The National Restaurant Association has named Matt Walker as its new vice president of Government Affairs. He will lead the NRA's advocacy strategy in the U.S. Senate and support efforts directed at the U.S. House of Representatives and Administration.

Prior to joining the NRA, Walker worked in Congress for 14 years, most recently as the longtime deputy staff director and chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and senior aide to former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

His accomplishments include developing and spearheading legislative initiatives credited with helping the Small Business Administration support more than $30 billion in small business loans, the highest level in the agency's history. He has been recognized in major national publications as among the top aides on Capitol Hill.

"Matt's Senate tenure and policy expertise on small business issues will allow him to be an effective advocate on behalf of America's nearly 1 million restaurants," said Scott DeFife, executive vice president of the NRA. "The foodservice industry is affected by policy decisions on a wide array of issues, ranging from tax reform to health care to immigration reform, and the National Restaurant Association's policy team will be working in 2013 to promote policies that allow restaurants to continue to create jobs. Matt is a valued addition to our team at a critical time."

Walker is a recently retired veteran of the Armed Forces and was deployed to Afghanistan from 2006-2007. A Maine native, Walker earned a bachelor of arts degree in Political Science and an interdisciplinary in Legal Studies from the University of Maine and a Juris Doctor from the Maine School of Law.

Educational foundation plans fundraising event

The NRA's Educational Foundation (NRAEF) will host its 21st annual Ted J. Balestreri Leadership Classic in Pebble Beach, Calif., from March 6-9. Leaders of the restaurant and foodservice industry will tee off in support of the NRAEF's ProStart and Scholarship programs.

The Ted J. Balestreri Leadership Classic features access to three of the world's top golf courses and the Monterey Wine Education Foundation's Monterey Wine & Lifestyle Auction Dinner. The non-golfer program features winery tours, spa services and scenic views of the Monterey Peninsula.

Limited event sponsorships are still available including the $50,000 (Eagle), $25,000 (Birdie), $15,000(Par) and $5,000 (Caddy) levels. New for 2013, single hole sponsorships are also available for $2,000(Single Hole), $4,000 (Double Hole), or $5,500 (Triple Hole). For additional information on sponsor packages, contact Shakon Turner, director of Development, at 813-362-1455 or sturner@nraef.org.

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