Peggy Conlon Departs Ad Council After 15 Years

Non-Profit Conducts Search for New President-CEO

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Peggy Conlon
Peggy Conlon

One of adland's greatest fixtures, Peggy Conlon, is retiring from the president-CEO post at Ad Council.

According to a press release, the officers of the board, along with Ms. Conlon's support, "have initiated a process to identify a successor and ensure a smooth transition by early 2015." Ms. Conlon, who has been with Ad Council for 15 years, has overseen a number of initiatives at the nation's largest producer of public-service communications.The search for her replacement -- a plum industry job-- is underway via executive search firm Spencer Stuart.

During Ms. Conlon's tenure, the Ad Council began addressing bullying prevention, texting and driving and child hunger. She also worked closely with three presidents (George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) on emergency preparedness, high-school dropout prevention and raising awareness about the Affordable Care Act respectively. Ms. Conlon also helped develop childhood obesity campaigns as part of the First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative.

"Peggy took over the Ad Council at a critical point in history," said Debra Lee, Chair of the Ad Council's board of directors and chairman-CEO of BET Networks, in a statement. "She quickly organized the advertising industry's response following the Sept. 11th attacks, which changed the way the Ad Council did business, and established the organization as the 'go-to' source for messages on other crises moving forward, including Hurricane Katrina, the Indian Ocean Tsunami and the Haiti earthquake."

The industry will be paying close attention to the choice of successor, given the post's profile and salary. According to the Ad Council's tax filing, Ms. Conlon's total compensation was $2,004,218 for the year ended June 2012, the most recent figure available. That included base compensation ($575,941), bonus and incentive compensation ($127,650), other reportable compensation ($1,085,289), retirement and other deferred compensation ($197,150) and non-taxable benefits ($18,188).

The organization, perhaps the industry's most public face, received over $1.6 billion in donated media support on behalf of its 50 national public service-campaigns in 2013. During Ms. Conlon's long tenure, the Ad Council also addressed social issues on behalf of non-profit and federal government organizations such as United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, Autism Speaks and the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security.

Prior to her time at the Ad Council, Ms. Conlon was group VP at Reed Business Information until 1999, where she directed editorial, circulation and advertising for eight TV and consumer-electronic imprints including Broadcasting & Cable, TWICE (This Week in Consumer Electronics), Digital Television and several international TV titles, according to her LinkedIn profile. She landed at Reed in 1991 from CMP Media, where she was group publisher on titles like Electronic Engineering Times and Electronic Buyers News. She was previously associate publisher for CRN (Computer Retail News).

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