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ISA gets new direction

The executive director of the Interactive Services Association, Robert L. Smith, Jr., leaves the consumer-oriented online services trade group after 14 years.

Robert L. Smith, Jr., executive director of the Interactive Services Association, has left the consumer-oriented online services trade group after 14 years.

Jeff B. Richards, 44, started last week as Smith's successor.

ISA, which counts online services, Internet service providers, developers of interactive TV, telephones, and screen phones as members, said Smith left to pursue other interests.

Smith, 43, was quoted by the company as saying he would take a brief break to spend more time with his family and to pursue a new career in interactive services.

ISA has been an active voice on federal and state public policy issues, including online censorship and smut, consumer privacy, and taxation of online services. It has also launched several consumer education initiatives.

Richards told CNET that ISA's board wants him to build on the association's 350-plus membership as well as build alliances with other organizations, such as one ISA expects to announce this week with the National Association of Broadcasters on programs for NAB's annual meeting.

"ISA a year from now is going to be a much larger, better-networked organization, not just in the United States, but worldwide. We want to be sure we are on the Internet train," said Richards, who also hopes to develop better communication with the media.

"The board has been challenged of late by our rapid growth opportunities. We feel that Jeff will ably lead the management team we have already built," said Mark Goldstein, chairman of ISA's board and CEO of San Francisco-based NetAngels.

In the last decade, Richards has worked at Pacific Bell, Pacific Telesis Group, Bellcore, and Fleishman-Hillard public relations. Most recently, he was senior vice president at the Strategic Alliance Group/Bozell Sawyer Miller Group

ISA will soon release a study of state and local taxation of online and Internet access services, funded by seven ISA member companies. It also is updating privacy guidelines developed with the Direct Marketing Association.