2013 Silver Apple Honoree Biographies

Golden Apple Honoree

Arthur Blumenfield

Arthur Blumenfield was part of the group that installed the first data processing center at Exxon Corporation in 1956 (then known as Standard Oil Co. of NJ) and, since then, has been using computers to solve business problems, including those for marketing. In 1976 he started the business division of MAGI and, while there, created a mathematical equivalent technique for identifying and removing duplicate names from mailing lists. While at MAGI, he came up with the idea for producing personalized children’s books (ME-BOOKS) and sold the patent rights to a major marketing corporation.

During this time Blumenfield volunteered to work on various activities in the direct marketing field, and, as a result, participated as a speaker at various conferences in the U.S., Europe and Australia. He wrote both the “Standards for Computerized Mailing Lists” for the Direct Marketing Association and chapters on computerization in several direct marketing books. He also engineered the creation of the DMA’s Mail Preference Service (now DMAchoice).

In 1962 Blumenfield joined Lee Epstein and Henry R. “Pete” Hoke, Jr., as the group that put on Direct Marketing Days in New York, a leading industry conference of its day, and served on the board of directors of that organization until 2001 when it used its $2.5 million investment portfolio to set up the Lee Epstein Fund and transferred conference operations to the DMA. 

Blumenfield started BMI Fulfillment Services in 1976. During the 37 years of that company’s life, he developed and donated the first computerized conference registration system, budgeting system and accounting systems to the DMA. He also is an active member of the Direct Marketing Club of New York, where he has served as treasurer for the past 10 years.

Silver Apple Honorees

Liberta Abbondante

Liberta Abbondante is senior vice president, consumer marketing, of Hearst Magazines, a unit of Hearst Corporation, one of the nation’s largest diversified media and information companies.  With 20 titles in the U.S., Hearst is the leading publisher of monthly magazines in terms of total paid circulation (Alliance for Audited Media, 2012) and reaches 82 million adults (Gfk MRI, Spring 2013).

Abbondante joined Hearst Magazines in February 2008.  In this position, she is responsible for managing the consumer marketing, retail sales, digital marketing for print and tablet editions and distribution activities of all Hearst Magazines, including such publications as Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Food Network Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, HGTV, O – The Oprah Magazine, House Beautiful and Seventeen.  She has brought strong leadership to the consumer marketing team and provides ongoing direction and professional guidance.  Under her leadership, Consumer Marketing has developed innovative subscription offerings, provided database and CRM services for advertisers, implemented a proprietary retail distribution optimization program and launched the development of a direct-to-consumer channel supporting book and subscription sales of digital edition products. 

Prior to Hearst, she held consumer marketing and circulation executive positions at Dow Jones & Company, Forbes Inc., EMAP-Petersen, Smithsonian, as well as management posts at Elsevier, Reader’s Digest, and Lang Communications – after launching her career at MacFadden Publishing.

Abbondante sits on the Board of Directors at the Alliance for Audited Media and serves on various industry working groups, including AAM’s Magazine Directors Advisory Committee, AAM’s Digital Vision Task Force, Association of Magazine Media’s (MPA) Consumer Marketing Committee and the MPA’s Tablet Metric Task Force.  Abbondante has been recognized for her leadership and marketing abilities by the Direct Marketing Association with its Hall of Fame award in 2007, naming her as one of an elite group of consumer marketing professionals.  She was also awarded the Lee C. Williams Award in 2012 in recognition of her service to the publishing industry by the Fulfillment Managers Association. Abbondante holds a bachelor’s of science degree in biology from The City University of New York.  

Pete Carney

Peter J. Carney, best known as "Pete," began working in the list business in 1979. Having more than 34 years in the business, he has worked for some of the largest and most successful direct marketing firms among them Mal Dunn, Mail Marketing and Equifax. After leaving Equifax as national sales manager, he opened his own list business in Irvine, CA, doing business as Carney Direct Marketing. Carney Direct Marketing is now one of the leading direct marketing companies on the West Coast and offers a full array of services − list management, list brokerage, database marketing, and database management. Carney is commonly associated with the marketing of children's databases and pioneered many of the largest and most well-known children's databases now available.

Carney Direct Marketing is an active member of the Direct Marketing Association and participated in its List Leaders group. Carney is especially vocal on privacy issues and continually strives for more industry awareness of this ever-popular political hot button. He often serves as a DMA spokesperson to provide testimony to state legislators and committee in California in an effort to promote the industry and provide a better understanding of its ethical standards and best practices.

Richard Hochhauser

Richard Hochhauser was president & chief executive officer of Harte-Hanks, Inc. (NYSE) − a leading international direct and interactive marketing services company, and is an educator in the direct and database marketing field.  Hochhauser joined Harte-Hanks in an entrepreneurial capacity in 1975 and retired in 2008 at which time the company had more than 6000 employees and a nearly $2 billion market capitalization. He served on the Board of Harte-Hanks and other private and public companies including John Wiley & Sons, Modem Media and Site Specific.

Prior to joining Harte-Hanks, Hochhauser was a vice president of Cambridge Marketing Group and Cambridge Opinion Studies – market and public opinion research companies. 

He served as chair of the Direct Marketing Association, chair of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (now Marketing EDGE) and was on the Board of Directors for the Texas A&M Center for Retailing Studies. He has written 10 articles which have been published in trade journals, handbooks and business magazines.

Hochhauser currently is on the Board of Rentrak. He is an adjunct professor at Baruch and New York University, teaching leadership and management in both nonprofit and for-profit areas to master’s degree students. He is active with nonprofit work and serves on the Boards of DayOne (past chair) a nonprofit dealing with teenage dating abuse and The Possibility Project (vice chair) a nonprofit that empowers teenagers to create safe, peaceful and productive lives and communities. He also served as a trustee of the Jewish Museum and a director of Reach the World. Richard Hochhauser was graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and received a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia University.

