Flowers promotes Whitehead to chief executive

CHICAGO: Independent multicultural firm Flowers Communications Group has promoted president Rashada Whitehead to CEO, succeeding founder and chief executive Michelle Flowers Welch.

CHICAGO: Multicultural agency Flowers Communications Group has promoted president Rashada Whitehead to CEO, succeeding founder and chief executive Michelle Flowers Welch.

With the succession, Whitehead has gained an equity stake in the company.

Welch is assuming the role of chairman and will continue to advise the agency on business strategy, Whitehead said.

"[Welch] continues to be our biggest asset and to serve as a guiding light for the business," Whitehead said. "She is such a great brain trust and one of the pioneers in the PR industry."

Flowers had been planning the succession since Whitehead returned to the firm in 2008 as SVP and its first appointed MD. She became president of the agency in January 2011.

Prior to that, Whitehead was a VP at GolinHarris, where she led national and global communications strategies for McDonald's, including the fast-food company's program for the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing. She began her PR career at Flowers in 2000 as an assistant account executive.

Flowers' goal is to grow to a mid-sized firm within the next 18 to 24 months, according to a statement. The firm also plans to expand into sectors such as beauty and cosmetics, travel and tourism, and CPG, Whitehead said.

Welch founded Flowers in 1991. Clients include the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, McDonald's, MillerCoors, Sears Holdings, Wells Fargo, and Illinois Department of Transportation.

"Over the past several years, there has been an evolution in the conversation around multicultural and what that means," Whitehead said. "We certainly have a leadership role in that."

Whitehead was named to PRWeek's 40 Under 40 list in 2009.

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