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New IFA Leader Addresses Issues, Fundraising


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Robert Cresanti was part of a panel of lawyers from Faegre Baker Daniels who addressed the NLRB's issue at the IFA Franchise Business luncheon in Minneapolis.

Former International Franchise Association CEO Steve Caldeira was a fantastic PAC fundraiser, his successor Robert Cresanti told the audience at the IFA Franchise Business Network luncheon in Minneapolis January 21. “I am not,” he added.

He credits Caldeira with raising a fourth of IFA’s budget every year. Until the giving gets back to those levels, IFA will have to pick and choose its battles, he said. But what Cresanti may lack as a fundraiser, he makes up for in diplomacy. The feedback IFA had been receiving on Caldeira was that his sometimes shrill, “sky-is-falling” approach was off-putting. And Caldeira had a confrontational relationship with the heads of the National Labor Relations Board and other labor organizations.

“I’ve tried to soften the message,” Cresanti said. “When I came in, I hit the reset button.” Cresanti, incoming IFA Chairman Aziz Hashim and consultant Michael Seid spent time with Richard Griffith, the NLRB’s  general counsel, to attempt to not only find a solution, but also where the line not to cross is located.

That being said, Cresanti had only praise for Caldeira. “I’m here because Steve had a passion for this industry (and) he recruited me,” he told me after the luncheon. Cresanti, a former under secretary for technology for the Department of Commerce, was vice president of corporate affairs and government relations when Caldeira approached him about the executive vice president of government relations and public policy position at IFA. “We both had big networks (in D.C.), but we never crossed paths,” he said. A headhunter called Cresanti and told him he needed to meet this guy, who was described as the “yin to his yang.” Cresanti accepted the job in March 2014, and then took over as president/CEO when Caldeira abruptly resigned in September of last year over a dispute concerning his contract.

Cresanti, who is also a banking and tax attorney, has had no shortage of leadership jobs, mostly in the tech and software industries. Intellectual property is a big part of franchising as well, he pointed out. In addition to legislative battles and fundraising, Cresanti has tasked himself with honing his personal relationships with franchise CEOs.

And, of course, the challenge will be to categorize which issues are key drivers for IFA and which are issues IFA can team up with other associations to fight. The NLRB and joint employer issue will continue to be front and center for IFA. Fortunately, Cresanti added, he has an outstanding staff at IFA to support him.

“The question is do we slow down on other areas, such as international,” he said. “I think we need to double-down and put the 'I' in IFA.” 

And, rest assured, IFA board of directors, he did hit us all up for PAC money.

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Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is associate editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
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Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
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