DMA CEO Kimmel Steps Down: Woolley Named Interim CEO

Posted on by Richard H. Levey

Lawrence M. Kimmel has stepped down as CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, effective immediately. Kimmel, who has led the trade association since August 2010, was given a three-year contract at the time of his hire.

Kimmel will take on the title of president emeritus of the DMA and will serve in a senior advisory capacity. Linda A. Woolley, the DMA's executive vice president of Washington operations, will serve as interim CEO while the organization considers its leadership options.

Kimmel will join marketing agency Hawkeye, which is run by former DMA chairman Steve Dapper. In an interview with Chief Marketer, Kimmel played coy about his title at Hawkeye, saying only that his role would build on the themes of data, customer-centricity and accountability he advocated while he led the DMA.

"My love and passion is the agency business," Kimmel says. "I have a chance to serve the DMA and get back to a bit of my passion in the agency business."

Kimmel's departure from the CEO position marks the second consecutive instance of a full-time DMA head leaving before his contract was up. Former president/CEO John A. Greco left the organization in January 2010, with nearly six months left on his contract. An interim CEO, Robert W. Allen, served out the remainder of Greco's term.

Asked about leaving in the middle of his contract, Kimmel says the role of the position has changed. When he joined, the DMA had needed someone to strengthen its core economic components and make the marketing community enthusiastic about what it does. Now, he says, the organization is in "the next phase of operations." He will, he says, continue to be an advocate and evangelist for the organization in his emeritus role.

"What you have in Linda [Woolley] and many of the other team are some wonderfully talented people," Kimmel says. "Ask anybody about how DMA has operated successfully from a privacy, postal reform and marketing taxation perspective, and they have to acknowledge what we have done under Linda's leadership."

Kimmel isn't the only one lauding Woolley. "As the head of advocacy efforts, [Woolley] has an exceptional understanding of the direct marketing industry, strong relationships with both policy makers and marketing leaders, and an excellent track record guiding organizations like the DMA," said current DMA chair Matt Blumberg in a statement.

"As an existing and active leader in the DMA, her appointment makes for a seamless transition that will provide continuity and consistency as the organization determines the long-term needs for the association, and its mission," Blumberg continued.

During his tenure, Kimmel sought to broaden the DMA's focus to include more representation from the general advertising community, with a focus on involving more agencies. The organization also returned to operating profitability. Kimmel also oversaw the DMA's opening up of a considerable amount of the organization's library of conference presentations and training modules to members as part of their base membership fees, and presided over the launch of the Silicon Valley-based Center for Accountable Marketing.

But also under his term in office, the DMA created the All for One Integrated Marketing Summit, which was held in place of the long running Direct Marketing Days New York event in 2011. Neither conference is being held this year.

Additionally, the 2012 Forum for Cross-Channel Merchants, which was born out of the National Conference on Operations and Fulfillment and the Annual Conference for Catalog & Multichannel Merchants, was cancelled as well.

According to Kimmel, the cancelled conferences are part of an effort led by David Evans, the DMA's senior vice president of content and experience. "He is refashioning the experiential components of what DMA does. Those events are being reinvented and refashioned to serve the community. There are many new events coming."

According to the latest financial information available on the DMA's site, the organization pulled in $26.5 million during the fiscal year ended June 30, 2011, compared with $25.2 million in the previous year. The organization reduced its total expenses from $26.3 million to $24.7 million during the same period.

Much of the growth for the year ended June 30, 2011 came from conferences and events and education services. Conferences and events revenue increased from just under $8.8 million to $9.5 million, while education services revenue increased from $1.2 million to $1.6 million. Government affairs-related revenue increased from $43,235 to $112,543.

But membership-related revenue slipped from $12.2 million to $11.9 million during the same period, while research and strategic information revenue fell from $337,795 to $216,386. The DMA reported 2,583 corporate members at the end of June 30, 2011, compared with 2,594 members at the end of June 30, 2010. The DMA does not break out its membership rolls by size or the amount of dues paid.

Mail Moves America, a coalition of interests organized to combat do not mail legislation, pulled in $256,667 in the year ended June 30, 2010. That amount fell to $141,897 in the most recent year available.

Revenue for the most recent year also includes $316,350 for a "Colorado Litigation Fund", which finances the DMA's efforts in opposing Colorado legislation that requires out-of-state retailers to turn over certain purchasing history information to the state's Department of Revenue. This revenue stream that did not have an analog in the previous fiscal year.

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