Jennifer Stephens Acree
VP of corporate communications
Jennifer Stephens Acree oversaw one of 2008's biggest business stories. Earlier this year, the media watched intensely as Microsoft nearly took over Yahoo. Despite the frenzy, Acree managed to generate some positive stories about Yahoo's resources and content. She's been with the search company since 2003, rising quickly to her current post in which she runs communications for Yahoo's most coveted properties, such as search and social media. In addition to leading the team through a challenging year, Acree previously pioneered Yahoo's influencer relations programs – one of the first in the industry. In 2009, no doubt the media will keep watching Yahoo, but the industry should also keep an eye on Acree.
Desiree Peterkin Bell
Director of communications
City of Newark (NJ), 30
Since taking office as mayor of Newark in July 2006, Cory Booker, and the city as a whole, has received widespread and consistent media attention. Leading the office's communications strategy is 30-year-old Desiree Peterkin Bell. She spearheaded the development of the 100 Day Plan report, outlining Mayor Booker's priorities. In addition, Bell has managed media outreach which has resulted in more than 1,500 print, electronic, and broadcast stories about the administration in outlets such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Black Enterprise. She also created the Mayor's first cable television show, which reaches more than 100,000 homes.
Gibraltar Associates, 32
Eric Bovim began his career as a Madrid-based journalist, but he left journalism in 2001 and returned to the US to serve as communications director for Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT). He then joined DCI Group, where he generated nearly $20 million in new business in three years as VP of client services, with clients that included Google, Merck, and Pfizer. In 2007, Bovim decided to go into business for himself, cofounding Gibraltar Associates with partner and agency chairman Thomas Pernice. The results so far have been impressive, with new clients such as Dole Food and generic drug company TEVA helping generate more than $2.5 million in revenue in the agency's first year.
Senior comms marketing manager
Stacie Bright has helped shape the PR strategy for 10 of the company's popular brands, including All Small & Mighty and Dove. One of her well-known projects was the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, which was analyzed in a Harvard Business School case study. Bright put herself on the case-study team to show the key contributions PR made during the effort. Bright advocates for a 360-degree marketing approach and uses strong messaging to position Unilever as a leader within the industry. She also encourages the company to embrace non-traditional media, including bloggers and webisodes. Bright has spoken before audiences at The Wharton School and the Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago.
Donna Sokolosky Burke
Cofounder and senior MD
Spark PR, 39
Donna Sokolsky Burke is already established as a Silicon Valley PR veteran. While at Netscape, she helped to launch the landmark browser. She cofounded Spark PR during the height of the first tech boom and has since made a lasting impact in the Valley with clients that include Index Ventures, the Virgin Green Fund, and Barclays. Today, Spark is a $7 million-dollar agency with 35 staffers on three continents, but Burke is still intimately involved in most of firm's new business efforts. And it's not all business for Burke. In addition to her personal community involvement; she has ensured the agency takes on a number of pro bono PR projects, such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation and VentureBeat.
Porter Novelli Life Sciences, 35
Carin Canale took a fledgling life sciences firm in San Diego called Atkins & Associates and guided it through an acquisition with Porter Novelli to make it into a premier life sciences agency. Now Porter Novelli Life Sciences has offices in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, and works with such clients as PerkinElmer, Invitrogen, and Wyeth. Canale has also contributed much of her time to BIO, the biotech trade organization, as a committee member for conferences and is the youngest member of the Biocom board, a regional trade organization for the biotech and life sciences industry. Internally, she was named a co-chair of Porter Novelli's global healthcare council in 2008.
Founder and president
Voce Communications, 39
Richard Cline started his career at as a beat reporter. After working at Weber Shandwick, his entrepreneurial spirit led him to open his own firm in 1999. His vision for Voce was to provide a space for people to explore creativity, commitment, and develop a passion for PR. But he still applies his journalistic skills – and communications savvy – to drive global communications for clients like Sony PlayStation and NetApp. He's even brought his communications skills to public service. In 2006, Cline was appointed to Menlo Park's city council to serve a four-year term. He once walked door-to-door throughout his entire precinct to talk to people about what can make their lives easier.
