Jane R. Seagrave has been named publisher of the Vineyard Gazette, the newspaper’s owners, Jerome and Nancy Kohlberg, announced today.

Currently senior vice president and chief revenue officer for the Associated Press in New York city, Ms. Seagrave, who is 56, has a long career in journalism that spans some three decades on both the editorial and business sides of the industry. In the last decade she has focused heavily on the emerging world of electronic journalism where she has played a leadership role on a number of fronts, most recently rising swiftly through the ranks to her current senior position at the AP, the venerable news wire service that is nearly as old as the Gazette.

Mr. Kohlberg cited Ms. Seagrave’s leadership qualities as a key factor that led him and a search committee to choose her for the top post at the newspaper. “The first thing we were looking for in a candidate was leadership,” he said. “There had been a void for a long time and the newspaper staff has done wonders in keeping the paper going and holding its place.” He continued: “She’s got a resume that is well-rounded and she has excellent experience, she knows the editorial and sales side . . . but I must say it’s the fact that she has leadership in her bones and her soul and this is what we sense. She is a person of tremendous integrity and vision who grows on you.”

The Kohlbergs, who are philanthropists, business owners and longtime seasonal residents of the Island, bought the Gazette in late November from the Reston family which had owned it since 1967. A search for a new publisher was launched immediately.

Ms. Seagrave’s roots are firmly planted in coastal New England. Born in Fall River, she grew up in Darien, Conn., and was educated in the public schools there. She graduated from Bowdoin College in 1976 cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English and government. Her first job was as director of publications for the Massachusetts Municipal Association where among other things she wrote a handbook for selectmen in the commonwealth. During that period she consulted briefly with the town of Gay Head, her first brush with the Vineyard.

Following that she was a reporter for the AP for six years in Boston, Grants Pass, Ore., and Santa Fe, N.M. In 1987 she went to work for Lawyers Weekly Publications, launching weekly newspapers, also enrolling at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where she obtained a master’s degree in public administration in 1989. She said during her time at the Kennedy School she became interested in the business side of publishing.

“I was not really sure what I wanted to do . . . I thought I might actually want to cover politics,” she recalled. “I got there and started taking classes in business and nonprofit management, discovered an aptitude in business that I never really thought I had and discovered there is a creativity on the business side of publishing.”

Her work since then has covered a wide range, including in the last 10 to 15 years the digital arena of publishing. She was chief executive officer of Localbusiness.com and chief online strategy consultant for American Lawyer Media in New York. From 2003 until now she has been at the AP, as a vice president and director in new media markets and then as a senior vice president in global product development which included presiding over the transformation of AP from a wire service to a multimedia digital news provider.

“I have been looking at ways of getting information and news to people in the way they want to get it — on computers, on their phones, in print or any other way,” she said. “For me it has not really been about newspapers in the last seven years, it’s been about news.”

In January 2010 she was named senior vice president and chief revenue officer at AP.

She said her interest in the job at the Gazette was a blend of personal and professional reasons.

“The idea of taking a newspaper that I had known most of my professional career — because it really is a unique gem of a paper, quirky, literary, a fine piece of journalism, well respected and well known — the idea of taking that to a new generation of readers was extremely appealing,” she said.

She has never lived on the Vineyard but she is no stranger to the place. “I covered stories there for the AP when I worked for them; I visited there with MMA and because it was beautiful, I have been there a lot,” she said, adding: “It really is an extraordinary place. It has a cultural mix, an astonishing physical beauty that is exceptional, a consciousness about the native land that is exceptional. It’s got so many assets and . . . the idea of connecting readers and service providers and that extended family of people that love the Island who don’t live there year-round seemed to me the kind of job that doesn’t exist anywhere else.”

Mr. Kohlberg added his view: “Jane has achieved tremendous recognition in the newspaper and communication world and she is giving up a wonderful job, but only to take this job. She said, ‘I wouldn’t leave for anyplace else except the Vineyard Gazette,’ and that made a great impression on us.”

The Kohlbergs introduced Ms. Seagrave to the Gazette staff in the newsroom yesterday afternoon.

Ms. Seagrave will begin working at the paper in early April. She and her husband, John H. Kennedy, who is a former Boston Globe reporter and journalism professor at La Salle University in Pennsylvania, will permanently relocate from their home in Wynnewood, Pa., to the Vineyard. Mr. Kennedy will leave his job at the end of the spring semester, and plans to devote his time here to writing and independent journalism projects, Ms. Seagrave said. Their daughter, Emily Seagrave Kennedy, is a junior at Oberlin College.

A swimmer, hiker and reader (she is currently reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen on her iPad), Ms. Seagrave describes herself as a small-town New Englander at heart. Her grandfather on her mother’s side was the city editor of the old Boston Herald, and he bought a summer house on Cliff island off Portland, Me., when her mother was a young girl. Along with her three sisters, she has gone there summers all her life.

“The idea of living on an Island where I can be close to the beauty of nature and really be in my own personal element is appealing,” she said. “I live in Philly and have worked in New York for seven years. For the first six I commuted five hours a day. A year ago I took a small apartment in Manhattan; now I am sleeping more but I leave my husband and my cat Magic at home. We wanted to integrate our work and personal lives a little more.”

She also said: “I think the AP is in excellent hands; I am not leaving the AP, I am moving to something that is extraordinarily personal.”

As for the change from a large news organization to a small community weekly, Ms. Seagrave said:

“I think the parallels are closer than you might think. The AP has a lot of the same institutional values that you want to protect and have an urgent need to protect — there is a certain public trust aspect of the brand that is as old as the AP and the Vineyard Gazette. I have some thoughts about where we want to go but I want to spend some time talking to the staff, the advertisers and the readers. You don’t come into an institution like the Vineyard Gazette and know better,” she said, adding:

“I think the Kohlbergs vision is to preserve some of the historic nature of the newspaper’s involvement in the community, to make it a teaching institution, and all those things are possible and I embrace them. It is taking what is a jewel and figuring out the best way to expand beyond that.” She concluded:

“The vision is continuing a conversation that was started very well by Edgar Marchant and beyond that was continued by Henry Hough and the Restons . . . The Gazette is a healthy newspaper that needs some leadership to take it to the next level. I am honored and privileged to get the assignment.

“And I am also so impressed with the Kohlbergs and what they have brought into it — their commitment.”

Mr. Kohlberg praised the work of the search committee; he said there were a large number of extremely talented candidates. “I have conducted many searches and this was, I must say, very enlightening,” he said. In the end, he said Ms. Seagrave “came from behind — this is the kind of thing that often happens and in this case we are lucky to have had it happen.”

His specific charge for Ms. Seagrave? He said:

“I think I would say that she should fulfill her own great promise. To bring that back down to earth, I would hope she would make this paper what it can be. I think we can achieve greatness. It reminds me of the days of Henry Beetle Hough and his wife and the respect that everyone had for the Vineyard Gazette and how everyone just took great pride in this wonderful institution. And I think that can happen again. I thank all of the staff for hanging in there and maintaining things during what were very difficult circumstances. I think Jane will be the kind of leader everyone wants, and we are going to back her and the rest of the staff as far as we can. From my point of view, this is just a beginning.”