Gannett president, newspaper publisher is commencement speaker

GREEN BAY — Laura (Busby) Hollingsworth, a 1989 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and president and publisher of The Des Moines Register, one of America’s most distinguished regional newspapers, will address more than 350 graduates at the UW-Green Bay Fall 2008 Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 20.

Laura Hollingsworth

Laura Hollingsworth

Hollingsworth was appointed to the position in September 2007 at age 41. This summer, she was given additional responsibility when The Register’s parent, Gannett Co., named her group president of the company’s west division, overseeing 16 markets in the western United States.

Hollingsworth has made a priority of accelerating The Register’s transformation from traditional newspaper to a multimedia enterprise serving a range of audiences. While the print edition holds the No. 1 ranking nationally for newspaper market penetration, the website has expanded to attract 2.1 million unique users per month. Hollingsworth has ultimate responsibility for all aspects of the business – news, advertising, distribution and production – and for establishing priorities and standards.

Because of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, the publisher’s role in guiding coverage and shaping endorsements draws national attention. This year, The New York Times reported on The Register’s sizeable influence and also noted a milestone involving Hollingsworth and her two top editors. For the first time in the paper’s 150-year history, women fill the top three spots on the paper’s editorial board.

Hollingsworth graduated from UW-Green Bay in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Processes. She joined the staff of the Green Bay Press-Gazette and worked as an advertising executive for newspapers in Olympia, Wash.; Rockford, Ill.; and Lansing, Mich., before moving to Des Moines in 2002 as vice president of advertising. She was named general manager in 2005.

She has received the Gannett President’s Ring for excellence in advertising six times, and was recognized by Presstime magazine as an industry up-and-comer in their annual “20 under 40” publication.

Hollingsworth’s community involvement includes serving on the boards of directors for: Variety – The Children’s Charity of Iowa; Principal Financial Charity Senior Golf Classic; Character Counts in Iowa; and the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

“I am passionate about the health and welfare of our children,” Hollingsworth said. “Personally, this is where I dedicate a lot of my own time and giving. Dedicating ourselves to improving the lives of all our children will certainly benefit us all.”

Hollingsworth lives in Johnston, Iowa, with her husband, 18-year-old daughter and 3-year-old twins. Her parents reside in Sturgeon Bay.