The Sugar Association, Inc., has named nutrition scientist Courtney Gaine, Ph.D., R.D., to lead the organization as chief executive officer and hired two key staff members to help carry out its updated mission with a focus on science and transparency, said Chairman of the Board Brian O’Malley.

“Dr. Gaine has the expertise in health and science that we need to bring balance to the discussion about diet and to engage in productive dialogue with consumers, policy makers, scientists, medical professionals and public health professionals,” O’Malley said.

Gaine joined The Sugar Association in 2014 as vice president of scientific affairs. She is a registered dietitian with a background in exercise science and a Ph.D. in nutritional sciences and biochemistry. Gaine, 39, was co-captain of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team in the late ‘90s. She is passionate about evidence-based policy and bringing facts to the dialogue on sugar.

“When used appropriately, sugar does have a place in a healthy diet and aids in the enjoyment of a range of nutritious foods and treats,” Gaine said. “I am committed to driving the association’s new mission to serve as the scientific voice of the U.S. sugar industry. We will continue to openly support new research and to share reliable information with consumers.”

“Everyone knows sugar tastes great,” Gaine said. “But there’s so much more to sugar that makes it so special. We are proud to represent this industry in telling the story of nature’s original sweetener from the beet and cane fields to the table.”

In addition to naming Gaine CEO, the association hired Christina Hartman, MPH, as vice president of public affairs and Catherine Nnoka as director of operations.

Hartman has a background in science and public health policy and is skilled at building alliances between the public and private sectors. Hartman will work with Gaine to strengthen partnerships and share the great story of sugar.

Nnoka, who has 25 years’ experience in life sciences and experience in science-related nonprofits, will develop and manage critical infrastructure vital to the achievement of the association’s goals.

The Sugar Association, founded in 1943, represents nearly 12,000 beet and cane sugar growers, processors and refiners in the United States. The US sugar industry generates 142,000 jobs in 22 states and contributes $20 billion to the economy annually.