Former Discovery Channel President John Ford has been named General Manager of the Nonfiction Producers Association, the nonprofit trade group that was launched last year to rep companies that produce documentaries and reality TV shows. Ford succeeds Rick Feldman, a former president and CEO of NATPE, who served as the NPA’s Executive Director during its 12-month launch phase.

Ford held senior executive positions at Discovery Networks from 1989 to 2003, including President of New Media, President of Content for Discovery Networks and founding President of Discovery Health Channel. He also served as EVP and General Manager of TLC, which was acquired by Discovery in 1991, and led TLC from 1991-99. He was named President and GM of the Discovery Channel in 2007 and served through the end of 2009. Since 2011, he has run John Ford Media, LLC.

“Having worked over the course of 30 years as both a network and creative executive, I know firsthand how critical it is to nurture and maintain independent production,” Ford said. “The unscripted business is unique in demanding that producers be creative and collaborative and outstanding entrepreneurs. So many of today’s hit shows hail from members of the NPA, and I applaud the entire membership for their contributions to unscripted television; these are the risk-takers who built an industry from the ground up. I’m eager to continue the work of this essential association as it grows and endeavors to keep the unscripted business thriving.”

The NPA board said in a statement: “John Ford has been instrumental in the evolution of the unscripted television business. His measured, hands-on approach helped establish several global TV networks, while his creativity and expertise as a programmer puts him in sync with the prolific producers who make up the NPA. John’s proven leadership experience combined with immense talent and perspective make him ideal to lead the Nonfiction Producers Association at this pivotal time in our industry.”