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New York, NY — President and Chief Executive Officer, Dennis B. Sprung, announced today a number of executive promotions, as well as the hiring of a new manager in the Public Relations department. In his statement Sprung said, ” I am proud of these employees for their outstanding performance and for the fact that each individual is involved in the sport.”

Ronald N. Rella has been promoted to Director of Project Administration. He will continue to oversee the ACE Awards, Breeder of The Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards and the production of the Annual Report. He will also head-up the Community Achievement Awards and assume full responsibility for the new Breeders department. Rella will continue to serve on the Judges Approval, GAZETTE Editorial and AKC National Championship Show Staff committees. Rella has spent over 45 years in the sport of purebred dogs as an exhibitor, breeder of Poodles and multi-group judge. He has been with the AKC for over 11 years and has held many executive level positions.

Gina DiNardo Lash, who has spent her entire life in the sport, has been promoted to Assistant Executive Secretary. She will assist the Executive Secretary with all communications to and from that office and with the maintenance of all AKC policies and historical records. She will continue to be responsible for “AKC Meet The Breeds” at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship and to serve on the AKC National Championship Show Staff Committee. Lash joined the AKC in 1995 and has worked in the Show Events, Planning and Development, Publications and Communications departments.

Lisa Peterson, newly hired as Manager of Club Communications, will replace Gina Lash in the Communications department beginning on November 1. Both a fancier and a communications professional, Peterson is a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, and has enjoyed a 20-year career as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer. She has held staff positions at The New Haven Register, The Newtown Bee and The Hour covering local government and law enforcement, as well as writing pet-related features and advice columns for numerous other publications. Peterson has held a variety of positions with AKC-member clubs including All-Breed Club Secretary, Public Education Coordinator and, until her appointment at the AKC, Delegate to the Norwegian Elkhound Club of America.

Gail Miller has taken over new responsibilities in AKC's Marketing Department as Director of Brand Development. Miller will direct all advertising creative development and media planning initiatives on behalf of AKC as well as oversee licensing and sponsorship activities. Gail's involvement in the sport began with Bearded Collies as a junior handler. Over the past 25 years she has participated in Conformation, Obedience and Herding events. Both Miller and Lash will continue to serve as AKC Spokespersons.

Daphna Straus assumes the new role of Director of Project Development. Her responsibilities will include researching and planning major strategic initiatives, reporting to the CEO. She will continue to oversee the AKC Affinity credit card program as well as the DOGNY project. Straus came to AKC three years ago as Project Manager for DOGNY, AKC’s successful public art and fundraising project that has generated $3 million in support of U.S. canine search and rescue organizations. Daphna is active in AKC Conformation, Obedience and Herding events with her Pembroke Welsh Corgi.