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MITX hires Communispace exec, Debi Kleiman, as new president

Posted by Scott Kirsner  October 22, 2010 04:57 PM

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kleiman.jpgThe digital media trade group MITX will announce its choice of a new president on Monday, replacing outgoing head Kiki Mills. Debi Kleiman, vice president of product marketing and sales operations at Communispace in Watertown, accepted the job this week, and MITX's board is being informed this afternoon. She'll be the third chief MITX has had since it was founded in 1996 as MIMC. (The current acronym stands for the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange; the old one stood for the Massachusetts Interactive Media Council.)

"I'm heartbroken that Kiki is leaving," said Michael Barron, the original founder of MITX and a partner at the Boston office of DLA Piper. "But Debi will be a fantastic leader of the organization. She's high-powered and full of ideas. She's knowledgable about the industry, and she seems comfortable dealing with high-level people."

Yankee Group CEO Emily Green, MITX's vice chair, led the search committee, along with David Hayes of the recruiting firm HireMinds.

Green told me that Kleiman will start early next month, overlapping with Mills for a few days. She said the board of MITX has worked over the last year to better define the organization's mission. "At various times in our past," she said, "we've had an amorphous grasp of our charter: who we are and how we are different from other trade associations. We've figured out that we're about the transformation happening in marketing and media because of technology. The opportunity with Debi to bring in a practitioner who's also a great leader — that ended up being the winning combination." Green added, "We talked to over 30 people, and we had an incredible short list that gave the search committee fits."

Before starting at Communispace, which develops and manages online communities for its customers, Kleiman worked in marketing at Gillette, Welch's, and Coca-Cola. She earned an MBA at Harvard Business School in1996. You can follow Kleiman on Twitter: @drkleiman.

MITX chair Larry Weber told me today that he hasn't yet had a chance to sit down with Kleiman...but they're having breakfast together on Wednesday at the Four Seasons.

Mills is leaving the president's job to join her fiancé in California; she originally joined the group as its director of business development in 1999. Her farewell fête is November 4th at Quincy Market.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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