Association TRENDS named the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) executive vice president for policy and government affairs, Scott DeFife, a 2013 Leading Association Lobbyist.
“The restaurant industry is impacted by a wide range of policy issues at every level of government, and Scott has been a strong advocate for the National Restaurant Association and our members ahead of every challenge and opportunity,” says Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the NRA. “Scott’s leadership continues to be instrumental in advancing the industry’s priorities to benefit restaurateurs nationwide.”
Since joining the NRA in 2010, DeFife has been a key player in many of the association’s successful efforts, including the campaign to overturn the New York City beverage ban. The ruling was a victory for restaurant operators and industry suppliers that would have experienced financial hardships had the ban been enacted.
Also under DeFife’s leadership, the association played a significant role in encouraging the Obama administration’s decision to delay the health care law’s employer-mandate penalties and some reporting requirements until 2015. The NRA continues to be vocal about the concerns and needs of its members and has provided extensive resources to help members comply, including an online Health Care Reform Headquarters, comprehensive Health Care Law Toolkit, and Notification Tool for employees.
DeFife is also a leader in the Merchant Payments Coalition, which secured a victory in July when a U.S. District Court found the Federal Reserve’s final rule on debit card swipe fees violated congressional intent. His direction has been crucial in working to protect restaurateurs—the majority of which are small businesses —from excessive, hidden, and continuously increasing credit card swipe fees.
"Lobbying for an association in today’s challenging political environment involves so much more than ‘shoe-leather’ and relationships, which remain important, but to be successful, you have to be an advocate for the industry you represent, and you have to prepare for the unexpected and unconventional,” DeFife told Association TRENDS. “National issues are being fought at local levels, outside the typical policymaker arena, and local challenges can become national issues overnight. You have to build and protect the reputation of the industry you represent and blend your legislative strategy with your regulatory, legal, political, and media strategies. We have focused resources on building a strong regulatory and legal foundation, but strived to take that knowledge and tell the industry story with simple but compelling facts and messaging."