Changing Of The Guard
MacKie, Sanders Expected to Take ABA to Next Level
Ending months of speculation, the American Bakers Association (ABA) selected Robb MacKie, the association’s vice president of government relations, to become its president and CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2006. MacKie, who joined ABA in 1995, will succeed Paul Abenante, the long-time Washington, D.C., veteran who has led the organization for nearly 20 years. Abenante made public his plans to retire earlier this summer.
In announcing the change in leadership, Gary Prince, ABA chairman and president and CEO of Weston Foods Inc., noted that MacKie’s “energy and focus will help guide the industry through the challenges it faces in the years to come.”
Added Prince: “We feel strongly that Robb has the leadership skills, intelligence and energy to take ABA and the wholesale baking industry to the next level.”
In addition, Lee Sanders, ABA’s vice president of regulatory and technical affairs, was promoted to the newly created position of senior vice president, government relations and public affairs. Prince called Sanders, who retains her title as ABA’s corporate secretary, “one of ABA’s most valuable staff resources” and “an asset” to the organization’s future.
“The creation of this position will take greater advantage of Lee’s expertise within the baking industry and her stature within the food industry,” Prince explained.
Abenante, 58, decided to retire because he accomplished his goals as the association’s chief, and he feels the baking industry is in good shape at this time. Besides, after 35 years in Washington, D.C., he thought the time was right for a change in scenery. Abenante and his wife, Evelyn, are retiring to South Carolina.
“I felt that the industry and ABA were in a situation where I would be leaving at the top of my game,” he said. “Frankly, Washington has become a difficult place to live. After taking the train in for 35 years since I moved here and putting up with the problems, my wife and I just looked at one another and said, ‘The time has come to move on. Life is precious, and we just need to do it now.’”
In his retirement, Abenante plans to golf, travel with his wife and teach on a collegiate level. In addition, the ABA board approved an 18-month consulting agreement in which Abenante would assist the organization on several ad-hoc projects. Throughout the time of the contract, he also will continue to attend and participate in industry events, Prince said.
New Title: Incoming ABA President & CEO
Joined ABA: 1995
Current Title: Vice President of Government Relations. Liaison with ABA’s Human Resources, Safety, Fleet and Distribution Committee; Legal Committee; Executive Leadership Development Committee
Previous Experience: Served with former Rep. Marjorie Holt (R-Md.) and current Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) Represented the construction industry through the American Subcontractors Association and Association of General Contractors
Education: 1985 graduate of Frostburg State University
New Title: Sr. Vice President Government Relations and Public Affairs. Remains ABA’s Corporate Secretary
Joined ABA: 1993
Current Title: ABA’s Vice President, Regulatory and Technical Affairs. Liaison with ABA’s Marketing Committee Legal Committee, Executive Leadership Development Committee and Food Technical Regulatory Affairs Committee. Also Liaison with Grain Foods Foundation. Oversees ABA’s Commodity Task Force
Previous Experience: Legislative aide for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.); professional staff member on the U.S. Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee; political appointee of former President George H.W. Bush’s administration in both the White House Counsel’s Office and at the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Legislative Affairs
Education: B.A. in journalism from University of Mississippi, 1985