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National Restaurant Association names Michelle Korsmo CEO

The Beltway veteran brings to the post a combination of association leadership, policymaking and advocacy experience.
Michelle Korsmo
Photo courtesy of National Restaurant Association

The National Restaurant Association has appointed Michelle Korsmo, a seasoned association executive with a policymaking background, as its new president and CEO, effective May 1.

Korsmo will also serve as CEO of the association’s training and educational arm, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

Observers have been waiting to see if the association would fill the vacancy with someone with deep association experience or opt for a lobbying veteran to serve the group's advocacy mission. Korsmo brings experience in both realms. 

For about the last four years, she has been president and CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, a trade association for the alcoholic-beverage industry. Prior to that post, she was CEO of the American Land Title Association and has also held a senior position at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a conservative think tank focused on economic policy and opportunity.

During the first administration of President George W. Bush, Korsmo was deputy chief of staff for Elaine Chao, then the U.S. secretary of labor.

Korsmo assumes the top job at the association from Marvin Irby, who was fulfilling the roles on an interim basis until a new permanent CEO was hired. The post was vacated by the resignation late last summer of Tom Bene. Irby is also the group's CFO and chief people officer.

“Every restaurant—Main Street eateries, quick-service cafes, fine-dining establishments, and all the foodservice locations in between—depend on the National Restaurant Association to serve as the leading advocate on their behalf at each level of government, especially given the unprecedented challenges restaurants continue to face from COVID-19’s impact on our country,” Korsmo said in a prepared statement. “Sharing the innovative ways these restaurants are serving those communities can better inform policymaking while also attracting the next generation of foodservice leaders and employees. It’s a tremendous honor for me to help lead that effort.”

The association is the majority owner of Winsight, parent company of Restaurant Business.

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