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ACADEMY of DIGITAL MEDIA Background & Executives

Academy of Digital Media Company Background
Founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1996 and now located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, The Academy of Digital Media (formerly the Laredo Group) is the leading digital media sales and buying training company dedicated to helping you increase sales and decrease costs through knowledge and efficiencies related to online advertising sales and planning/buying. Our online digital media training includes: IAB digital media sales certification, programmatic media, search engine marketing, site optimization and more. The Academy of Digital Media provides customized digital media sales training for corporations and individuals, and digital advertising training for buyers and sellers designed to increase the revenue potential and production of staff and products for both traditional, online and cross-platform sales and marketing activities. The client list of The Academy of Digital Media includes many of the world’s largest and most successful companies as well as smaller firms, start-ups and many industry associations.

Academy of Digital Media Executives
The company Principals have decades of real-world experience with hands-on experience to help you train your digital media staff to increase sales, improve performance and efficiencies, and decrease costs.

Click here for our Adjunct Instructor bios.

Leslie Laredo, President        Follow Leslie:            

Leslie Laredo PhotoLeslie Laredo has been a pioneer and innovator in the digital and interactive media industry since 1983. She has been instrumental in dramatically improving the knowledge and skills of media professionals on how to sell and buy audiences and content across the digital media ecosystem, as well as enable corporate and brand marketers to incorporate digital platforms into their plans.

In the last 20 years, Leslie has trained well over 100,000 professionals in multi-brand media and ad tech companies, ad agencies and brand marketing as well as consulted with junior to C-suite level professionals at a wide range of organizations, worldwide, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.

Her training and consulting services have been used and valued by C-level executives, vice presidents, sales and account managers, media buyers and planners and corporate, brand and product marketers. She has worked with media representing local, niche, national, B2B and international audiences; with accounts spanning many industries including technology, automotive, travel, financial, pharmaceutical and healthcare and more.

Leslie’s students complete her courses with increased confidence, sharpened skills and the knowledge and proficiency that is needed to be effective at digital media buying and selling, and how to integrate digital platforms into marketing.

A hallmark of her insights for training is her work with every level and facet of the media industry…buyers, sellers, managers, executives and marketers of all sizes. Understanding marketing strategies and media tactics with a 360-degree view of the process is critical for anyone to be successful in digital media and marketing and perform at the highest levels.

Leslie founded The Laredo Group in 1996 and its Academy of Digital Media training division. Before that she founded the very first digital ad sales rep firm (sold to Softbank), after her roles as the Director of New Media for AT&T and Ziff-Davis. Prior to that Leslie was the top digital ad sales executive at Prodigy. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental Science from Cornell University, and studied internationally in Sweden. She splits her time between homes and offices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and New York City.

Click Here to Send Email to Leslie Laredo.

Jeff Leibowitz, CEO        Follow Jeff:    

Jeff Leibowitz PhotoJeff Leibowitz is a respected management, marketing, business and product development consultant to the digital, entertainment and mass-media industries with 35+ years of industry experience. He joined The Academy of Digital Media as CEO in 1998 and has since led the company to significant growth in revenue and profit through acquisition and enhanced product offerings.

Prior to the Academy, he served as President of ENGAGE games online, a provider of high-quality games entertainment to major digital services worldwide. Before ENGAGE, Mr. Leibowitz served as Executive Vice President with Reuters’ Reality Online, developers of Reuters Money Network. Prior to Reality, Jeff helped develop and introduce the concept of cyber-community with The ImagiNation Network, the first digital graphically-based gaming social network.

Selected as one of the Website 100 Most Influential People on the World Wide Web, Jeff has spoken often at Internet, computer, entertainment and media industry conferences. He is a former co-host of the nationally syndicated radio talk show On Computers and the online host of Cybermania, the nationally telecast annual awards show of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.

Jeff has consulted with start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike. His expertise in developing digital marketing strategies and business plans has made him one of the most desired consultants in the interactive industry. He has been instrumental in making The Academy of Digital Media the most sought after and renowned training organization in digital media.

Jeff received his B.S. in Business Administration from Vanderbilt University and attended graduate school at Boston University. Jeff is a member of the Friars Club as well as an officer in the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps and a Life Member of the Navy League of the United States.

Click Here to Send Email to Jeff Leibowitz.


