Following a seven-month evaluation process, the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association has named Economist and Attorney Jaime García as the trade group’s new executive director, effective Feb 1. He succeeds William Riefkohl, who announced in the summer he would be stepping down from the post after 15 years.
The PRMA appointed a special committee to evaluate several candidates to assume the position that deals with handling lobbying strategies for the industry and providing continuity to the organization’s changing leadership, said PRMA President Waleska Rivera.
“The work of many years of our dear friend Billy Riefkohl has been instrumental in the leadership and strength of the organization and he is certainly a valuable person who can not be easily replaced,” said Rivera. “Fortunately, during those months he continued to collaborate with the PRMA, under contract, and now that the ideal successor has been identified, we will continue counting on his support in various committees,” said Rivera.
Riefkohl, meanwhile, said that having steered the PRMA’s course for so many years “was a school of life” and a perfect complement to his years of public service and the University of Puerto Rico.
“It is not just having been part of history but having been an active participant in it, for which I thank God and my family,” said the also former executive director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company.
Now, the veteran executive will be the U.S. PhRMA Association’s representative in Puerto Rico.
García has experience, support
The PRMA’s new executive director has a significant curriculum vitae that starts with degrees in economy and law from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus and the Inter American University, respectively. Since 2001, he has worked as executive director of the Puerto Rico Mayors Association and has also served as director of economic development for the town of Carolina.
Prior to that, he was operations supervisor at Banco Popular and director of administration of the Municipal Revenue Collections Center (known as CRIM for its initials in Spanish). His resume also includes holding the post of deputy secretary of administration at the Consumer Affairs Department and acting as board member of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority’s, or PRASA.
His new appointment garnered praise from a trio of former PRMA presidents, Edgardo Fábregas, Pedro Watlington and Lucy Crespo, who described García as capable and prepared.
“He is highly ethical and upstanding, has a broad perspective of the issues and always seeks consensus, taking into account the opinions of others before making decisions,” said Fábregas, who currently chairs PRASA’s board.
Meanwhile, Watlington, who had a hand in García’s selection for the post, said “he is active, prepared and used to working as a team keeping Puerto Rico’s best interests in the forefront.”
Finally, Crespo, who also took part in the selection process, said García is “someone who weaves ethics, morality and professionalism together, so we are confident he will do an excellent job for the organization.”