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Bold Types

MassDevelopment’s new chief needs no introduction

Lauren Liss is the new chief executive of MassDevelopment.
Chris Morris for The Boston Globe
Lauren Liss is the new chief executive of MassDevelopment.

Jay Ash never forgot the first time he met Lauren Liss, then a sympathetic soul at the state Department of Environmental Protection.

He was the Chelsea city manager at the time and was leery of the DEP — until he met Liss.

She was the agency’s commissioner, and Ash, who later served as Governor Charlie Baker’s economic development secretary, said he was pleasantly surprised by her responsiveness during their first meeting. He returned to Chelsea singing her praises to his deputy at the time, Kim Driscoll, now the mayor of Salem.

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Now, more than a decade later, Ash, who currently chairs the MassDevelopment board — will be able to work with her more closely. The board voted last week to approve Liss as its new chief.

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She’ll leave her job as a partner at the law firm of Rubin and Rudman and will start at MassDevelopment on Sept. 5.

Liss replaces Marty Jones, who was appointed under Governor Deval Patrick in 2011. The board decided not to renew Jones’s contract, and she left at the end of June.

A MassDevelopment spokesman says Liss is still negotiating the terms of her contract; Jones made $235,000 a year.

As chief executive of MassDevelopment, the quasi-public economic development agency, Liss will oversee a staff of about 180 employees, including about 70 who work at Devens, the former military base that is now largely an office and industrial park overseen by the agency.

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Liss, who was DEP commissioner from 1999 to 2003, says she doesn’t expect to make any big changes. She says she is impressed by the foundation built by her predecessors in the top job at MassDevelopment — Jones and Mike Hogan, now chief executive of A.D. Makepeace.

“I feel extremely fortunate to be coming to an agency with such a strong history and a proven track record of promoting economic growth in the commonwealth,” Liss says.

“The opportunity to be in the public sector again, to return to public service, and this agency in particular, is just tremendous.”

JON CHESTO

Actors not needed

Darlene Hollywood knew the calls from aspiring actors wouldn’t be stopped by simply changing her firm’s name.

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The name change — from Hollywood Public Relations to Hollywood Agency — coincided with a big move: Hollywood moved her 12-person firm to the Hingham Shipyard from Plymouth, largely to make it easier compete with the Boston PR agencies for millennials who want to live in or near the city.

The move, she says, is already paying off. “We just recruited someone from a big agency downtown.”

The location offers various transportation options. Some workers arrive by ferry, some by bus, some by car.

A South Shore resident, Hollywood didn’t want to move the office into Boston. But Plymouth was simply too far for many recruits, and she wants to double her staff’s size within three years.

The firm’s clients include South Shore Bank, Samsonite, and Honeywell.

So why the name change?

Hollywood says her five-year-old firm has broadened its services beyond public relations, and she wanted the name to reflect the wider scope. Her firm is now purchasing social media ads for clients. She’s also open to adding creative services — designing ads and advertising campaigns — within a few years.

She recognizes her name is catchy. Perhaps too catchy.

“We get at least one aspiring actor or actress call us a week,” Hollywood says. “We just say, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t help you out.’ ”

JON CHESTO

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