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The National Confectioners Association (NCA) has appointed John H. Downs Jr. president of the Washington, D.C.-based trade organization, effective this summer. Downs, a senior advisor to the president of Coca-Cola Americas for The Coca-Cola Co., in Atlanta, will succeed Lawrence T. Graham, who is retiring later this month after 22 years with the NCA.
As the NCA's chief representative, Downs will manage both strategic direction and daily operations at the approximately 600-member association's 25-person office. The NCA organizes the American confectionery industry's largest trade show, the Sweets & Snacks Expo, which will take place May 20-22 at McCormick Place, in Chicago.
"John's strong leadership and record of accomplishments will serve our membership well," said Robert Simpson, NCA board chairman and COO of Jelly Belly Candy Co., in Fairfield, Calif. "His public affairs background in the consumer product goods arena, coupled with his business acumen and experience with member-driven trade associations, provide him with a solid foundation for understanding the needs and capably serving the small, medium and large companies the NCA represents."
Coca-Cola and Public Service
In his most recent role, Downs focused on strategic stakeholder engagement, government relations and public affairs in North America and Latin America. Previously, he was VP of global government, diplomatic and stakeholder relations for The Coca-Cola Co., and SVP of public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola Enterprises, one of the world's largest Coca-Cola bottlers. Downs has worked for the Coca-Cola organization since 1986, when he joined the Mid-Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Co. as a VP. His experience spans public affairs, government relations, communications, association management, international affairs and corporate social responsibility.
Downs began his government relations career as a legislative assistant to Maryland's speaker of the house, later joining the Glass Packaging Institute and then the American Beverage Association, both based in Washington.
"The NCA enjoys a reputation for getting things done, for building relationships and for its professional staff, thanks in large part to the culture that Larry worked to establish," added Simpson. "Both Larry and John are committed to a smooth transition as we look to the future."
"NCA member companies have an impact on consumers around the world, and the association helps make that possible," noted Downs, who revealed his intention to "increase the reach of the NCA."