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"We are pleased that Dick will lead our Association Board over the next year, spearheading the industry's priorities and representing the 12.8 million employees who work in the nation's restaurants," said Peter Kilgore, acting interim president and chief executive officer of the Association. "Dick Rivera is a well-respected and exemplary leader in the restaurant industry who understands the inner workings of the industry from the dish room to the board room. Serving as a past chairman of several Board committees, he brings valuable experience and insights on issues that impact the industry."
The chairmanship is a volunteer position elected from and by the voting member body of the Board of Directors. The chairman serves as a leader in the restaurant industry. When electing the chairman, consideration focuses on the individual's level of involvement in Board activities, his or her leadership skills, stature and involvement in industry activities.
A veteran of restaurant industry affairs, Rivera has served a total of 14 years on the Association's Board as a voting director. His leadership positions on the Board have included chairmanship of the Government Affairs and Public Policy and Convention committees, as well as task forces on MultiCultural Outreach and Technology Development.
Rivera's company, Rubicon Enterprises LLC, is a restaurant development company based in Sarasota, Florida. The company focuses on two brands: the well-established TGI Friday's and an emerging concept, Marlow's Tavern, a 21st century version of the classic American tavern in a neighborhood environment.
Rivera began his career of more than 30 years in the restaurant industry with Steak and Ale Restaurants of America. He has held executive positions with a number of leading restaurant companies, including Darden Restaurants; RARE Hospitality International, Inc.; TGI Friday's, Inc.; Applebee's; and El Chico Corp.
Rivera has received numerous industry awards for his achievements, including the "Golden Chain" restaurant leadership award from Nation's Restaurant News, and the "Restaurant Business Leadership Award." He was also honored as one of the top restaurant operators in the U.S. with the prestigious Silver Plate award from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association. The Women's Foodservice Forum awarded Rivera its Trailblazer Award for his commitment to the diversity of cultures, perspectives, attitudes and ideas in the workplace.
Rivera is also past Chairman of the Florida Citrus Sports Association, a community-based charitable organization that sponsors, among other events, the annual Champs Sports and Capital One Bowls in Orlando, and is active in the World President's Organization. He holds a bachelor's degree from Washington and Lee University, and an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from Johnson & Wales University. Before launching his career in the restaurant industry, Rivera spent two years in the Army as a 1st Lieutenant.
Joining Rivera as officers for the 2007-2008 term are: Michael S. Kaufman, president of Pond Hill Ventures LLC, in Chappaqua, NY, elected as vice chair; and Michael Gibbons, president of Main Street Ventures in Ann Arbor, MI, elected as treasurer.