The New York State Restaurant Association has named Melissa Autilio Fleischut has its next president and chief executive.

Fleischut succeeds Rick Sampson, who served as the association’s president and chief executive for nearly two decades.

“After 38 years with the association — 19 as president and CEO — I am not retiring, but will be focusing on growing specific association programs to further add value to membership,” Rick Sampson said. “The association began 78 years ago and today is bigger and more relevant than ever. My father, Fred, served as president for nearly 30 years and we are proud to pass on our legacy to Melissa — we can think of no one better to continue to lead and grow the association.”

Fleischut joined the New York State Restaurant Association in 1998 after four years with the National Restaurant Association’s government affairs department in Washington, D.C. She started in New York State as the association’s first regional representative and was named chief operating officer in 2012.

“We have a wonderful team of professionals at the association in Albany, New York City and various locations around the state who work every day to bring value, enlightenment, connections and an edge for success to our members,” Fleischut said in a statement. “My role as president and CEO will be as a catalyst to enhance the value proposition we provide New York State’s restaurateurs and caterers and the overall hospitality experience every day.”

Fleischut has been involved in state and city legislative and regulatory initiatives over the past decade, as well as state wage board proceedings. She has headed the association’s “snowflake logo” rebranding and marketing efforts initiated by the membership committee.

She is currently working with the board and members on the association’s strategic plan, in conjunction with consultant Ken Hutton from Hutton & Company LLC, which includes identifying the evolving priorities of members, the association said.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
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