Kerri Allen: 40 Under 40 2015

VP, director of Infuse cross-cultural practice, Cohn & Wolfe

Cohn & Wolfe tasked Kerri Allen with revving up its Hispanic offering when it hired her in 2011 from Revolución, where she set media relations strategies for HBO, Casio, and Ace Hardware, among others.

Allen had a better and bigger idea. In four short years, she built an entirely new cross-cultural practice, Infuse, and worked tirelessly to "infuse" diversity into the firm’s overall thinking, as well as its clients.

She turned the unit into a multimillion-dollar division and added seven multilingual, multicultural PR professionals to the staff. With inclusion at the center of everything she was building, Allen didn’t forget her colleagues elsewhere in the firm. She taught general
market practitioners to confidently interact with media such as Univision and The Root, while gently cajoling them to get out of their "comfort zones" to embrace a cross-cultural mindset. Infuse staff are scattered throughout the office so everyone benefits from exposure to other languages and styles.

"Kerri is an exuberant force within Cohn & Wolfe, inspiring fresh perspectives among her colleagues and clients. She reinvented the traditional model to ensure our approach to cross-cultural marketing would be differentiating and meaningful," says Liz Beck, EVP, US consumer practice leader at Cohn & Wolfe.

Allen’s passion has led to business success too. She’s helped the firm land major multicultural accounts from brands such as Coca-Cola, United Airlines, Nissan North America, and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Allen’s deep dive into existing accounts helped the firm land multicultural opportunities at clients including Colgate-Palmolive and J.M. Smucker Co. C&W scored several industry rewards for the resulting campaigns, including a PRSA Silver Anvil for Hennessy’s "Never stop. Never settle." work.

"Kerri has built a multicultural offering that has helped drive revenue growth and bring in high-profile clients to the agency," says Jim Joseph, the firm’s chief integrated marketing officer and president of the Americas.

Giving back is a 24/7 credo for Allen. She volunteers at Trinity’s Services and Food for the Homeless in New York City’s East Village neighborhood and lends her time to a number of industry groups, including The Lagrant Foundation’s scholarship selection committee.

- Allen, a former New York Times fellow, flexes her writing chops as a regular blogger for The Huffington Post and a contributor to C&W’s content channels

- Active in PR at the office and in her free time, she’s held leadership positions at the PRSA and the Hispanic Public Relations Association

- A singer, she’s performed solo and with ensembles at New York City venues such as Carnegie Hall, Don’t Tell Mama, and the Galapagos Arts Space

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