(UPDATED COVERAGE, Oct. 24) NEW ORLEANS — The Vidalia onion industry has promoted one of its own to head marketing and promotions.

Vidalia Onion Committee executive assistant Susan Waters is the committee’s new executive director.

Waters succeeds Wendy Brannen, who Waters worked with since 2009.

In April, Brannen became director of consumer health and public relations for the U.S. Apple Association, McLean, Va.

Before joining the Vidalia, Ga.-based organization, Waters was a secretary for 16 years at the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and worked a decade as a secretary for Farm Credit Services.

UPDATED: Vidalia committee taps new leader“My years of working side-by-side with the former director have prepared me to take on this new role,” Waters said Oct. 22. “Working with the farmers all those years, it’s like coming back home. It has been a blessing to have been in the position I’ve been in. I’m looking forward to continue working with the growers, packers and Vidalia onion industry to make sure we have another successful season.”

Waters said she’s working on a new promotion for the 2014 season and the organization is finalizing a budget.

“We are focusing on getting back to our roots where Vidalias are from and what made us famous in the beginning,” Waters said. “We want to educate our demographics more about how Vidalias are grown only in Georgia.”

Committee chairman Kevin Hendrix, vice president of Hendrix Produce Inc., Metter, Ga., said Waters did well filling-in for Brannen as interim committee manager.

“She’s very conscientious of everything she does, and we just thought she would do a good job,” Hendrix said. “I think she’ll find her own way and kind of forge her own path, and continue the job she has been doing. The committee will run similar as in the past, but we may see a few small changes.”

UPDATED: Vidalia committee taps new leaderAries Haygood, the Lyons, Ga.-based operations manager for M & T Farms, said Waters has worked for growers for a number of years.

“She’s experienced at what she does and has been doing,” Haygood said. “She helped Wendy a lot in the office and making things happen and helped put things together. We as an industry felt like she was the best fit to lead the committee and guide us onto the new things we may need.”

The federal government shutdown delayed the final step in naming Waters. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, administers the Vidalia marketing order.

“Susan has worked hard for the VOC and will continue to do so in this new role,” Brannen said. “I appreciated her help through the years and am glad to see her take on more responsibility in promoting those delicious sweet Vidalia onions.”