The Non-Fiction Producers Assn. (NPA) has named veteran television exec John Ford as general manager, it announced Wednesday.

The former Discovery Channel exec succeeds Rick Feldman, NATPE’s former CEO and president, who served as the NPA’s executive director during its launch year.

“John Ford has been instrumental in the evolution of the unscripted television business,” NPA’s board of directors said in a joint statement. “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.”

Ford said: “Having worked over the course of 30 years as both a network and creative executive, I know first-hand how critical it is to nurture and maintain independent production. 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.”

Ford was president and g.m. of the Discovery Channel from 2007 to 2009, and began his work with Discovery Networks’ portfolio, including Discovery Health Channel, TLC, Military Channel and Discovery Times Channel, in 1989. He also held the post of exec VP of programming for National Geographic Channel. Since 2011 Ford has run John Ford Media, working with WE TV, Travel Channel, RLTV and NGC. In addition to his NPA post, Ford will continue to serve as head of content at Justice Network, a digital multicast channel with nationwide distribution.

The NPA is a nonprofit trade group established in July 2014 and dedicated to maintaining, growing and nurturing the documentary and nonfiction TV production industry. NPA membership includes 34 production companies mainly in New York and Los Angeles.