Elizabeth (Beth) Johnson has joined the National Restaurant Association as executive vice president for public affairs. She most recently served as acting undersecretary for food safety at the USDA.

Johnson assumes a key leadership role for an association representing the nation's second largest private sector employer, an industry with more than 13.1 million jobs, nearly one million restaurant and foodservice locations, and generating annual sales of more than $558 billion. In her new position, Johnson will oversee government affairs, public policy and communications for the 89-year-old organization.

In addition to her service as acting undersecretary for food safety, Johnson, a registered dietitian, was deputy chief of staff and senior advisor at the USDA. She joined the department in 2002 after nearly four years at Fleishman-Hillard Inc., where she was a vice president with clients in the food and agriculture arena. Her previous experiences include positions as a senior professional staff member at the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; a nutritionist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and a research dietitian at USDA. Johnson also worked at the National Cattlemen’s Association as associate director for food policy.

Johnson holds a BS in Dietetics from Ball State University and an MS in Nutrition from the University of Maryland.