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Walker on leading during crisis

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When Peggy Walker, president-COO of Vance Publishing Corp., agreed to become part of American Business Media's executive committee a few years back, she didn't expect to be greeted by a major crisis when she eventually became chairman of the association. “Right now I kind of look at [those economically strong years] and think that it would have been great to be the chair during those times,” she said with a laugh. At the same time, Walker, who officially took office in July, is not shying away from the challenge. She is leading a reshaping of ABM with the executive committee; Bill Pollak, chairman of the strategic planning committee; and ABM President-CEO Gordon T. Hughes II and his staff. The numbers show the association is facing a difficult task. Revenue for the fiscal year ended June 30 totaled $3.4 million, down about $700,000 from the previous fiscal year. A plunge in attendance at the annual meeting in May accounted for a large share of the drop. Overall, the organization's net assets decreased from about $2.9 million at the end of fiscal 2008 to $1.5 million at the end of fiscal 2009. There was at least one bright spot. The association's other events and conferences posted an increase in revenue, rising from $617,682 in fiscal 2008 to $737,210 in fiscal 2009. Regional conferences are a key element of the ABM's new strategic plan that association leaders are championing. Walker said she brings to ABM the viewpoint of a traditional b-to-b media company that is trying to navigate the changes the economy and Internet are bringing to the publishing world. “Including Vance, my entire career has been with traditional business-to-business publishing companies that have looked for ways to grow their business in any environment,” Walker said. “I think that voice, with the challenges and opportunities that ABM currently faces, is important.” M
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