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NRA names new head of public affairs

WASHINGTON The National Restaurant Association has named Elizabeth Johnson, most recently the acting undersecretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to the newly created post of executive vice president for public affairs.

In her new capacity, Johnson will head government affairs, public policy and communications at the NRA. John Gay, senior vice president, government affairs and public policy, and Sue Hensley, senior vice president of communications, will report directly to Johnson.

Johnson joined the USDA in 2002, and during her time there also served as deputy chief of staff and senior advisor. Prior to her roles at the USDA, she spent nearly four years as a vice president at public-relations firm Fleishman-Hillard, with clients in the food and agriculture industries.

A registered dietician, Johnson also held such positions as senior professional staff member at the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and nutritionist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. She also served as associate director for food policy at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Dawn Sweeney, president and chief executive of the NRA, called Johnson “uniquely qualified to lead our government relations, public policy and communications effort.”

“Her strong government experience, in both the executive and legislative branches, and her ability to work with members of both parties will be of enormous benefit to the association and the restaurant industry,” Sweeney said.

U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., said: “Beth has provided a great deal of experience and insight during her tenure at the USDA. Her ability to listen to and appropriately weigh all sides of an issue prior to making decisions has served the Secretary and the American people well.”

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