The Distilled Spirits Council and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility have named Chris R. Swonger, long-time government affairs executive and industry veteran, the president and CEO of both organizations.
The move is meant to more closely align the missions and activities of the two groups.
Under Swonger’s direction, both organizations will maintain individual identities and missions while aligning under common executive leadership, the groups say. Swonger will join DISCUS on Nov 12, and will assume leadership of Responsibility.org effective Jan 1, 2019.
Funded by distillers, Responsibility.org fights to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking, and promotes responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol.
Swonger most recently served as senior vice president for global government relations at Smiths Group, a global technology company with interests in homeland security, defense, aerospace, energy and environment, and medical devices, among others. Previously, he spent 15 years in the spirits industry, during which he led government affairs for Beam and Allied Domecq.
“Chris is a terrific fit to lead these organizations at a dynamic time in our industry,” says Deirdre Mahlan, president of Diageo North America and chair of DISCUS. “He brings a wealth of advocacy experience, vision and energy, along with background in our industry and outstanding passion for our commitment to responsibility.
“I would also like to thank interim CEO Clarkson Hine for his leadership and excellent work driving continued momentum at the council,” Mahlan adds.
Swonger, a Texas native and graduate of Texas Tech, lives in McLean, Va. with his wife Amy and two sons, Holden and Beckett.
“I’m looking forward to returning to the distilled spirits industry, and will be honored to promote and protect the interests of such fine companies and advance their high standards of responsibility and policy advocacy,” says Swonger. “I plan to vigorously promote moderation and responsibility, while advocating for market access, equal treatment and common-sense policies that enable the continued growth of the distilled spirits industry.
“And, I look forward to working closely with the boards of both organizations to maximize the impact of their respective visions, missions and strategies,” he adds.