Lee Steps Down as IAA Executive Director

Longtime Leader Leaves to Focus on 'Emerging Interests'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Michael Lee is stepping down as executive director of the International Advertising Association, according to a statement released this morning. This will mark the end of nearly a decade of his leadership roles within the IAA, where he held the positions of chairman, world president and senior VP. Mr. Lee will stay on until his contract expires in March 2011.

Michael Lee
Michael Lee
According the IAA statement, Mr. Lee's decision to not renew reflects his desire to focus on his own media and communications firm, Lee & Steel, as well as other "emerging interests." He said though his leadership with IAA is at an end, his affiliation isn't.

"It's quite likely I will continue involvement in some capacity with various IAA events and projects," he said in an e-mail to Ad Age. "I had never intended to become a permanent fixture at the IAA but feel very proud of the many accomplishments we've been able to achieve."

No successor has yet been named.

Mr. Lee kicked off his career in publishing and media sales in 1976 at with The Economist in London, and moved to New York in 1983 with the International Herald Tribune. He created Lee & Steel, which specializes in international media sales and consultancy, in June 1990.

During his IAA leadership Mr. Lee helped establish a new brand identity for the organization, and worked to expand its conference and event offerings. He also cites as a key achievement his efforts to coordinate the IAA membership behind "Hopenhagen," a 2009 global public service initiative to raise awareness about global climate change in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

IAA World Chairman and President Alan Rutherford said Mr. Lee served as a "driving force" at the organization and leaves it in better shape after his service. "We are deeply sorry to see Michael leave and are grateful for his decade of service," Mr. Rutherford said.

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