RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) board member, Cumberland resident and restaurateur Bahjat Shariff was elected to serve on the board of directors for the National Restaurant Association (NRA). The NRA board consists of roughly 100 voting directors from across the country. Shariff brings an extensive background of restaurant knowledge and management skills to his new role. He is currently an operating partner and senior vice president of operations for Howley Bread Group, a Panera Bread franchise that Shariff helped form in 2000. The group owns and operates more than 20 bakery-cafes in Rhode Island, Connecticut and southeastern Massachusetts, with plans to expand.