The longtime president of the New Jersey Restaurant Association has died.

The Trenton-based group announced Monday that Deborah Dowdell died Friday after a long battle with cancer.

The 46-year-old Highland Park resident joined the NJRA staff in 1990 as its director of membership and later became its executive vice president. She was named NJRA's president in 2003.

Dowdell also served as vice president of the New Jersey Travel Industry Association and was secretary/treasurer of The Council of State Restaurant Associations. She also was a member of Gov. Chris Christie's transition team in 2009, serving as a member of the economic development and growth subcommittee.

Born in San Francisco, Dowdell went to high school in Somerset before going to college at Georgetown University.

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