DMA Selects Government Insider to Run Catalog

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After a four-month vacancy, the Direct Marketing Association last week selected a government insider whose career spans more than 20 years on Capitol Hill as its newest advocate for catalogers' interests.

Roscoe Burton Starek III will assume the title of senior vice president, catalog industry, filling the postion held by Robert J. Levering until his resignation in February. A former Federal Trade Commissioner, Starek also worked for several congressional committees and served as a senior executive in the White House during the Bush administration.

"He has been very much aware of commerce issues as they relate to mail, telecommunications and the Internet," said DMA president and CEO H. Robert Wientzen. "He's well versed in the ways of government, and he's a rare find because of his experience in two of the branches of government -- executive and legal."

Unlike his predecessor, Starek has never worked for a direct marketing company. However, the DMA decided it would be easier to bring a seasoned government official up to speed on direct marketing than to familiarize an industry veteran with the varied procedures and protocols of the government, Wientzen said.

Starek was an FTC commissioner during the agency's conferences on online privacy over the past three years. Under President Bush, he served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of presidential personnel at the White House. In the '70s and early '80s he worked on the House Select Committee on Narcotics, the House Judiciary Committee and the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

Although Starek's experience is in government, his appointment does not reflect a shift in the job to a more legislative role. By contrast, he will be expected to form a stronger bond with members of the catalog industry.

"I see the position being more proactive in helping to deal with catalogers' concerns about the growth of their businesses," Wientzen said.

Since Levering left after 16 years at the DMA, Wientzen has said he was searching for someone to meet with and create a dialogue with catalogers. He was quick to point out that addressing their concerns and helping the DMA work on growing the catalog industry takes a new, more prominent role in the position's job description.

As for what lies ahead, Wientzen sees challenges for Starek in addressing rapidly expanding areas such as electronic commerce and international business.

"The biggest challenge will be to find ways in which the regulations on electronic commerce can be limited so they don't interfere with the development of the catalog industry and also to facilitate international development," Wientzen said.

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