Management Moves: Oden, Garder, NRA/NRAEF Officers, Camacho

Leslee Oden, National Turkey Federation

National Turkey Federation (NTF) president Joel Brandenberger has announced the promotion of Leslee Oden to legislative affairs manager.

“Leslee has shown dedication, hard-work and commitment to NTF’s legislative mission,” said Brandenberger. “We are confident that she will continue to strengthen the legislative team as they strive to influence and implement public policy that will promote and protect the turkey industry.”

As legislative affairs manager, Oden will be responsible for development and implementation of programs to ensure maximum grassroots involvement from NTF members in the federation’s lobbying activities. 

In her new role, she will work to ensure the federation’s membership is extremely active and engaged in the legislative process. She also will continue to be responsible for the day-to-day management of TURPAC, NTF’s political action committee.

Oden reports to NTF vice president of government affairs Damon Wells.

Oden joined NTF in 2009 as a legislative intern and then served as the agriculture fellow for former Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama. During that time, she advised the congressman on policy issues relating to agriculture, energy and the environment.

She returned to NTF in January of 2010 and was appointed legislative affairs coordinator in April of that year. She holds a Masters in poultry science from Texas A&M University.

Liz Garder, National Restaurant Association

The National Restaurant Association has announced that Liz Garner has joined the policy and government affairs team as director of commerce and entrepreneurship.

In this position, she will help advance the association’s tax and profitability priorities, working with member companies, policymakers, and other stakeholders as an advocate for the restaurant industry, the nation’s second-largest private sector employer with nearly 13 million workers nationwide.

“Liz’s strong credentials within the retail community are of tremendous value to the association’s policy agenda, particularly our ongoing efforts to enhance the recently enacted debit card swipe fee reforms and increase the transparency of credit card fees for merchants and consumers,” said Scott DeFife, executive vice president of policy and government affairs for the National Restaurant Association.

“In addition, she will play a key role in our advocacy for new payment systems that would improve data security measures for consumers and protections for restaurants.”

“Liz’s legislative experience in a broad area of subjects will serve the restaurant industry well as we continue to work for permanent extension of both 15-year depreciation for restaurants and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, as well as the upcoming debate on tax reform,” said David Koenig, the association’s vice president of tax and profitability.

Garner previously served as director of government relations for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) representing the supermarket industry. In that role, she helped coordinated legislative efforts of the Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC), a group of more than 20 national retail trade associations, including the National Restaurant Association, representing millions of card-accepting merchants. She will continue in this position in her new role at the association. 

Garner holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Arts in government from Johns Hopkins University.

New officers, NRA and NRAEF

The National Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) have elected new officers to their board of Directors and Board of Trustees. The officers took office on January 1, 2012, and led their first board meeting late last month in Phoenix, Arizona.

“We are excited to continue to advance our strategic plan for both the National Restaurant Association and NRAEF under Roz’s and Xavier’s leadership,” said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and NRAEF.

“The collective experience of all our officers will help grow membership, educate future industry leaders, and strengthen the restaurant and foodservice industry as a whole.”

The National Restaurant Association’s 2012 officers are:

Chair: Rosalyn “Roz” Mallet is president and CEO of PhaseNext Hospitality — a franchise operating company focused on quick casual brands in non-traditional venues. Mallet is a seasoned leader with extensive and diverse experience in enterprise strategy, turnarounds, transition planning, systems implementation, human capital development and franchise operations. She has a comprehensive background in several restaurant segments, including casual dining (Applebee's and TGI Friday's), quick casual (la Madeleine Bistro/Café) and quick service (Caribou). She is also a member of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation board of trustees.

Vice chair: Phil Hickey currently serves as chairman of the board of O’Charley’s, Inc., a multi-concept public restaurant company based in Nashville, Tennessee. Phil previously served as chairman of the board/chief executive officer of RARE Hospitality International, Inc., an Atlanta-based restaurant company whose concepts included LongHorn Steakhouse and the award-winning Capital Grille, acquired by Darden Restaurants, Inc., in 2007. As a veteran of more than 35 years in the industry, Phil Hickey has also been a single restaurant owner-operator and co-founded a restaurant company and taken it public.

Treasurer: Marshall L. “Ken” Conrad is chairman of Libby Hill Seafood Restaurants, a nine-location company based in Greensboro, North Carolina. His parents began the company in 1953 with a single restaurant. Conrad 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, Conrad served on its board for more than 20 years. He has been a member of the National Restaurant Association board of directors since 2004.

The NRAEF’s 2012 officers are:

Chair: Xavier Teixido is president of Harry’s Hospitality Group in Wilmington, Delaware. A seasoned operator and owner, Teixido is experienced in leading both front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house operations. Teixido has served as the chairman of the National Restaurant Association (2002-2003) and is former president of the Delaware Restaurant Association. In 1999, he was named the Delaware Restaurateur of the Year and was recipient of Delaware's first Cornerstone Award in 2003. Teixido also serves at the pleasure of the Governor of Delaware on the state's Tourism Advisory Board, and is a member of the University of Delaware HRIM Advisory Board.

