The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) says Dirk Kempthorne will take over as president and CEO of the association this fall.

Kempthorne will succeed Governor Frank Keating, who has led ACLI since January 2003. Like his predecessor, Kempthorne brings a wealth of experience to the post. He represented Idaho in the Senate from 1993 to 1999 and was elected governor of the state in 1998 and 2002. In 2006, Kempthorne was named Secretary of the Interior in May 2006 and served in that post until January 2009.

The hiring of Kempthorne comes as the life insurance industry warily eyes the implementation phase of financial services reform. C. Robert Henrikson, chairman of the ACLI, and chairman, president and CEO of MetLife Inc. said Kempthorne’s background makes him well equipped to represent the organization and the industry.

“Dirk’s excellent reputation in Washington, coupled with his understanding and appreciation of state regulation of insurance, is a unique and valuable resource for the industry and regulators alike during this time of evolving regulatory relationships in the U.S. and around the world,” Henrikson said in a statement.

Kempthorne said he was honored to be an advocate for the life insurance industry.

“ACLI is well-regarded in Washington, and in the states for the ways its member companies help families protect their assets today while planning for the future,” he said. “A healthy, vibrant life insurance industry was a key partner as I led the State of Idaho through the last economic downturn—while maintaining Idaho’s highest possible bond rating. It is even more critical in today’s challenging economy for insurers to maintain open communications and promote understanding with our national and state leaders, and I’m excited to lead that effort.”

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