The board of directors of Columbia-based W. R. Grace & Co. announced that it elected Hudson La Force as president and CEO, with Chairman and CEO Fred Festa moving to the role of non-executive chairman.

“After 15 years, Fred Festa hands off an industry-leading specialty chemicals company with strong market positions, a focused portfolio and clear growth opportunities. On behalf of our entire board, we thank Fred for his exceptional leadership,” said Christopher Steffen, lead independent director. “We congratulate Hudson on his new role, and have absolute confidence in his strategic vision, proven leadership and focus on value creation.”

La Force joined Grace in 2008 as senior vice president and chief financial officer and became president and chief operating officer in February 2016. He was elected to the Grace board in November 2017.