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National Confectioners Association Appoints President

Contact: Susan Whiteside

May 14, 2014

Washington, DC – The Board of Trustees of the National Confectioners Association today announced the appointment of John H. Downs, Jr., to president of the trade association, according to Robert Simpson, NCA Board chairman and COO of Jelly Belly Candy Company. Downs, a senior advisor to the president of Coca-Cola Americas for The Coca-Cola Company, will succeed Lawrence T. Graham, who will have served the Association for 22 years when he retires later this month.

“We are pleased to welcome John to the Association,” Simpson said. “John’s strong leadership and record of accomplishments will serve our membership well. His public affairs background in the consumer product goods arena, coupled with his business acumen and experience with member-driven trade associations, provide him with a solid foundation for understanding the needs and capably serving the small, medium and large companies the NCA represents.”

In his most recent position at The Coca-Cola Company, Downs has focused on strategic stakeholder engagement, government relations and public affairs in North America and Latin America. Prior to this role he was vice president of global government, diplomatic, and stakeholder relations for The Coca-Cola Company. He also previously served as the senior vice president of public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola Enterprises, one of the world’s largest Coca-Cola bottlers. Downs has been with the Coca-Cola organization since 1986 when he joined the Mid-Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company as a vice president. He has broad experience in public affairs, government relations, communications, association management, international affairs, and corporate social responsibility.

Downs began his career in government relations as a legislative assistant to the Speaker of the House in Maryland before joining the Glass Packaging Institute and then the American Beverage Association, both national trade associations in Washington, DC.

“John will be joining an organization with a strong foundation, and I want to personally extend my gratitude to Larry Graham for his leadership of the Association,” Simpson said. “The NCA enjoys a reputation for getting things done, for building relationships and for its professional staff, thanks in large part to the culture that Larry worked to establish. Both Larry and John are committed to a smooth transition as we look to the future.”

“I am thrilled to be joining this incredible organization and becoming a part of its rich history,” said Downs. “NCA member companies have an impact on consumers around the world, and the Association helps make that possible. I look forward to working with the outstanding staff, members and Board to ensure continued success and increase the reach of the NCA.”

Downs will assume the role as president of NCA in the summer of 2014. As the chief representative of the Association, he will be responsible for managing both strategic direction and daily operations. The 25-person office in Washington, DC, has an extensive public policy agenda; is the organizer of the American confectionery industry’s largest trade show, the Sweets & Snacks Expo; conducts both scientific and shopper research; has a well-established international marketing program for U.S.-made products; and serves as the primary voice for the chocolate, cocoa, non-chocolate and gum industries in the United States across a variety of audiences. The U.S confectionery industry employs 70,000 people and produces annual retail sales of $34 billion. The Association has approximately 600 members.

A native of Maryland, Downs holds a degree in political science from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. He has served on a number of charitable and business boards and is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society. Downs and his wife, Molly, have four children.


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NOTE FOR EDITORS: A picture of John H. Downs, Jr., can be downloaded here:

About the National Confectioners Association: Based in Washington, DC, NCA is a trade association representing more than 600 companies engaged in the business of confectionery: 320 companies that manufacture and market the vast majority of chocolate, cocoa, sugar candy and gum sold in the United States; 225 companies that supply those manufacturers; and 115 companies that serve as third-party sales agents for manufacturers, known as brokers. There are confectionery manufacturers in more than 40 states, with a particular concentration in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio and California. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2009 there were about 70,000 confectionery manufacturing jobs in more than 1,000 facilities across the country.