USO has new top brass to clarify its nonprofit status

WASHINGTON: The United Service Organization (USO), which became a household name by sending performers overseas to entertain US servicemen and women, has a new senior vice president of marketing and communications.

WASHINGTON: The United Service Organization (USO), which became a household name by sending performers overseas to entertain US servicemen and women, has a new senior vice president of marketing and communications.

John Hanson, formerly VP of communications at Very Special Arts, will report to Edward Powell, newly appointed president and CEO of the 61-year-old organization.

Despite its longevity and visibility, the USO must still explain to people "who we are,

said Hanson. He stated that many people think the USO is part of the federal government when, in fact, it is a private organization that must compete with other nonprofits for funds.

The USO has two ongoing projects: maintaining 122 service centers, and engineering worldwide tours by performers.

The appointment of Wayne Newton as chairman of the USO Celebrity Circle in October 2001 helped bring renewed awareness to the USO, and more participation from entertainers.

Late last year, Mariah Carey, Drew Carey, Jessica Simpson, Peter MacNicol, and Jennifer Lopez made their first USO tours. In addition, performers such as Jay Leno, Wayne Newton, and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders went overseas to entertain US fighting forces during the December holiday season.

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