GMA names new CEO
The Grocery Manufacturers Association has named Geoff Freeman as the organization’s new president and chief executive officer effective Aug. 1.
Freeman is president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA), the trade association for the U.S. casino gaming industry.
Freeman’s selection comes after a comprehensive search following the February announcement by Pamela G. Bailey of her intent to retire after nearly 10 years as GMA’s president and CEO. Freeman will work with Bailey, GMA’s senior team and its board of directors over the next two months to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.
“Geoff has a proven track record of building unity, creating successful engagement on complex issues and taking a proactive approach to advocacy that drives growth and expansion,” said William (Billy) Cyr, Chief Executive Officer of Freshpet, Inc. and head of the board search committee. “We look forward to benefiting from Geoff’s extensive experience in leading transformative change across industries as diverse as health care insurance, travel and tourism, and casino gaming.”
In his five years leading the AGA, Freeman modernized the association and built the membership, created consensus on key issues, shifted perceptions in Washington and on main street and achieved significant advocacy victories. Most notably, the AGA drove the campaign to declare the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional, paving the way for legalized sports betting nationwide. Freeman was previously Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Travel Association, where he successfully campaigned to enact the Travel Promotion Act, creating $200 million in funding annually to promote tourism to the United States, and paved the way for the creation of the TSA PreCheck program.
“Geoff has a clear understanding that perception drives policy. His approach balances strong offense with smart defense and he’s achieved success in leading industries to embrace communications, social media and grassroots efforts as tools of contemporary advocacy,” said Benno Dorer, Chairman and CEO of The Clorox Company, vice chairman of the GMA Board and a member of the CEO search committee.
“Geoff stood out as having a dynamic perspective and is the best person to lead our industry’s response to the changing needs of consumers, along with those of the companies – large and small – whose interests GMA represents,” said Vivek Sankaran, President and Chief Operating Officer, Frito-Lay N.A., PepsiCo, Inc. and a member of the search committee.
GMA’s membership includes the world’s leading food, beverage and consumer products companies that sustain and better the quality of life for hundreds and millions of people in the United States and around the globe. The industry is a major driver of the nation’s economy and the single largest U.S. manufacturing employment sector.
“I’ve always been drawn to industries that have a close connection to consumers and am energized by the opportunity to play a role in driving the growth and evolution of one that is a vital part of people’s daily lives,” Freeman said. “I look forward to leading the development of strategies that firmly establish GMA as an effective driver of growth and collaboration in our industry.”