Director of product publicity
The Hershey Company, 34
Leading product publicity for The Hershey Company for about a year, Cook currently serves as corporate spokesperson for all Hershey brands. In her post, she has also created some innovative product promotions. One noted launch is the company's Bliss line, which partnered with marketing firm House Party. Cook, who began her PR career straight from college, also had a significant role on the communications team at Rite Aid, where she assisted in a wide range of initiatives, from new store openings to crisis communications during Hurricane Katrina. Cook oversaw the PR for Rite Aid's $5 million plus Children's Miracle Network, where she helped to exceed fundraising goals.
President and CEO
Coyne Public Relations, 39
Building Coyne PR from the ground up, Tom Coyne has seen his career evolve from unpaid freelancer to president of a top PR firm, with clients such as Disney, Goodyear, and Hard Rock International. With the corporate philosophy of taking care of business while taking care of each other, Coyne has created a company renowned for long-term staff and client retention. For ex-ample, Nabisco has worked with the firm for about 15 years. The agency's revenue has risen 357% since 2003, with clients across 12 industries. As proud of coaching his children's sports teams as his professional awards, Coyne also devotes his time to pro bono work for organizations like the New Jersey Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Director of PR
The Pepsi Bottling Group, 29
Jeff Dahncke hasn't yet hit 30, but he's already established himself as an industry leader. In his current role, he oversees external communications, including media relations and corporate reputation, for the Fortune 500 company. Nominated for his natural gift in communications and high standard for ethics, Dahncke began his career with a summer internships at Burson-Marsteller and IBM, which later led to several years at Weber Shandwick. At 27, he rose to VP at WS, and led certain facets of accounts, including Siemens and MasterCard, the latter of which he helped guide through its initial public offering in 2006. He is also a member of the board of advisers for the Business Development Institute.
Shift Communications, 39
Todd Defren is one of the pioneers of the social media release and the social media newsroom templates. He's well known for his influential social media, PR, and marketing blog, PR Squared. When the dot-com bubble burst in 2003, Defren bought out Sterling Hager, the agency where he was working, and founded Shift along with fellow colleagues Jim Joyal and Ed Weiler. At Sterling Hager, where he was MD, Defren started the firm's Internet practice before being tapped to lead its new San Francisco office in 2000. In five years, he grew Shift from $2 million in revenues to more than $10 million. He's worked with a variety of clients, including Real Networks, Jim Beam, H&R Block, and Travelocity.
CEO and founder
The Dowd Group, 34
Founding a New York-based PR firm at age 31 is a daunting task. However, Jim Dowd has worked with some of the entertainment business' toughest figures, including Donald Trump and TV producer Mark Burnett when The Apprentice launched, so he's up for challenges. Dowd now oversees a team of nine publicists who represent a diverse group of more than 30 clients, including Yahoo, A&E, LinkedIn, and The Food Network. The agency, which has made branching out beyond entertainment clients a top priority, has grown revenue by 50% each year. It also boasts clients in the fields of consumer products, music, and politics. Dowd was previously manager of program publicity at The History Channel.
President, New York office
Through embodying the characteristics of a true entrepreneur, Russell Dubner managed to move up over the past 16 years from his AAE post to his current role, where he manages 450 staffers in various practice areas. While serving as MD of Edelman's New York corporate and public affairs division, he led the practice to four-fold growth in revenue and staff. An advocate of collaboration and team work, Dubner has mentored junior staffers and encouraged Edelman's office exchange program, which allows employees to spend time in other Edelman locations. He also utilized his creative skills to co-author Edelman's "Pioneer Roadmap," the firm's program planning process and master narrative approach.
