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James Beard Foundation names new chief executive

The James Beard Foundation today named Clare Reichenbach as its chief executive. She replaces Susan Ungaro, who was the foundation’s president for 11 years and formally stepped down from the leadership position at the end of December.

Reichenbach’s appointment was announced by Frederic M. Seegal, chairman of the nonprofit’s board of trustees. Reichenbach’s title is new, chosen by the board of directors as being more in line with standards in the corporate and nonprofit world. (There will no longer be a president.)

A joint statement that Seegal issued with Emily Luchetti, the foundation’s chairwoman emeritus, emphasized that the selection had been unanimous and that they had found “the right person to expand the impact and operational strength of the foundation on a global level.” Reichenbach will take the reins Feb. 20.

Unlike Ungaro, who was the editor-in-chief of Family Circle, a magazine that featured food, Reichenbach, 44, admitted to having no culinary experience beyond that of “a deeply impassioned home cook.” She is the founder of CJJR Consulting in New York, whose clients include New York Public Radio and Samsung. Before that, she was with AMC Networks and BBC Worldwide.

A native of Oxford, England, she is a graduate of Oxford University and the advanced management program of Harvard Business School. She has lived in New York for nearly 10 years and has attended a number of events at the James Beard Foundation.

In a telephone interview, she said that her goals included extending awareness of the foundation and bringing it greater global recognition through programs dealing with education diversity, women’s issues and childhood nutrition. She expects to build on marketing opportunities with other organizations and commercial brands.

“I would like to bring the foundation to the next level as a thought leader and tastemaker,” she said, adding, “It’s premature to announce any plans.”

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