After leading the MPA for 13 years, the organization’s CEO and president Nina Link announced today that she would step down at the end of the year.
Michael Clinton, chairman of the MPA’s board of directors and marketing and publishing president at Hearst Magazines, said the MPA was working with executive recruiting firm Blinkhorn L.L.C to replace Link.
Some board members were caught off guard by the news, having learned it in an email from Clinton saying Link had informed the MPA's executive committee of her decision this morning.
“I feel like there’s a real roadmap going forward and a great staff in place, so it’s a comfortable time [to step down],” Link told Adweek. Before becoming president of the MPA, Link ran her own consulting and product development firm, The Link Group, Inc. She also acted as group president, publishing and interactive, for Sesame Workshop. She declined to say what her next step would be.
At the MPA, Link led initiatives to address copyright and privacy issues in Washington; revamp audience metrics; and establish uniform guidelines for measuring tablet engagement. She also oversaw the MPA’s name change from Magazine Publishers of America to MPA – the Association of Magazine Media to recognize the industry’s shift from print to multiple platforms.
Like other trade organizations, the MPA has faced questions about its relevancy. Some members and ad buyers complained that the name change was little more than symbolic and agitated for more aggressive change. Separately, Link was the subject of some controversy when her salary was published ($740,713 in 2006), along with those of other trade association heads. While the big publishing companies have remained the mainstay of the organization, smaller but prominent publishers like Wenner Media, American Media Inc. and New York Media, have come in and out over the years.
Her departure from the industry's main lobbying organization has begun spurring discussion about the qualities the next CEO should have. One board member, New York publisher Larry Burstein, said, "The dynamic change in consumer rituals across all media, have had particular impact on magazines. The new president and CEO of MPA will need to address these changes in consumer behavior in order to lead innovation in the magazine industry, while communicating the value of the medium to advertisers."