US healthcare chair
Chris Foster has taken his broad healthcare background and used it to successfully manage the diverse range of Burson-Marsteller's healthcare clients. He has provided counsel on everything from alliance development and social marketing to media relations and pharma-focused communications. Burson clients include big-name pharma companies like AstraZeneca and pharmacy benefit company Express Scripts. In his current role, Foster manages a staff of 80 and works directly with US CEO Pat Ford. He also launched the DC office of CarryOn Communications, working alone for the first eight months before winning numerous healthcare clients. At CarryOn, his clients included Pfizer, Novartis, and PhRMA.
VP, director of cause branding
Gage has been with Barkley for 16 years. In 2006, she became head of its cause practice group, but her work in cause marketing long precedes that appointment. In 1996, she helped create client Lee Jeans' annual cause program, Lee National Denim Day, which has raised more $70 million for breast cancer research. Since becoming VP, Gage has helped the firm add a number of new clients, including Kohl's, L'Oreal, and The March of Dimes, which Gage led in a relaunch campaign that included a PSA initiative, a new Web site, and a new brand identity. Gage also volunteers with a number of organizations in her free time, including the Rose Brooks Center and the Mothers of Young Children committee.
Blanc & Otus, 38
Mark Hampton has been with Blanc & Otus for just two years, but he is already credited for reinvigorating the agency. During his short tenure, he has seeded changes in the firm's culture and also broadened its focus to include clean tech and deep tech to the agency's traditional focus on enterprise and consumer tech. In turn, the agency has realized more than $10 million in revenue from new clients. The most significant win during Hampton's tenure at B&O has been landing the Oracle account, which was considered one of the most coveted pieces of business in 2007. Before joining the firm, Hampton spent eight years at Text 100, building that agency's Silicon Valley presence.
SVP, communication and public affairs
Chase Card Services, 39
Paul Hartwick has witnessed the many incarnations of what is now Chase Card Services since he joined the team in 1996. Hartwick became head of the department in 2005 and subsequently took charge of internal and external communications for 19,000 employees, leading a group of 11. Through the years, he has handled the internal communications for the 10,000-plus employees who experienced the Bank One merger; led the communications strategy when Chase executives were called into Congressional hearings; helped launch new programs for Chase Card Services; and managed the communications surrounding a CEO change and company reorganization.
Brown Lloyd James, 39
For Michael Holtzman, no delicate international situation is too difficult. Since 2002, he's been EVP and partner at Brown Lloyd James, a firm with offices in New York, London, Washington, and Doha. His diplomatic PR approach was on full display after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when he served as media liaison, at FEMA's request, from Ground Zero. More recently, Holtzman helped to mold the communications strategies of the states of Qatar and Libya, and the messaging of Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the country's first leader post-Saddam Hussein. During his two years as SVP for Weber Shandwick, he helped craft the PR effort for Beijing's winning bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
EVP/MD, global strategic media group
Weber Shandwick, 36
In the current environment, Billee Howard's expertise in financial media relations, CEO brand building, corporate positioning, and b-to-b strategy development is as valuable as ever. Howard managed corporate media relations activities for MasterCard, developing the media strategy for the company's 2006 global IPO and its aftermath. She also developed an enterprise-wide innovation campaign for Honeywell International. Her notable work extends beyond the financial sector. She has helped the budding careers of eager PR-pros-to-be, creating WS' summer New York internship program and working on the American Cancer Society's Young Executive Committee.
SVP and group manager, corporate practice
Melissa Kinch was named VP at the age of 27– one of the youngest in Ketchum history. She is well known for spearheading innovative programs and surpassing client expectations with her program management skills. Kinch played a vital role in the creation of a documentary for Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, for which she was named a co-producer, and helped drive visibility, brand awareness, and policy retention for the Fireman's Fund. Known as Ketchum's go-to expert on de-signing creative CSR programs, her commitment is evidenced by her volunteer efforts leading the firm's internal CSR initiative with Room to Read, a nonprofit dedicated to battling global illiteracy.
