CEO Update has named Susan K. Neely, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Washington, D.C.-based American Beverage Association (ABA), the 2017 Trade Association CEO of the Year, an annual award recognizing outstanding trade association executives. Neely received the award for her forward-thinking leadership as the head of the ABA and her dedication and service to the wider association community, the company says.

“I am honored to be among the leaders who have received this recognition from CEO Update,” Neely said in a statement. “I am grateful for the opportunity to represent this industry and am inspired by their leadership when it comes to taking on big challenges and putting forward bold solutions. America’s beverage companies are willing to innovate and take risks so that they can continue to lead on important issues that impact our nation.

“I am also grateful for my work with my peers within the association community,” she continued. “Together, we are continuing to ensure associations are a recognized and appreciated component of our communities and nation.”

Neely was chosen for the honor by a panel of independent experts after being nominated. The CEO Update Association Leadership Awards program was designed as a best practice spotlight on CEOs and lobbyists in the association space, it says. She will be honored at a luncheon that will take place Sept. 21 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C., it adds.

Since 2005, Neely has served as ABA president and CEO. The association is the leading policy and public education advocate for the non-alcohol beverage industry, which employs more than 240,000 people across the country with a direct economic impact of $169 billion, according to CEO Update. During her tenure, Neely has worked with ABA membership to further industry’s longstanding commitment to being part of the solution to public health challenges.

Notably, the industry has voluntarily reduced beverage calories shipped to schools by 90 percent through its national School Beverage Guidelines. In 2010, the industry announced its Clear on Calories initiative, voluntarily placing clear calorie labels on the front of every bottle, can and pack they produce. The ABA and its member companies also were part of the launch of “Drink Up!,” the initiative of the Partnership for a Healthier America, to encourage more Americans to drink water, it says.

Most recently, in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the industry announced its boldest initiative yet, a nationwide initiative to reduce calories and sugar consumed from beverages in Americans’ diets. America’s leading beverage companies are going to places where the need is the greatest and working to make a difference in those communities, it adds.

Neely’s professional background encompasses government service in the White House, a cabinet department, Congress and a governor’s office. She also has served in executive positions in the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Health Insurance Association of America, and was elected the first woman president of both the Washington Rotary Club and the University Club of Washington, D.C.

Neely currently serves as chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Association Committee of 100 and is a former chair of the American Society of Association Executives. Neely also serves as a director on the boards of the Global Child Nutrition Foundation, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and the American Council for Capital Formation.

She has been recognized as the “most powerful woman in food” by the Daily Mail; named one of most powerful women in Washington by the Washingtonian and as one of the 25 “Women Who Mean Business” by the Washington Business Journal, it says. She was the TRENDS 2014 Association Executive of the Year and also received the 2011 Global Citizen of the Year Award from the Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University.

A native of Iowa, Neely holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and French civilization from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in public administration from Drake University, it adds. Neely is the mother of two children, Eve and Ben.