The National Restaurant Association and its Educational Foundation unveiled their board officers and directors for 2019.

Joe Essa, president of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide Inc., will serve as chair of the National Restaurant Association, and Geoff Hill, managing director of Roark Capital Group, will serve as chair of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and the Educational Foundation, said the new officers would provide the critical leadership necessary to ensure the restaurant industry’s continued growth and success.

This year’s chairs, Joe Essa and Geoff Hill, bring years of experience and passion for our industry to their new roles,” she said. “Their first-hand knowledge and dedication will provide valuable insights that will help the Association and Foundation navigate the challenges our industry faces.”

In addition to Essa, Vice Chair Melvin Rodrigue, president and CEO of Galatoire’s Restaurants, and Treasurer Brian E. Casey, president of Oak Hill Tavern and the Company Picnic Company, will lead the Restaurant Association’s board.

Foundation officers supporting Hill are Vice Chair Stan Harris, president and CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, and treasurer Susan Adzick, senior vice president of sales and strategic relationships at McLane Foodservice.

Each of the officers will serve a year term.

In addition to naming the new officers, The Restaurant Association also added several new members to the board. The newly elected directors include:
Brad Anderson, president of Anderson Management Group, Billings, Mont.
Jean-Marie Clement, vice president of Food and Beverage, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
John Teza, director of NRD Capital Management, Atlanta.
Jett Mehta, president and CEO of Indus Hospitality Group, Rochester, N.Y.
Don Balfour, vice president of Waffle House Inc., Norcross, Ga.
John Cywinski, president of Applebee's Grill & Bar, Glendale, Calif.
Dan Rowe, CEO of Fransmart, Alexandria, Va.

The Educational Foundation also added new board members. They include:
Brett Ladd, CEO of Sodexo Government, Gaithersburg, Md.
Derek Small, director of culinary training for Troop Café, Milwaukee.
Greg Barber, Vice President of Global Business Development, PepsiCo, White Plains, N.Y.
James Fripp, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Yum! Brands Inc., Plano, Texas

The board is comprised of about 70 voting directors, who represent every facet of the U.S. restaurant and foodservice industry. They provide strategic guidance to the Association as it seeks to advance and protect the interests of the restaurant and foodservice industry.