures Inc., an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company founded in 1981. Since 1981, Mainstreet Ventures has set the standard for fine dining in six markets in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida, and most recently Maryland. Before forming his own company, Gibbons spent six years with C. A. Muer Corp., starting as an hourly employee and rising to regional manager. He has long been an active leader for the industry on the state and national level.  Gibbons is a former president of the Michigan Restaurant Association and served as chairman of the National Restaurant Association from 2009-2010.
  • Vice Chair: Michael A. Hickey is executive vice president and president of Global Institutional for Ecolab, where over his 29-year tenure, he has held a number of key executive positions. Hickey is an active leader in the restaurant and foodservice industry.  He currently serves on the board of the National Restaurant Association and the Ronald McDonald House Charities Upper Northwest. Previously, he served as chair of the board of the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association. He is also a member of several industry organizations, including the Multicultural Hospitality and Foodservice Alliance, the Society of Food Service Managers and the Women’s Foodservice Forum.
  • Treasurer: Lorna C. Donatone is chief operating officer and president of Sodexo Education, where she leads Sodexo’s business at nearly 500 public school districts and at more than 850 college and university campuses. Donatone is also Sodexo’s Worldwide Education Champion and an industry leader dedicated to community involvement. She has been a National Restaurant Association board member since 2005 and became a trustee of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation in 2011. Donatone is Past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Women’s Foodservice Forum and was elected as a member of the Board of Trustees for The Culinary Institute of America in 2008.

 In addition, the NRA has added new members to its board. The newly elected directors include the following individuals:

  • Susan Adzick, vice president of Sales & Marketing, McLane Foodservice Inc. in Carrollton, Texas.
  • Scott Carlson, owner and managing partner of Court Avenue Restaurant & Brewing Company and Owner of Americana Restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Atour Eyvazian, franchise owner/managing partner of JIB Management, Inc. / Jack in the Box in Houston, Texas.
  • Jeff Lobdell, president of Restaurant Partners Inc. in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Scott Redler, COO and co-founder of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers in Wichita, Kansas.
  • Tim Ryan, president of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York
  • Bahjat Shariff, senior vice president of Operations/Operating Partner at Howley Bread Group. Panera Bread in Cumberland, Rhode Island.


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