Rebecca Ballard: 40 Under 40 2014

VP and head of external communications, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Age: 34

In an industry where people tend to change companies frequently, Rebecca Ballard has bucked the trend by flourishing at the same firm for 10-plus years.

Last November, she celebrated a decade of working at Hill+Knowlton Strategies by assuming leadership of the agency’s external communications unit, a year after being promoted to VP.

Ballard markets the firm, its practices and leaders, and is its spokesperson and media contact, coordinating internal and external communications throughout the agency’s global network.

A key achievement has been coordinating the late-2013 rollout of H+K’s character research project – which Ballard considers a career highlight.

During her time at the firm, Ballard has supported clients in a wide variety of sectors and industries and has been a critical component in their success.

Her work with Bridgestone Americas is just one example of a longstanding and successful relationship, which led to the launch of the tire company’s young driver safety initiative.

Her efforts there included helping to manage and judge an essay contest that attracted more than 22,000 submissions on teen driver safety, planning events at high schools around the country with brand ambassador and racing legend Mario Andretti, and launching Teens Drive Smart, an online program designed to promote awareness of safe driving.

Through tips, ready-made classroom activities, and interactive online content and social media, the program has reached teenagers, parents, and teachers nationwide.

Such innovative work puts Ballard in a strong position to become a true industry leader, opines Jack Martin, global chairman and CEO at H+K.

"For 10 years, Rebecca has been a loyal, dedicated, and accomplished component of our team," he says. "Her strength is her vision and Rebecca has met and exceeded every responsibility placed in front of her with poise, acumen, and skill."

"She has an eye to the future that is more insightful and informed than many of her more seasoned colleagues," adds Martin.

 

• Ballard earned a master’s degree with distinction from American University’s program in public communications

• She was acknowledged by the American University program director for her research for his first book on capital punishment

• Ballard volunteered as director, VP of the board, and head of communications to a child development center in Washington, DC, with annual revenues in excess of $1 million

• She always strives to find a perfect work-life balance, as along with her role at H+K, she is raising two children

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