Soda industry CEO to head life insurer's group

Soda industry CEO to head life insurer's group
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Susan Neely is leaving her role as president and CEO of the American Beverage Association to helm the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI).

She’ll be joining the organization this summer, when the current president and CEO of ACLI, Dirk Kempthorne, steps down. He led the life insurer’s group for eight years.

“Susan is a recognized and proven strategic leader who understands the intersection of politics and business and the importance and impact of informed public policy advocacy,” said Mark Mullin, the chairman of ACLI’s board and president and CEO of Transamerica.

Neely has led the soda industry group since 2005.

Before that, she served as one of the creators of the Department of Homeland Security and worked at the department during the George W. Bush administration.

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Neely also established the advocacy and public affairs efforts for the Association of American Medical Colleges, among other experiences in the public and private sectors.

In a statement, Neely said she looked forward to taking on the new role.

“ACLI’s successes in state, federal and international forums have placed the association and its members in a strong position to lead the public policy debate on the next steps needed to help Americans obtain long-term financial peace of mind,” she said.

The group spent $3.2 million to lobby the federal government from January to October last year and more than $4.5 million in all of 2016.

“She is the right person to lead ACLI during this time when it is so important to advance policies that help American families obtain the financial and retirement security they want and need,” Mullin said. “On behalf of the ACLI Board and its member companies, I’d also like to thank Dirk for his dedicated service to ACLI and our industry.”

Kempthorne — who previously served as a senator, the governor of Idaho and secretary of the Interior during the George W. Bush administration — had a total compensation of more than $2.3 million in 2015, according to the most recent tax forms available. His contract was set to expire in 2019.

“I welcome the board’s selection of Susan Neely as ACLI’s new president and CEO. During my eight years at the organization, it has been a joy to work with many life insurer CEOs and staff in our noble mission of providing financial and retirement security to millions of families,” Kempthorne said in a statement.