Geoff Freeman to Become GMA President/CEO
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has named Geoff Freeman the trade organization’s new president and CEO, effective Aug. 1. Freeman is currently president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based American Gaming Association (AGA), the trade association for the U.S. casino gaming industry.
His appointment follows a comprehensive search begun in February, when Pamela G. Bailey revealed her impending retirement after almost a decade at Washington-based GMA’s helm. Over the next two months, Freeman will work with Bailey, GMA’s senior team and its board of directors to ensure a smooth leadership transition.
“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,” noted William “Billy” Cyr, CEO of Secaucus, N.J.-based 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.”
During his five-year tenure at AGA, Freeman modernized the association and increased its membership, created consensus on key issues, shifted perceptions in Washington and on Main Street, and racked up significant advocacy victories, most notably in the campaign that paved the way for legalized sports betting nationwide. Earlier, he was COO of the U.S. Travel Association, in which role he successfully campaigned to pass legislation creating $200 million in annual funding to promote U.S. tourism, and had a hand in the development of the TSA PreCheck program.
Further, according to Benno Dorer, chairman and CEO of the Oakland, Calif.-based Clorox Co., vice chairman of the GMA board and a member of the CEO search committee, Freeman has “achieved success in leading industries to embrace communications, social media and grass-roots efforts as tools of contemporary advocacy.”
“Geoff stood out as … 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,” added Vivek Sankaran, president and COO of Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay N.A., a division of PepsiCo Inc., and a member of the search committee.
The wider industry also welcomed Freeman to GMA. “Our evolving grocery business requires the visionary leadership of individuals who can create unique experiences for the consumer, and the appointment of Geoff Freeman to lead the Grocery Manufacturers Association supports this commitment among our industry’s national brands," observed Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute. "While serving the gaming and travel industries, Geoff’s track record of paying attention to consumers’ perceptions and their desire for personal connection to the products they purchase will prove invaluable as he assumes leadership of GMA. I look forward to working closely with Geoff as we collaborate on behalf of our respective members to deliver results for the grocery and food retail supply chain.”
“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.”