SVP of integrated communications
Mark "Mak" Kitchens oversees all external communications for AARP, including serving as chief spokesperson and communications strategist. His appearances in national and international print and broadcast media outlets include appearances on NBC's Today. He is the former deputy press secretary for national security for Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign. Kitchens also served as principal spokesman and strategic communications adviser to Gen. Tommy Franks at US Central Command in Qatar during the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A reserve officer in the US Navy, he was appointed the first-ever White House director of Internet press and Internet press secretary during the Clinton administration.
SVP and MD
Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, 32
Amy Leveton joined Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates immediately after graduating from the University of Michigan in 1998, and advanced quickly through its ranks, becoming the firm's first female VP and today managing a team of more than 35 analysts and managers. Major clients her team serves include General Mills, Proctor & Gamble, and MetLife. Among Leveton's many accomplishments are research tied to Microsoft products over the past several years, including Office, Windows Server Software, and Xbox, as well as polling and other political research that supported Sen. Hillary Clinton's political campaigns in 2000 and 2006, and her presidential campaign in 2008.
President, San Francisco/global sustainability practice leader
Cohn & Wolfe, 38
As the youngest president at Cohn & Wolfe, Annie Longsworth has transformed the firm's San Francisco office. Under her tenure, the office has gone from being on its last leg after the dot-com bust to making record growth and profits. But Longsworth had an even larger vision for the agency. Her passion for green inspired her to launch Cohn & Wolfe's global sustainability practice in 2007. She developed the concept and business case on her own, and after its first 12 months secured six prominent clients. Even still, Longsworth continues to drive new business and keeps staff motivated by launching programs like a professional adviser system.
Adfero Group, 34
Under Jeff Mascott's leadership since 2003, Adfero Group has quickly moved from providing digital services as a subcontractor to other agencies to a full-service PR shop. It combines online and offline tactics for clients that include Microsoft, CTIA, the US Chamber of Commerce, PhRMA, and the National Association of Manufacturers. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Mascott began his career as a staffer on Capitol Hill, eventually becoming online communications strategist for the House, where he designed the original GOP.gov Web site. Mascott currently serves as an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies.
Lewis PR, 35
Morgan McLintic joined Lewis PR when the firm had just one office and 10 staff members. He quickly rose through the ranks, helping the agency grow to more than 300 employees and 34 offices around the world. Along the way, he founded Lewis' San Diego and San Francisco offices and oversaw the foundation of its Hong Kong, Shanghai, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles offices. He has also become a social-media pioneer, establishing one of the first virtual pressrooms in the United Kingdom, the Lewis Wire service, and a well-respected industry blog. Since 2003, he has been leading Lewis in the US and has helped the firm become one of the fastest-growing tech agencies.
SVP, co-group director of 360° Digital Influence
Ogilvy PR Worldwide, 32
In 2005, Virginia Miracle served as Dell's first marketing communications manager focused on word-of-mouth activities, making her one of the early players to hold such a title at a Fortune 50 company. She left Dell to co-lead the word-of-mouth practice at Brains on Fire, where she shepherded an award-winning effort for the Fiskars brand. Appointed as one of the youngest SVPs at Ogilvy PR/North America, Miracle has pioneered an internal program at the agency designed to immerse her fellow colleagues in the social media world. Work aside, Miracle tweets @VirginiaMiracle and authors a blog focusing on marketing environmentalism.
Director of PR
Rockstar Games, 29
Earlier this year, Darlàn Monterisi orchestrated the launch of Grand Theft Auto IV. A strategic corporate and crisis communications plan helped Monterisi and her team control the messaging. Meanwhile, online, print, and broadcast media covered the launch and GTA IV saw more than $400 million in sales during its first week. But Monterisi was well prepared for the challenges of a controversial game. As an officer in the US Marine Corps, she oversaw message development, media relations, and the well-being of the press corps during the Battle of Fallujah. Monterisi also handled marketing for recruitment for the US Armed Forces, and worked as account director in the PR department at Mullen Advertising.
