Burson ups Cornish from Direct Impact unit to US COO role

The COO job is a newly created role, reporting to US CEO Michael Law.

Nicole Cornish
Nicole Cornish

WASHINGTON: Burson-Marsteller has appointed Nicole Cornish, CEO of its grassroots public affairs subsidiary Direct Impact, to serve as COO for the US, effective immediately.

In the newly created role, Cornish will report to Michael Law, US CEO at Burson. While continuing to be based in Washington, DC, Cornish will focus on Burson’s talent and culture and work with its practice and market leaders to help advance the company.

Law said the COO position was developed to assist the firm as it continues to grow in the US.

"Having me living out on the West Coast and having the majority of our operations on the East Coast required someone of [Cornish’s] caliber to help keep an eye on the business on the East Coast, as well as operations across the country," Law explained.

Cornish, who joined the WPP agency in 2002 and then moved to Direct Impact a year later, also served as EVP for Burson’s US region since October 2012.

"I’ll be making sure the people who currently work at the firm are developing strong career paths, while attracting new talent," Cornish said of her new role.

Following Cornish’s appointment, Direct Impact promoted EVP Connie Partoyan to serve as president. Over the past five years, Partoyan has provided senior counsel to Direct Impact clients and helped with new business development.

Direct Impact is evaluating candidates for the CEO role, and in the meantime Cornish will continue to work with senior execs and key clients to help with the leadership transition.

In addition to enhancing Burson’s corporate and public affairs practices, a priority for next year will be data, analytics, and measurement, Law said.

Cornish, who took the helm of Direct Impact in 2011, worked at Edelman prior to joining Burson 12 years ago, according to her LinkedIn profile.

In July, Burson announced that US CEO Dave DenHerder was going to step down from his role on September 1, with US president Law succeeding him.

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