Duo grabs top-level communication posts at Darden Restaurants

ORLANDO, FL: Darden Restaurants, the US' largest publicly held "casual dining company and holder of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains, has boosted two employees to top-level communications posts.

ORLANDO, FL: Darden Restaurants, the US' largest publicly held "casual dining company and holder of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains, has boosted two employees to top-level communications posts.

Jim DeSimone, formerly head of Red Lobster's PR, will now oversee all internal and external communications for the 122,000-employee company.

"Darden has a great business story to tell, DeSimone said. "It is not only a company of great financial performance, but it also cares about the communities in which it does business."

DeSimone's first job is to integrate the external and internal communications departments, which until now, operated independently. He will also take over the travel- and meeting-planning departments to promote "a constant approach to communications, explained DeSimone.

Darden has also appointed George Williams as head of governmental and environmental relations. Previously the company's general counsel, he will now oversee public affairs as well as diversity efforts and charitable giving through the Darden Foundation, which gave more than $3.4 million to nonprofit causes last year.

"Our government and environmental relations work helps us speak clearly on critical public policy issues, said Rick Walsh, SVP of corporate affairs.

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