March 27/Mclean, Va./Prepared Foods -– The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) announced the promotions of three members of its staff.

Lucas Darnell has been named vice president for Member Services. He previously served as senior director of Member Services. Darnell administers member retention and recruitment programs, plans and implements programs and events focusing on the frozen food industry’s distribution and logistics sector, and oversees affinity programs and revenue-generating initiatives. During his years at AFFI, he has served the Institute’s members in the communications, public policy and industry affairs departments. In his new role, Darnell will report to AFFI’s senior vice president of Financial Operations and Special Projects Linda K. Ziglar.

Darnell is a graduate of West Virginia University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English, with a concentration in grammar and creative writing and a minor in communications. He received from the American Society of Association Executives his Certified Association Executive designation and is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Organization Management.

Elise Cortina has been named director of Public and Industry Affairs. She previously served as senior manager for Communications and Marketing. Cortina oversees many of the organization’s communications activities, including marketing for AFFI events, maintaining the AFFI website and publishing Freeze Flash, AFFI’s weekly electronic newsletter. Recently, she has taken an active industry affairs role, lending support to the membership as well as AFFI’s public policy team. Cortina will continue to report to AFFI’s vice president of Communications Jorge Martinez.

Cortina is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in Spanish and foreign affairs. While at UVA, she studied at La Universidad de Sevilla, las Facultades de Filología y Geografía e Historia. She also earned a master’s degree in mass communications from the University of Florida.

Finally, Jason Bassett has been promoted to the position of director of Legislative Affairs. He previously served as manager of Legislative Affairs. Bassett will work to increase AFFI’s profile on Capitol Hill and to advocate on behalf of the frozen food industry. In his enhanced capacity, Bassett will report to AFFI’s senior vice president of Public Policy and International Affairs Robert L. Garfield.

Bassett joined AFFI in 1997, having most recently worked at the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, where he served as a member of the Committee's minority professional staff, working closely with the ranking member, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME). Previously, he served as a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Small Business Administration. Bassett is a graduate of George Mason University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science.

“Lucas continues to be a tremendous asset to this organization and through his tenure at AFFI has developed extensive knowledge of the industry and our membership,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer of AFFI. “Elise and Jason have also come to be integral in our day-to-day operations in just a short time. I look forward to working very closely with each of them as we continue to enhance AFFI’s role in representing the interests of its membership and the entire frozen food category.”

From the April 14, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash