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2011 April 25

Mary Berner Out at Reader's Digest Association

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Mary Berner at Fairchild in 2004 Mary Berner at Fairchild in 2004
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(NEW YORK) Media Monday! Today, RDA Holding Co. has named Tom Williams as president and CEO of Reader's Digest Association. He previously served as CFO of RDA, and he replaces Mary Berner, who is leaving the company. "With the board transition last week, this was a natural point to move on," said Berner in a statement. The new board, whose chairman is now Randall Curran, CEO of telecom company DELTACOM, Inc., initially stated that Berner would retain her seat on the board. "I am extremely grateful to all of the employees at RDA for their hard work during my tenure at the company. I am also very proud of the management team and that together we put the company on a path to profitable growth."

The former publisher of Glamour before becoming the oft-discussed leader of Fairchild Publications, Berner left Condé Nast in 2006, when the Fairchild division was fully absorbed into Condé Nast. Berner was recruited by Ripplewood Holdings executive chairman Harvey Golub to work on the acquisition of RDI, and she was formally appointed CEO after the transaction closed in 2007. RDI operates over seventy magazines, including approximately 50 country-specific versions of Reader's Digest. The 51-year-old mother of four, a native of Winnetka, IL, graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA before taking her first job selling advertising for Citizen Group Publications in Boston. 

For RDA, the last few years has been financially tumultuous: in 2009, the company sought bankruptcy protection, although it shed some debt and emerged in 2010. The recession brought a sharp decline in ad pages, as well as deep cuts to head count. But during Berner's tenure, and under the direction of former Fairchild publisher turned head of RDA's Emerging Businesses unit Alyce Alston, the company launched three magazines (Reverse Diabetes, walk it off and No Fail Weight Loss). ""My job's done," Berner told Adweek. "I successfully saw the company through a balance-sheet restructuring, the stock has doubled over the past year; we have really good strategies in place. We started to see the momentum in the fourth-quarter earnings call. [My] vision is different. So it's time for my No. 2 to step up."

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