American Beverage Association taps DHS public affairs pro for top post

WASHINGTON: Susan Neely, former assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been named president of the American Beverage Association (ABA).

WASHINGTON: Susan Neely, former assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been named president of the American Beverage Association (ABA).

Neely, who begins on May 16, takes over from William L. Ball II, who headed the association from 1989 until last month.

Neely comes to the organization as the beverage industry, and especially soft drink producers, have come under fire from health advocates who claim their products promote health problems.

Neely acknowledged that dealing with this issue will be a top priority.

"There is a clear need and opportunity for a strategic communications strategy and I will be concentrating on that from day one if not before," she said.

Neely was the first director of public affairs for DHS, which was created in 2002. She was late last year by Brian Besanceney.

Prior to her position at DHS, Neely served as a special assistant to the president for homeland security. She also has healthcare association experience, having been with the Health Insurance Association of America and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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