Director of product communications
Novo Nordisk, 39
Much of An Phan's 10-year career in healthcare PR has been driven by pharmaceutical launches. She helped guide the launch of Eloxatin and Eligard, and two Sanofi-Synthelabo cancer treatments before the company merged with Aventis. After only one year at Novo Nordisk, she was promoted to a leadership position on Liraglutide's launch team. Now she is preparing for the approval and launch of that drug, a Type 2 diabetes treatment with rumored blockbuster potential. She will lead internal and external communications for the launch. Phan also worked on high-profile Pfizer drugs Zoloft and Viagra before she moved to Novo Nordisk in 2006.
Director of communications
Mercy Corps, 36
In her role at Mercy Corps, a $250 million-per-year global humanitarian agency, Joy Portella wears many hats. She manages a six-person, in-house communications team and relationships with Waggener Edstrom, DKC, and MS&L; acts as principal spokesperson during global crises; and handles potentially controversial announcements, such as the organization's partnership with Wal-Mart. Moreover, she does her work in the nonprofit sector where funding tends to be limited. In addition to her post at Mercy Corps, her resume is filled with experience across both noted (the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) and lesser-known (the Alliance for Rabies Control) organizations.
EVP, global strategic media group
Weber Shandwick, 32
In her 10-year career at Weber Shandwick, where she has risen through the ranks from account coordinator to her current position, Jennifer Risi has co-led the creation of the agency's global strategic media group, which works to positively influence corporate and executive reputation. In the two years since its founding, she has also helped to grow the group from seven to 25 staff members and earn it annual revenue increases of more than 25%. Risi also created Voiceboxx, WS' proprietary approach to landing high-profile global speaking opportunities, while also handling engagements for some of the agency's most important clients.
SVP and director of insights
Edelman Digital, 39
Steve Rubel is currently a senior strategic counselor on digital marketing and PR for an array of Edelman clients, including Unilever, Microsoft, and PepsiCo. However, he's perhaps best known for launching and turning Micro Persuasion into one of Technorati's top 100 blogs in 2006, as well as for being one of the most followed individuals on Twitter and Friendfeed. Rubel has progressively led technology-driven innovation in the PR and marketing space. Before joining Edelman, he worked at CooperKatz, with clients including Vespa and the Association of National Advertisers, where, beginning in 2004, he was using blogs as a vehicle for PR.
Emanate Public Relations, 39
Christy Salcido's career has run the gamut from agency to corporate and back again, but one constant is her ability to craft successful, ongoing efforts. Currently, Salcido oversees new business and management of Emanate clients like General Mills and Verizon. She spent the first 10 years of her career at Ketchum, where she was eventually promoted to VP and group manager of the consumer brand practice. Salcido spent three years at Starbucks, where she was most recently VP of PR and marketing for Starbucks Entertainment. She developed brand strategy for the company's Hear Music record label, of which Starbucks ceded day-to-day operations to partner Concord Music Group in 2008.
C. Renzi Stone
President and CEO
Saxum Public Relations, 30
C. Renzi Stone started Saxum Strategic Communications in his home in 2003, and since then has grown it to a staff of 20 with offices in Oklahoma and Texas. The agency, under Stone's leadership, received awards in 2007 and 2008 for being one of the fastest growing companies in Oklahoma City. In an effort to distinguish the company's services, Stone rebranded the firm as Saxum Public Relations this year and launched a creative sister agency. Revenues for 2008 are expected to be 17% higher than in 2007. Outside of his agency work, Stone guest hosts a political talk show, engages in public speaking on topics like PR and leadership, and maintains his blog – The Saxum Perspective.
