I love the role news professionals play in a democracy and in creating informed communities.
Back in June 2008, advertisers in the Miami Herald newspaper had begun to pull back in what felt like an implosion, posing enormous challenges for Alexandra Villoch, the paper’s top advertising executive. During this same period, the Zoological Society of Florida offered her a top position. With Miami on the precipice of the Great Recession, Villoch resigned from the Herald. During what should have been her last four weeks, though, she realized her passion was in media and asked for her job back.
Not only did Villoch stay with the Herald, she eventually became president and publisher of the Miami Herald Media Company, navigating it through its transition to the digital age. She used her own story to retain top members of her team who faced similar challenges. As the company has shifted its business model away from traditional advertisers stressed by Amazon, and toward content production like its digital website, videos and podcasts, it has seen incredible growth, all under Villoch’s watch. “More people consume our content than ever before; they just do it on different platforms,” she says. “Our content has value, and people should pay for that content. We have a very clear vision of where we need to get to.” Along the way, Villoch has retained the Herald’s core mission. “I love the role news professionals play in a democracy and in creating informed communities,” she says. “Our role is to shine the light and be the voice for people who might not have a voice, to hold government officials accountable and to celebrate those in the community doing good. It’s the coolest job ever!”
The seeds for her dream job were planted at the University of Miami, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and an MBA. She worked in finance for the banking and airline industries, eventually jumping over to the operations side at United Airlines as its general manager for Miami International Airport and the Caribbean. Facing a transfer out of Miami from United Airlines, Villoch realized she just couldn’t leave Miami. So, despite having no experience in direct sales or media, she joined the Herald as national advertising director in 2000. “I was told I understand Miami and could learn the rest,” she recalls. “I’ve never looked back.”
Villoch was promoted to Director of Retail Advertising and Event Marketing the following year and, in 2005, Senior Vice President for Advertising and Marketing. Under her tutelage, the company launched the glossy luxury lifestyle magazine, INDULGE. When Villoch took the company helm in 2014 as President and Publisher of the Miami Herald Media Company, she became its first female publisher and the third Hispanic to fill the role.
Last year, Herald parent McClatchy added East Region Publisher to Villoch’s duties, and she now travels to oversee six additional media companies. She also prioritizes civic engagements, serving in top roles for The Beacon Council and United Way of Miami-Dade. “You can’t be isolated,” Villoch says.