Alayne Fardella, The Seattle Times’ chief operating officer, has been named the company’s new president and COO.
Fardella, who joined The Times in 1995, has served in a number of leadership roles, including as senior vice president of business operations and vice president of human resources and labor.
She left the company in 2010, subsequently served in a consulting role for The Times and returned full-time when she was named COO in 2012.
Frank Blethen, publisher and chief executive of The Times, in a news release announcing the promotion, cited Fardella’s strengths in “creative, thoughtful problem solving, mentoring and leadership.”
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Fardella said she was “humbled and honored” to serve in the role.
“As is the case with others in our industry, we have many challenges ahead adapting to fundamental shifts in the business model, but I am confident in our ability to navigate through them and emerge strong, while remaining laser focused on our public-service mission,” she said in the news release.
Fardella said in an interview that her primary responsibility will be to “continue to deliver quality journalism to our community in the way that all of our readers need us to do, whatever platform that is.”
She said her main focus will be on The Times’ digital transformation — “ensuring that we’re able to transform into a new-media company on multiple platforms.”
Before joining The Times, Fardella held management positions with technology and manufacturing companies, including Intel and National Semiconductor. Fardella holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University.
As president and COO, Fardella will continue to report directly to Blethen.
The position of president has been vacant since former Seattle Times President Carolyn Kelly retired at the end of 2010.
Blethen said the presidency and several other leadership positions were not filled for several years because The Times was just coming out of its debt restructure.
Fardella’s appointment to the presidency means that, under the company’s bylaws, she would act in Blethen’s stead as publisher if Blethen were to be incapacitated or if he suddenly retired.
But “I have no intention of retiring soon,” Blethen said.
The Blethen family has owned The Seattle Times for 117 years. Frank Blethen is part of the fourth generation of Blethen owners; members of the fifth generation are also working within The Seattle Times, including Seattle Times associate publisher Ryan Blethen.
“The family bias is always to have a family publisher,” Frank Blethen said.