Adjunct Instructors

Rita Burke, Adjunct Instructor

Rita Burke PhotoRita Burke is an experienced sales trainer and consultant who has helped diverse organizations achieve measureable performance improvements and increase revenues. She is recognized for her experience in leading sales teams as well as her training and coaching skills. Rita has provided customized training in the B2B and B2C markets, as well as for many national industry associations. As an Adjunct Instructor with the Academy of Digital Media, she works with Academy clients to improve selling skills for both new and advanced digital media and advertising technology sellers.

For over fifteen years, Rita held a number of senior level positions at Ziff-Davis Media. As a sales leader, she was responsible for talent development and driving new advertising revenue. During her tenure with the company Rita gained global experience as the Director of International Sales & Marketing, where she led the US team and designed and delivered training for sales teams in Europe, Mexico and China. As EVP Corporate Sales, she spearheaded a 360° sales process company-wide to sell customized, integrated media programs to major accounts including IBM, Gateway, Dell, Microsoft and HP.

As President, Sales for Zinio, a digital start-up, she was responsible for closing new business and developing strategic client relationships. While at Zinio, she negotiated portfolio agreements with key accounts and trained and coached the sales, account management and production teams, leading to extraordinary growth in the US client base.

Rita graduated with honors and a Bachelors of Arts from Loyola University in Chicago. Her rich background in sales and sales management combined with her ability to teach and coach both new and experienced sellers provides a potent combination for helping Academy of Digital Media students increase revenue and improve market positions.

Click Here to Send Email to Rita Burke.

Darcy Bevelacqua, Adjunct Instructor

Darcy Bevelacqua PhotoDarcy is a Customer Experience and CRM Strategist who helps companies understand their current customer experience…though the use of data, technology, analytics, journey mapping and voice of the customer and employee. She began her career at American Express and Accenture where she learned the importance of data and analytics to inform strategy and create omni-channel experiences across the customer touch-points by integrating of online, web, social media, direct mail, email, mobile, retail, call center, apps etc. into a comprehensive customer communications plan.

Darcy has lead teams who have designed journey maps, built customer centric databases, created dashboards, implemented machine learning and A/B testing, and functioned as the key liaison to the IT team to translate the needs to marketing into technology requirements and solutions. She has worked for a variety of clients including: Accenture Interactive, AARP, Miller Brewing, E*Trade, American Express, AIG, AEGON, Bath and Body Works , Bank of the West, Bluestreak, CBORD, Cisco, Cornell, Corning, Carnival Cruise Lines, Darden, Dell, Economist, EDS, Experian, Franklin Covey, Harte Hanks, Inter Continental Hotels , Kodak, Lenscafters, MCI, McCann, Merck, Merkle, Mutual of Omaha, Physician Technology Partners, Pfizer, RadioShack, Revlon, SC Johnson, Sears, Staples, Toyota, Victoria’s Secret, Wunderman, US Chamber of Commerce, and many others.

Darcy is currently the VP of Sales for SuiteCX, a leading customer experience platform that helps you analyze, visualize, optimize and automate your customer journey and experience. She holds a BA in Psychology from Hood College and MA in Human Resources from the New School for Social Research.

Click Here to Send Email to Darcy Bevelacqua.

Lynn Bolger, Adjunct Instructor

Lynn Bolger PhotoLynn is a media professional with deep digital knowledge and broad perspective of the media marketplace.

She started her career at major agencies planning media and conducting research for large national advertisers. As technology changed spawned new media experiences, Lynn was swiftly caught in the surge surrounding digital media, enticed by its potential to disrupt. Lynn was among the earliest believers in the Internet and its power to redefine the ad industry. She led nascent interactive media teams at FCB, Ammirati Puris Lintas and Initiative Media, where Lynn served as EVP, Director of Digital Media Services and Operations. While working agency side, Lynn was deeply involved in pivotal industry policy-making that enabled the Internet to break through to the media “mainstream.”

In 2002 Lynn joined comScore as a key member of the management team. As an EVP at comScore, Lynn focused on sales of syndicated services, custom e-commerce, behavioral studies, and advertising effectiveness tools such as comScore’s vCE. Lynn is extremely proud of the role she played to help comScore become the uncontested leader in digital measurement.

More recently, Lynn has tackled ad tech sales for mobile media at Medialets and for a mobile DSP. She’s currently an active strategic consultant for advertisers, data providers, tech vendors and other advertising service organizations, helping them all embrace the latest technologies to evolve and grow.

Over the years Lynn has served extensively on industry committees for the Advertising Research Foundation, the AAAAs, and the IAB, and has been a frequent speaker at industry events.

Click Here to Send Email to Lynn Bolger.