The Smart Card Forum has hired an executive director with extensive experience managing trade associations.

Diane Darrow, 42, succeeded Julie Kreuger, who had been acting executive director since October.

The 200-member forum was founded in 1993; Ms. Darrow is its second full- time executive.

The first, I. Robert Gilson, held the post in 1995 and 1996. He left last year citing personal reasons after the organization moved to McLean, Va., from Tampa. The forum said it moved to the Washington suburb to be closer to other trade associations and policy makers.

This year the forum retained Association Management Group Inc. to manage its day-to-day operations. That firm conducted the search for an executive director.

Forum participants said Ms. Darrow brings years of management experience that will be indispensable as the group expands its agenda of promoting chip card technology.

"Diane brings a high level of professionalism to the forum, " said Jean McKenna, president of the Smart Card Forum and senior vice president of Visa International. She "will be able to address the needs of the membership group as the forum expands."

Ms. Darrow graduated in 1977 from the University of Denver, where she earned a BA in political science. She has spent the last 20 years managing trade associations, and earned the credential of certified association executive in 1993.

Since 1990 she has overseen five special-interest groups for the New York-based Association for Computing Machinery, an organization with 85,000 members.

Before that she was meetings manager for the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, New York. She also held a variety of management positions with the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association in North Carolina.

"For any association, one of the major challenges is to keep the very busy and very active participants in the industry involved," Ms. Darrow said. "The responsible management of that is certainly a wonderful opportunity."

Ms. Darrow said her experience with the Association for Computing Machinery made her comfortable with technology issues.

She said she intends to let the Smart Card Forum directors and members stay in the forefront while she acts as a manager and facilitator.

"She has no direct smart card experience," said William J. Barr, executive director of information networking at Bellcore, Morristown, N.J., and vice president of the forum. "She is an association management professional."

Ms. Darrow said one of her challenges will be to work with the forum's work groups, such as those recently formed on interoperability and multiple applications.

"As our organization has grown, we've all been surprised by the amount of coordination and administration required," said Michael H. Smith, who is secretary of the forum and general manager of operations, smart cards, and systems in Schlumberger's U.S. organization. Ms. Darrow "is helping to manage the Smart Card Forum and is fulfilling organizational and administrative goals so the board can concentrate on the content of the meetings and work groups."

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