Kimberley Bow Sundy
Manager of PR and community relations
General Mills, 34
Kimberley Bow Sundy has worked to bridge the gap in minority health education and has taken General Mills along for the journey. She has championed this cause with campaigns such as "Cheerios Angel de mi Corazon" and "Cheerios Sisters Saving Hearts," which educate Hispanic and black consumers about the risk of heart disease. Sundy has built relationships with key multicultural influencers, including the National Council of La Raza, and introduced GM's brands to key targets. Also known for her community work, Sundy is a member of the Junior League of Minneapolis, where she serves as chairperson of the Books 4 Kids project.
VoxPop Public Relations, 37
Shannon Troughton recently left a position at the helm of a 30-person corporate communications team at WellPoint, one of the largest health insurers in the US, to start her own healthcare firm, VoxPop Public Relations. She started the firm because she saw a need for boutique agencies that can provide the same service at a lower cost during the recession. At WellPoint, she launched a number of key efforts, such as its Zagat partnership, which allows users to rate their doctors, and the establishment of personalized health records for WellPoint members. She also introduced its new CEO, Angela Braly. The announcement included an aggressive PR campaign focusing on the impact of women in the workplace.
The Jeffrey Group, 29
Mike Valdes-Fauli has carved out his niche as a leader within the Hispanic PR sector, working for both agencies and corporations, and connecting Hispanic consumers with companies such as Universal Pictures, Ford, and GE. His creativity and strategic thinking in the fast-growing Hispanic market helped The Jeffrey Group's US Hispanic division become a multimillion-dollar business, with clients including Microsoft, T-Mobile, JetBlue, and Fox Sports en Español. He also volunteers with organizations including the Young Executive Society for CHARLEE Homes for Kids and La Liga Contra el Cancer. He was also the founder of The Wolf Pack, a young board of directors for the Wolfsonian Institute.
Caroline Van Hove
VP of corporate communications
Caroline Van Hove has helped shape Allergan's image from a cosmetic company that makes Botox into a multi-disciplinary health company with an eye on the evolving healthcare space. Hired as a senior manager of corporate communications, Hove is currently the company's youngest VP of corporate communications. She works with Allergan's portfolio of products, including eye care, obesity intervention, dermatology, and medical aesthetics. Earlier this year, she introduced a corporate positioning program to develop the company's mission statement and tagline – "Our pursuit. Life's potential." – as the corporate communications team continues to push Allergan toward a position as a healthcare company.
Director of communications
Novartis Pharmaceuticals, 36
Julissa Viana has focused her healthcare PR career on specific pharmaceutical products, including her five years at GCI Group and her current position as the director of communications for Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Since July, Viana has managed the company's cardiovascular franchise, which includes high blood pressure treatment Exforge, and acted as a spokesperson for the portfolio's various products. She also started to develop programs that are designed to help patients become more compliant with their medications. Before moving to Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Viana spent nearly three years as the director of US communications and issues management for Sanofi-aventis.
AVP and director of business development
Wilson provides the day-to-day management of CRT/Tanaka's new business efforts, helping the agency win more than $4.5 million in new business over the past three years. He serves as the point person for new business inquiries and oversees the firm's own marketing efforts. Prior to joining CRT/Tanaka, Wilson was public information coordinator for the University of South Carolina. Wilson volunteers extensively in the Richmond community, donating his time and leadership abilities to such organizations as GO READ and the Coalition for a Greater Richmond. He has also served as an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Union University.
Shadow PR, 31
In 2007, Brad Zeifman cofounded Shadow PR, which has since grown to include a West Coast office and a staff of 12. Zeifman and partner Lisette Sand-Freedman represent clients that include NBC, Intermix, Mulberry, Victoria's Secret, and MySpace Celebrity, among others. Originally focused on nightlife publicity, Zeifman gained experience in the entertainment, special events, and hospitality sectors while working at Rubenstein PR and Susan Blond. His work with the Marc Ecko "Save the Rhinos" campaign was recognized by the industry, and he continues to serve as the personal representation for Star Jones, having worked with her since 2006.