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Jill Schroeder has 1,318 people in her e-mail address book. It's not that the outgoing and engaging 32-year-old is wildly popular, although she seems to know everyone in the agency creative ranks in New York. It's just that she's on a mission.

As the chairman and ringleader of "The Lodge," Ms. Schroeder has made the cultivation of New York's agency creative community her avocation. Her day gig is at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, where she helps administer the workings of "The Syndicate," O&M's new network of affiliated boutique agencies (AA, Feb. 22). She also serves as a liaison between the agency's North American offices.

She's not alone in this quest. Lauren Slaff, 32, a former headhunter and associate creative director at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, formed Adhouse last year with Lowe & Partners/SMS Vice Chairman-Executive Creative Director Gary Goldsmith. With its roster of stellar boutique-agency creative directors as faculty members, Adhouse is New York's newest, smallest and arguably hippest ad school.

Together, these two women are spearheading grassroots efforts to promote professional development, networking and support for New York agency creatives. That's a challenging task, given the effect of the steady dismantling of most large agencies' training and mentoring systems and the diversity of size and type of the shops found in the city.


Ms. Schroeder describes the Lodge as "a cult," a gathering place for passionate young creative people to meet regularly, socialize and listen to top creatives talk about their work.

"It's like AA for people in advertising, but with beer," she said. With no dues or fees and a laid-back attitude, the Lodge "totally lacks pretension."

The group was formed two years ago and now holds monthly meetings and regular after-work get-togethers.

Adhouse currently numbers about 100 students who meet for evening classes in borrowed space at agencies, rehearsal halls and the like, Ms. Slaff said. The school is aimed at doing more than just helping people improve their portfolios.

"This is for people who need to revamp themselves, not just get their book in shape," she noted. "A lot of our students have between five and 10 years' experience in the business."

Mr. Goldsmith has regularly taught seminars at the Art Center in Pasadena, the University of Texas in Austin, and Atlanta's Portfolio Center and Creative Circus-all with highly regarded ad programs. He helped start Adhouse because he felt New York should have a school of similar stature. His involvement not only gave it instant credibility, it also helped attract top creatives as teachers and guest speakers.

"I hope it will become one more dimension to New York becoming that place where

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