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updated: 11/16/2012 6:51 AM

Follett goes outside family to find new CEO

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  • Mary Lee Schneider

    Mary Lee Schneider

By Richard R. Klicki

Follett Corp. has named former RR Donnelly executive Mary Lee Schneider to be the River Grove-based company's new president and CEO.

Schneider becomes the first nonfamily member to lead the privately held educational materials company in its 140-year history. She will replace Chuck Follett. who announced his retirement earlier this year, a company spokesman said.

With divisions based in Oak Brook, Woodridge and McHenry, Follett is a $2.7 billion company.

A Chicago resident, Schneider will start her new job on Nov. 26, according to Follett. She was Donnelley's president of digital solutions and chief technology officer. She was also a member of Follett's board of directors for 11 years.

"Mary Lee has extensive management experience and a strong track record for driving growth and revenue," said Follett board chairman Alison O'Hara. "The board of directors unanimously approved Mary Lee's appointment because of her past success leading technology businesses and operations at large public companies. She has been one of the drivers of RR Donnelley's transformation from print to digital, which is a critical focus for Follett and our customers throughout education."

During her career at RR Donnelley, Schneider had responsibility for identifying, building and growing technology-enabled capabilities and businesses, as well as for setting overall research and development strategy and investment direction. She was responsible for building Donnelley's Premedia Technologies business, one of the world's largest providers of digital photography, color management and digital asset management services. Schneider started her career in publishing in New York, working for McGraw Hill and Time Inc.

"As a board member, I've seen first hand the critical role that Follett plays in partnering with schools and educators to prepare the next generation of learners," Schneider said. "I am honored to take on this role and I genuinely believe there is no more exciting place to be right now than on the forefront of changes in the education industry."

Schneider will work with O'Hara to strengthen and pursue Follett's strategic growth plans. O'Hara joined Follett in 1999 and served as assistant general counsel before being named chairman of the board in 2011. Following the June 2012 retirement of former President and CEO Chuck Follett, O'Hara served as acting CEO while leading the board's succession process that culminated in Schneider's election.

Schneider has a bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University, a master's from the Rochester Institute of Technology and MBA and master's degrees from Northwestern University.

Follett has expanded its role as an educational textbook publisher to become a provider of print and digital learning materials, retail services, library resources and school management systems to more than 980 college campuses and 65,000 elementary and high schools.

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