American Express Co. named a veteran executive, Peggy H. Haney, to its top consumer affairs position.
As vice president of consumer affairs, Ms. Haney, 50, succeeds Patricia Failey, who left American Express in July to join the Direct Marketing Association in a similar position.
Both began their American Express careers with the highly regarded office of public responsibility, which was eliminated in a restructuring move last December. The office focused on consumer education initiatives, worked closely with consumer advocates, and was endowed with a generous budget to fund special events and conferences.
Ms. Failey joined American Express as vice president of public responsibility one year prior to the office's demise. She was the only one of 10 people in that office to be retained.
Ms. Failey resigned after just six months in the newly created consumer affairs position, which was based out of American Express' government relations office in Washington, D.C.
Some observers said that transferring the responsibilities of a staffed office to one person was difficult, particularly since Ms. Failey was fairly new to American Express, and the success of her job depended on strong relationships with the top executives of the company's various business units.
Ms. Haney, on the other hand, has been with American Express since 1981. She knows many of the senior managers from her work as the company's vice president of quality, a job she has held since 1992, and will retain until she moves to Washington on Oct. 2.
As vice president of quality, Ms. Haney said, she worked with "people throughout the company, helping to realign how we look at products from the consumer's perspective."
Ms. Haney joined American Express as part of the original team of executives of the office of public responsibility, which was headed by Meredith Layer - a casualty of the shutdown. Ms. Haney formed the privacy task force, which created American Express' privacy principles, the first in the industry.
In 1991, she was elected president of the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals, an international professional association.
Ms. Haney sees her role in Washington as a consultant on consumer issues to the rest of the company.
Addressing the concerns of consumer advocates, who feared that when the office of public responsibility shut down, American Express would stop funding projects and be less of an ally, Ms. Haney said, "we will continue to work in partnership with these organizations, but there will be less sponsorship of major conferences."
Ruth Susswein, executive director of Bankcard Holders of America, and Stephen Brobeck, executive director of Consumer Federation of America, say that they have not noticed a change in American Express' support for their concerns.
"There is no doubt that shutting down the office signified lessened commitment to consumer affairs generally," said Mr. Brobeck. "Nevertheless the silver lining is that American Express has kept good people in charge of consumer affairs."