The Grocery Manufacturers Association will replace soon-to-be retired president and CEO Pamela G. Bailey with Geoff Freeman, currently the CEO of the American Gaming Association, effective August 1.
Freeman's selection comes after a comprehensive search following the February announcement by Bailey of her intent to retire after nearly 10 years as GMA's president and CEO. Bailey will work closely with Freeman over the next two months to ease his transition.
Freeman shared that he has always been "drawn to industries that have a close connection to consumers " and that he is "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."
"I look forward to leading the development of strategies that firmly establish GMA as an effective driver of growth and collaboration in our industry," he said.
William (Billy) Cyr, CEO of Freshpet, Inc. and head of the board search committee praised Freeman for his "proven track record of building unity, creating successful engagement on complex issues and taking a proactive approach to advocacy that drives growth and expansion."
"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," he said.
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," according to GMA officials.
An example of this leadership was the AGA's participation in a campaign that declared the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act unconstitutional, opening the door for legalized sports betting nationwide.
Before his time at AGA, Freeman was the CEO 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 leading to 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.
Additionally, Vivek Sankaran, president and CEO of Frito-Lay N.A., PepsiCo, Inc. and a member of the search committee said Freeman stood out because of his "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."
Food Marketing Institute (FMI) President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin also praised Freeman's appointment.
“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," she said. "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.”