ACA International announced Tuesday that it did not renew longtime CEO Rozanne Andersen's employment contract and has replaced her effective immediately.

Ted Smith, ACA's chief operating officer, will assume leadership duties while a national search for a new CEO takes place, according to ACA. The association is the largest national association representing the collection industry, with more than 5,000 members worldwide.

"ACA remains a healthy, strong and vibrant organization that is well positioned to succeed. After careful deliberation, the Executive Committee believes that this is the right time for new leadership to navigate ACA into the future," ACA President Martin Sher said in a news release. "[She] is an exceptional, accomplished and talented person. We appreciate her passion and commitment to ACA and its members and wish her well in future endeavors."

ACA officials declined further comment other than emphasizing that the decision to replace Andersen is simply a move to a "new direction."

Andersen could not be immediately reached for comment about the decision. She joined ACA in 1996 and spent several years as general counsel and senior vice president before becoming CEO.

She was twice named one of the top achievers in the collection industry by Collections & Credit Risk for her role in helping shape the industry's legislative priorities, traveling often to the U.S. capital and meeting frequently with both federal and state lawmakers.

ACA has had a government affairs division for nearly 30 years but Andersen is widely credited with building it into a key presence in Washington.

Her efforts have regularly paid off, according to industry observers, including in mid-2006 when Congress passed three amendments to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that were widely considered very favorable to the collection business.

Andersen has regularly championed the industry in her role as CEO, including working to fight negative stereotypes about collections.

"We need to have a greater appreciation by the press and policymakers of the value of the collection industry to the U.S. economy," she once told Collections & Credit Risk for a story about FDCPA reform. "If this [oppresive regulatory trend] continues, it could literally cripple an extremely valuable industry."

Collections & Credit Risk will update this story as more information becomes available.

To comment about Andersen's legacy and impact on the collection industry, contact Darren Waggoner at: darren.waggoner@sourcemedia.com or 815.463.9008. Your comments may be used for publication.

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