Merck picks former J&J exec as chief communications, public affairs officer

Merck has created the role of chief communications & public affairs officer, and named a former Johnson & Johnson executive to the position, it announced this week.

Cristal N. Downing will be a member of the executive team, leading the development, advancement and execution of the company’s communications and public affairs strategy, the Kenilworth-based drugmaker said in a news release.

“Cristal is a transformational leader with a well-established track record of achievement,” CEO and President Rob Davis said in a prepared statement. “Cristal’s experience, business acumen, leadership capabilities and integrity will be invaluable as we drive productive conversations and strategic impact with a broad range of stakeholders, double down on our promising pipeline and work to accelerate delivery of our vital innovations to the world.”

Most recently, Downing was vice president, communications & public affairs, medical devices, for Johnson & Johnson. In her career, she has more than 20 years of leadership expertise working for organizations including American Express, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

“I am honored to become Merck’s chief communications & public affairs officer, and I look forward to collaborating with Rob and all our colleagues to foster relevant, impactful and equitable engagement both within the company and externally across broader environments,” she said in a statement.