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Ford Motor Co. on Monday named John Mellen, longtime manager of the Dearborn automaker's global litigation practice, its general counsel as Bradley Gayton leaves for the Coca-Cola Co.

Mellen, Ford's associate general counsel and 39-year veteran of the Blue Oval, has provided counsel in areas including safety and environmental regulatory compliance, labor and employment, occupational health and safety, and insurance. His appointment will take effect on Aug. 1.

“John Mellen has been invaluable in advancing and protecting Ford as associate general counsel,” Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in a statement. “His wisdom and relationships will help sustain our ambition to build trust and generate superior value for customers and other stakeholders.”

Gayton, who has been with Ford for 29 years, has accepted a position as senior vice president and general counsel at Atlanta-based Coca-Cola. His last day will be Aug. 31 years to provide a smooth transition.

Gayton and his team bolstered Ford's tradition of providing pro bono legal services to underserved neighbors in Southeast Michigan and elsewhere. They also established a program to introduce minority high school students to careers in law.

“Ford is deeply part of me, and it’s been an honor to make a difference at such an iconic and important global company,” Gayton said in a statement. “There’s a lot to be proud of, particularly the programs we’ve established that could enhance diversity for generations to come."

Gayton's responsibilities on sustainability and environment, corporate services, security, real estate and other areas will be subject to a future announcement, according to the company.

Ford also named Jonathan Jennings, head of the Lincoln luxury brand's enterprise product line management, its vice president of global commodity purchasing and supplier technical assistance. The board of directors also appointed him as a corporate officer. He will oversee production procurement and quality and launch performance. He succeeds Lisa Drake so she can focus on her role as chief operating officer for Ford’s North America automotive business.

“Jonathan has broad global experience in key purchasing and product development leadership roles,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product development and purchasing officer, said in a statement. “He will partner with our suppliers to bring Ford customers outstanding innovation, quality and value.”

bnoble@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble

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