USA Rice Federation Chairman Al Montna today announced the selection of Betsy Ward as the organization's new president and CEO effective May 1.

“We look forward to the excellent management skills Betsy will bring back to the Federation after her two-year absence,” Montna said. “The USA Rice Board of Directors also recognizes the superior leadership and work of Bob Cummings in his handling of genetically engineered rice issues, and has elevated his position to that of senior vice president,” Montna said.

Ward served for two years as the USA Rice vice president for domestic and international promotion before becoming executive director of the Hardwood Federation in Washington in May 2005.

“I am very excited about returning to the rice industry and look forward to working closely with all the members of the USA Rice Federation on the many challenges and opportunities we face,” said Ward, who from 1995 to 2003 ran the wood international program of the American Forest & Paper Association. Prior to that, beginning in 1991, she was executive director of the American Hardwood Export Council.

Ward earned her a bachelor's degree from the University of New Hampshire and a master's degree from the School of International Affairs at Columbia University.

“I Look forward to working with Betsy and USA Rice members and staff on key issues like the farm bill, maintaining the marketability of U.S. rice, and building consensus within the industry,” Cummings said.

“USA Rice members will now have an even stronger senior management team in place to handle the Federation's affairs in Washington and around the globe,” Montna said. “Please join me in congratulating Betsy and Bob in their new roles.”

The Kincannon & Reed executive search firm in Vienna, Va., assisted USA Rice in its CEO search.