DMEF Honors KBM Group's Gary S. Laben, DIRECTV

DMEF Honors KBM Group's Gary S. Laben, DIRECTV

(article ran on October 15, 2012, © reprinted with permission by Chief Marketer)

Las Vegas, NV, October 14, 2012—The Direct Marketing Educational Foundation honored KBM Group CEO Gary S. Laben on October 14 with the Edward N. Mayer Jr. Education Leadership Award.

Recognized as DMEF’s most prominent award, the Edward N. Mayer, Jr. Award for Education Leadership honors individuals who demonstrate the highest level of personal commitment to helping create effective programs, concepts, teaching methods, or materials for the instruction of college students or professors; providing personal and corporate financial assistance; and executing other contributions that effectively assist or promote the DMEF’s mission and objectives.

Craig Wood, CEO and founder of Clarity Group and chair of the DMEF Board of Trustees, joked that he and Laben had worked together for only about six months, but that turned into a 10 year commitment to the DMEF.

Wood asked friends and colleagues to send him words that described Laben and turned those into a word cloud that included not only "smart," "loyal," "driven" and "thoughtful," but "Diet Coke" and "deep voice." In a video tribute, friends ribbed Laben about his keen sense of sartorial style and his wine expertise. Even Daniel Morel, CEO and chair of Wunderman, said he would be afraid to order wine in front of Laben—-and Morel is a Frenchman.

Laben's wife Pam and his young son Luke as well as his sister and mother were there to see him receive the award.

"My mother and sister are here because they couldn't get last minute tickets to Elton John," he joked. "My mother still doesn’t understand what I do for a living. Mom, this is a medical convention and I'm a doctor."

Gary S. Laben is a 25-year veteran of the information marketing industry, and has been with KBM Group (formerly KnowledgeBase Marketing) since 2000. He is a Past Chair of the DMEF, and serves on the Direct Marketing Association's Board of Directors. He has just been named to the DMEF’s Chair’s Advisory Council and currently is Chairman-Elect of the Executive Advisory Board of The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing (Taylor Institute) and Suarez Laboratories for Applied Marketing Research at the University of Akron. In 2010, Laben was named to BtoB Magazine’s Who’s Who in Direct Marketing, and in 2009, was named Direct Marketer of the Year by The Taylor Institute. Laben is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

Laben began his speech by noting the good work done on the behalf of the DMEF by DIRECTV, this year's winner of the Corporate Leadership Award.

Brad Bentley, senior vice president of marketing and direct sales for DIRECTV accepted the award on behalf of his company. It was a little ironic, as he was once rejected as a DMEF program scholarship applicant years ago.

The ceremony was held at the Keep Memory Alive Center in Las Vegas, a unique building designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.

"Many of us found our way to direct and digital marketing through diverse paths, and some of us have done so thanks to DMEF," said Peg Kuman, vice chairman, Relevate. "By providing a host of educational resources, from scholarships to career placements and so much more, DMEF makes the choice of a marketing career easier for thousands of students, many of whom are already emerging as recognized leaders in our field."

A big part of the evening was a lively fundraising auction run by JoAnne Monfradi Dunn, president and CEO of Alliant.