DEARBORN, MI: Jim Vella, VP of public affairs at Ford, is taking on the additional title of chief of staff to chairman William Clay Ford.
Vella will now manage the company's staff and work more closely with the chairman than he has in the past. He will concentrate on scheduling Ford's public appearances in line with company business objectives, Vella said.
As a result of the added responsibilities that he will be taking on as chief of staff, Vella has realigned the reporting lines within the communications department at Ford.
Jim Bright, who had been executive director of Ford automotive operations public affairs, has become executive director of public affairs, reporting to Vella.
Five public affairs staffers who had reported to Vella will now report to Bright.
Brenda Hines is taking the new position of director of external communications.
She will coordinate Ford's senior management communications activities, overseeing speech writing. Hines had been running Ford's manufacturing PR before taking on the new post.
Vella's promotion comes as former Ford chief of staff John Rintamaki takes his retirement. His responsibilities have been split between Vella and a Ford vice chairman.
Vella assumed the automaker's top communications post at the end of 2001 after Jason Vines left Ford following the departure of its former CEO Jac Nasser.