Vice chair: Denise Marie Fugo, FMP, is chairman & CEO of Sammy's in Cleveland, Ohio, specializing in banquet, concession and restaurant management for cultural, academic and corporate venues throughout northeast Ohio. Under her leadership, Sammy's has received the prestigious Distinguished Restaurants of North America Award and the Wine Spectator's Award for Excellence. Most recently, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation named her to its distinguished College of Diplomats in 2010. Fugo is a past chairman of the board of the National Restaurant Association.

Treasurer: Michael Gibbons is president and CEO of Mainstreet Ventures Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since 1981, Mainstreet Ventures has set the standard for fine dining in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida, and most recently Maryland. The company's portfolio includes Real Seafood Company, Gratzi, Blue Pointe Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar, Palio Ristorante, La Dolce Vita, Tidewater Grill, Ciao, The Chop House, Zia's Italian, Carson's American Bistro and its latest concept, EO Burgers. Gibbons was 2009-21010 chairman of the National Restaurant Association and is a former president of the Michigan Restaurant Association.

In addition, both organizations have added new members to their respective boards.

The newly elected directors to the National Restaurant Association’s board are:

  • Louis Basile, CEO/president of Wildflower Bread Company in Scottsdale, Arizona.
  • John Campbell, general manager of La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club in La Jolla, California.
  • Bill Caskey, VP of strategic business development of ConAgra Foods in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • George Ebinger, president/CEO of GTE Enterprises LLC in Barnegat, New Jersey.
  • Michael Hickey, president, Institutional, Ecolab Inc. in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Chris O’Herlihy, executive vice president, ITW Food Equipment Group in Glenview, Illinois.
  • Bret Stewart, president of Centertwist Inc., in Woodinville, Washington.
  • Jay L. Stieber, executive vice president, CFA & general counsel of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises in Chicago, Illinois.

The National Restaurant Association’s board of directors consists of industry leasers who serve on a voluntary basis to guide the association toward its vision of leading America’s restaurants into a new era of prosperity, prominence and participation, enhancing the quality of life for all it serves. The new directors will serve on the association’s board January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2014.

The newly elected trustees of the NRAEF’s board are:

· Dr. Jerald Chesser, interim dean, College of Extended University, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in Pomona, California.

· Jaime González, owner, Keso Mexican Grill in Johns Creek, Georgia.

· Michael Hickey, president, Institutional, Ecolab Inc. in St. Paul, Minnesota.

· Peter Meersman, president and CEO, Colorado Restaurant Association in Denver, Colorado.

· Sally Smith, president & CEO, Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

· Joseph Taylor, vice president, corporate affairs, Brinker International, Inc. in Dallas, Texas

· Steven Watson, chief operating officer/general manager, Mendakota Country Club in Mendota Heights, Minnesota.

They join a distinguished group of prominent leaders from all sectors of the industry who are committed to providing counsel on the NRAEF’s strategic direction, specifically as it relates to growing and strengthening the ProStart program and the NRAEF Scholarship Program. The new trustees will serve on the NRAEF’s board January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2014.

Sally Camacho, WP24

WP24 Restaurant & Lounge is excited to welcome back pastry chef Sally Camacho to the restaurant. After a whirlwind 2011 as the pastry chef at WP24, which included numerous awards, accolades and competitions, Camacho assisted the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group in the opening of its new restaurant before returning to WP24 at the beginning of 2012 as pastry chef.

For Camacho, 2011 brought exciting opportunities, including competing on Bravo’s “Top Chef Just Desserts” and representing the United States at the Valrhona C3 World Competition in Madrid, where she placed third. Camacho also was recognized by Asian Journal as one of the “Top 10 LifeEASTyle People of 2011.”

After a year of intense competitions and the chance to work closely with great chefs from around the world, Camacho brings a unique perspective in modern, contemporary desserts, along with refined skills and creative vision to WP24. Working alongside Puck’s executive pastry chef Sherry Yard, Camacho’s menu showcases her French and American pastry culinary background, while continuing to honor the classic Asian flavors and ingredients served at WP24.

Blending the innovative pasty expertise of Yard and Camacho, Camacho is introducing several new desserts to the menu inspired by both nostalgia and her desire to continue to evolve her craft.

The Ovaltine Candy Bar is destined to become a WP24 signature dessert. Inspired by Camacho’s childhood, drinking Ovaltine after school, she takes classic chocolate malt powder and transforms it into a sophisticated dessert with Puffed Black Rice, Ovaltine Mousse, Cocoa Nibs and a Caramelia Ovaltine Glace.

With an eye towards seasonality and the Puck Group’s enviable relationships with many local farmers who grow produce just for Sherry Yard and her team of pastry chefs, Camacho has added the Pear Umai with Roasted Market Pears, Hojicha Ice Cream and Star Anise Donuts to the menu. Hojicha is a roasted green tea which yields toasty caramel notes, a perfect complement to the spice found in the donuts and the perfectly ripe, roasted pears.

“I am delighted to be back in the kitchen at WP24 and return to the energy of downtown Los Angeles,” said chef Camacho. “It is with great enthusiasm that I continue to work with my team to continue to grow the reputation of this great restaurant.”


News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.