J.C. Watts, a Republican who served Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District from 1995 to 2003, on Monday will become president and CEO of international relief charity Feed The Children (FTC) in Oklahoma, City, Okla.
Watts will succeed Kevin Hagan, who announced nearly a year ago that he would serve out the remainder of his contract before becoming CEO of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) on June 1.
A Baptist minister, Watts founded J.C. Watts Companies, a Washington, D.C., lobbying and consulting firm, after retiring from Congress. He graduated the University of Oklahoma, where he played quarterback, in 1981 with a degree in journalism. After college, he played in the Canadian Football League until he retired in 1986.
The 58-year-old will maintain his role as chairman of Watts Partners, and management of his other businesses. Prior to his role as Oklahoma congressman, where his peers elected him chairman of the Republican Conference, Watts was Oklahoma Corporation Commission chairman and a youth minister.
The board of directors, with help from Atlanta, Ga.-based Carter Baldwin Executive Search, “found Watts to be the best candidate with his unique background and overarching knowledge in both politics and business,” according to Feed The Children. He will broaden existing programs and develop key initiatives and partnerships.
“Our vision is to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry, and the board trusts that J.C. will help us fulfill this goal,” board chairman Rick England said in a press release. “With J.C.’s diverse skill set, solid leadership and unwavering compassion, our organization will continue moving forward in our national and international efforts,” he said.
FTC is among the biggest charities in the country. In 2014, the organization reported total revenue of $400 million, which ranked No. 41 in the NPT 100, a study by The NonProfit Times of the largest nonprofits in the nation. About $338 million in reported revenue was in the form of noncash contributions, including food inventory ($154 million), clothing and household goods ($54 million), and books and publications ($38 million), according to the most recent Form 990 available.
Hagan served as president and CEO for nearly three years, taking over after an internal family struggle at the 35-year-old charity resulted in founder Larry Jones being terminated in 2009 and changes in board composition. During Hagan’s tenure, FTC rebranded with a new logo and tagline.
FTC’s announcement did not include details on compensation or contract length and a message seeking comment was not returned by presstime. As CEO, Hagan earned about $350,000, according to the organization’s federal Form 990.