Deborah Holland

As executive vice president of Publishers Clearing House (PCH), Deborah Holland is responsible for direction, execution and coordination of creative, contest and consumer affairs across all channels. Her career has spanned more than 30 years in virtually every aspect of direct marketing and she is often featured as a company spokesperson.  

Holland has contributed to the advancement of the direct/interactive marketing field through service on the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (now Marketing EDGE) Rising Star Awards Fundraising Committee, as a current board member of Word Of Mouth Marketing Association, and as a past chair and member of the Direct Marketing Association's Committee on Ethical Business Practices.  She also has been inducted into the Direct Marketing Association of Long Island Hall of Fame and has received recognition awards on behalf of PCH from the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation and the Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington.

Starting in 1979 as a marketing analyst for PCH and demonstrating consistent talent for creative innovation, analysis and organizational skills, Holland quickly rose through management ranks, becoming the youngest ever to be appointed vice president and the first woman.  With accomplishments spanning marketing, testing, promotion development, customer service, merchandising, creative and online communications, she was instrumental in the company's growth and evolution from a single channel, single product line mass direct marketer to a multichannel database marketer of value-based consumer products and a leading provider of digital play-and-win entertainment.

During her tenure at PCH, she is credited with development of a sophisticated promotion development and testing program garnering unprecedented success rates; implementation of personalized dynamic messaging generating double-digit lifts; expansion of sweepstakes winner selection methodologies to support exceptional promotional variety; leadership of the company's first large-scale outsourced customer service operation; initiation of the first customer service feedback program highlighting customer issues directly to top management; creation of a steady flow of winning test packages, components and emails; elevation of PCH product promotions to record levels; and, most recently, the startup of PCH's social media program.

Holland is a board member of the Lucerna Fund (which produces recordings for the blind), the Port Washington Teacher Center Policy Board and formerly served on the Port Washington Library Foundation Board.  A graduate of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program, Holland also has a master’s degree in business administration and marketing from Adelphi University and a bachelor of arts degree in English and French from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania.  

Gary Laben

It takes imagination and insight to help clients turn knowledge into customer-focused marketing solutions — two qualities for which Gary S. Laben is known. 

In addition to his role as chief executive officer of KBM Group, the data services arm of Wunderman, in 2013, Laben was named president of the newly formed Wunderman Data & Insights division.  He also is a member of the Wunderman Executive Board.  As CEO of KBM Group, Laben continues to lead the company through the successful integration of acquisitions as well as to direct its global expansion.  During his tenure, he has transformed the company from a marketing services provider to a strategic customer engagement partner for leading global brands as he continues to expand the company’s footprint and services through organic growth and acquisition. As president of Wunderman Data & Insights, Laben oversees the full spectrum of Wunderman’s ability to ensure the most appropriate universe of data for clients to integrate and manage that data; and to derive insights through data processing and analytics.  The move brings him even closer to his vision of enabling clients to turn customer data into a strategic asset and benefit from more robust “big data” solutions on a global scale.

Laben is a 25-plus-year veteran of the information marketing industry. Prior to joining KBM Group (formerly KnowledgeBase Marketing) in 2000, he served as vice president of marketing and business development at Experian where he was actively involved in growing the company through acquisitions and marketing endeavors.

In 2012, Laben received the Edward N. Mayer, Jr. Education Leadership Award from the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (now Marketing EDGE). In 2009, he was named Direct Marketer of the Year by the Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing. Laben is actively involved in the direct marketing community serving on Marketing EDGE chairman’s advisory council, and as executive advisory board chair of the Taylor Institute.  He also sits on the board of several companies in the marketing field. He is former chair of the DMEF, and also served on the Direct Marketing Association’s Board of Directors and Ethics Policy Committee.  Laben is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. 

Richard Vergara

Richard Vergara joined MeritDirect in 2013 when Merit acquired LDSGroup, which he co-owned with Jeff Kobil.  LDSGroup was founded in December 2002.  Prior to forming LDS, Vergara was director of the Publishing Group at MKTG Services, which he joined in 1999 when that firm acquired his previous employer, Stevens-Knox & Associates. He started his direct marketing career at The Kleid Company, working for his aunt, Rose Harper, who was the first female chair of the Direct Marketing Association, a Silver Apple winner herself, and a member of the DMA Hall of Fame.  

Vergara has served as president of the Hudson Valley Direct Marketing Association since 2012. He’s a past chair of the DMA’s List & Database Council, a past chair of DMA List Day, and served on the List & Database Council’s Operating Committee for more than 10 years.  He has organized and taught courses for both New York University and the Direct Marketing Club of New York, and has written and spoken frequently on industry matters.

Vergara’s clients include some of the largest companies in the publishing industry, and he has maintained relationships with firms such as Time Inc., Playboy, American Media, and Bonnier for virtually his entire career.  

Corporate Honoree

Target Marketing Group

When professionals need information on direct marketing, they turn regularly to The Target Marketing Group (TMG), a division of North American Publishing Company.

For 36 years, Target Marketing magazine – the flagship of the Target Marketing Group – has helped direct marketing professionals navigate the ever-changing world of omnichannel marketing to help marketers market smarter. Retail Online Integration was added to the group in 1999, FundRaising Success in 2003, eMarketing + Commerce in 2007, Direct Marketing IQ in 2011, and the re-launch of Who’s Mailing What! in 2013.  

In addition to print publications, the Target Marketing Group provides its signature content of case studies and best practices through webinars, virtual conferences, and face-to-face events, as well as daily e-newsletters, blogs, video and other online content.  No matter the channel, TMG offers the strategies and solutions for direct marketing success for marketers around the world.