Washington D.C. insider and former administration official John Spitaleri Shaw takes the helm at the Natural Products Association (NPA) as its new executive director and CEO, the organization announced yesterday.
This will be Shaw's first position working in the natural products industry, but NPA President Jeff Wright is confident that Shaw's extensive experience in the public policy arena is just what the industry needs to help elevate and support its efforts.
"[Shaw] has the skills, talent and vision to lead NPA into an even more dynamic future, while maintaining its commitment to provide high-quality support for our members," Wright said in a release. "John is the right leader at the right time for the job.”
Industry veterans mirrored Wright's optimism.
"I know many in the industry, and perhaps in the association, expected an insider leadership choice. They may be very disappointed and even vocal," said Len Monheit, executive director of Engredea. "I hope we make every attempt, as an industry, to maintain momentum and solidarity on key issues as much as we can, and give Mr. Shaw his opportunity to take the stage and make a positive impact."
Prior to joining the NPA, Shaw worked on the presidential campaigns of President Bush and former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.). He also held a number of top positions in Washington, D.C. including: Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health at the Department of Energy; Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at the Portland Cement Association; Senate Investigative Counsel to Senator Fred Thompson; Public Policy Attorney with the Law Firm of Patton Boggs, LLP.
In his role with the Portland Cement Association, Shaw met personally with lawmakers to discuss legislation that would potentially limit manufacturers' CO2 emissions. At the time, cement manufacturing generated about 1.4 percent of all U.S. emissions. Shaw supported a bill that assessed emissions on a sector-by-sector basis.
"Besides being prepared and knowing your stuff, educate everyone who will listen, one office at a time. Sounds hard, and it is," he told Politico.com at the time.
Industry leaders react to NPA's new CEO
NPA members believe Shaw will bring that same level of dedication to issues impacting the natural products industry.
"Though John doesn't have a lot of experience in the natural products industry, I wasn't at all surprised with the decision," said Jon Fiume, NPA board member and vice president of retail operations for Ritzman Natural Health Pharmacies."We're really looking for his expertise and experience with our legislative efforts. We need a strong advocate and voice in Washington, D.C."
With more than 1,900 members and multiple offices across the country, Shaw will also be charged with uniting and bringing leadership to the NPA. The organization represents all factions of the natural products industry including retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and consumers. Since John Gay left his post in December 2011, the NPA has been without a CEO.
"I don’t think he's walking into the easiest job," said Patrick Rea, market leader for Engredea and Nutrition Business Journal. "The association has had interim leadership for a long time. It's complex and varied and serves a lot of interests."
Until the industry has time to interface with Shaw, many say they will "wait and see" how he embraces his new role.
"I was not part of the search committee or decision to hire John Shaw, so I can’t comment on whether he is the right person," said Al Powers, CEO of NOW Health Group. "I have heard that he has a personal passion for nutrition and natural products and that is good for the industry. I look forward to meeting him in Washington, D.C."
This week, Shaw heads to Las Vegas to address the NPA's board of directors and participate in the organization's annual trade show, NPA MarketPlace, which is put on in partnership with New Hope Natural Media.