The 50 most powerful women in PR - Women outnumber men in the PR field, but there are still few at the very top. Just how long will it take for the glass ceiling to shatter? Rebecca Flass investigates

Women dominate men in PR. At least statistically they do, with twice as many women joining the profession as men, according to the 1998 Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey. Given these figures, one would expect that women would hold the majority of senior management positions.

Women dominate men in PR. At least statistically they do, with twice as many women joining the profession as men, according to the 1998 Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey. Given these figures, one would expect that women would hold the majority of senior management positions.

Women dominate men in PR. At least statistically they do, with

twice as many women joining the profession as men, according to the 1998

Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey. Given these

figures, one would expect that women would hold the majority of senior

management positions.

A quick look at the top US agencies by 1998 fee income tells a different

story. There are no female CEOs in the top 10 PR agencies. Admittedly

there are more in the next 10: Andy Cunningham of Cunningham

Communications; Melissa Waggener Zorkin of Waggener Edstrom, Marijean

Lauzier of The Weber Group. You’ll also find CEOs of practice groups:

Diane Perlmutter of Cohn & Wolfe/New York and Rose Ann Anschuetz of Cohn

& Wolf/Chicago.

The Os don’t have it

But generally, in the ’O’ class (CEOs, COOs and CFOs) women are woefully

under represented. Take a look at the structure of the top agencies. At

Fleishman-Hillard, men fill the top four slots. After that come the

regional presidents. Two out of eight of these are female: Elizabeth

Solberg in the Midwest and Janise Murph in the Southwest.

Ketchum has seven partners in its management team, two of whom are

women: Lorraine Thelian, senior partner/US and Lori Kafafian,

partner/global HR.

At Hill & Knowlton, women fare a little better. The chairman and CEO are

male, but two of the practice leaders are female - Shellie Winkler,

director, global healthcare and pharmaceutical practice, and Jonelle

Birney, president/CEO Blanc & Otus and head, H&K global technology

practice. Maureen Blanc and Simone Otus serve as her co-directors.

Additionally, two of H&K’s five core service leaders are women: Julie

Johnson, senior managing director/ director of the US media services

practice and Pamela Fields, US director of marketing communications.

But of the agency’s nine general managers, only two are female: Sarah

Peterson in Houston and the previously mentioned Birney at B&O.

At Burson-Marsteller, there are only two women on the worldwide

leadership team: Celia Berk, managing director/HR and Barbara Smith,

chief creative officer. Three out of nine of the US leadership team are

women: Cynthia Hudson, practice chair/public affairs in Washington;

Barbara Engel, managing director of HR/US and Leslie Gaines Ross, chief

knowledge officer/US.

Women hold approximately half of BSMG’s senior management positions,

according to BSMG Worldwide president Jack Leslie, but only three have a

voice on the eight-person board: Barbara Molotsky, president of the

agency’s Chicago office, managing partner Ranny Cooper and Sheri

Benjamin, president of Benjamin BSMG.

Women make a reasonably good showing at Porter Novelli - although there

is still nobody in the elusive ’O’ class - with five female EVPs:

Merrill Rose, account practice and development; Helen Ostrowski, GM New

York; Katherine Bremner, GM Atlanta; Victoria Goldstein, GM Boca Raton

and Barbara Parksky, GM Los Angeles. In fact, the female GMs outnumber

the male - men head only the DC, Chicago and San Francisco offices.

So why are there so many more men than women in top PR positions? ’It’s

not because opportunities don’t exist,’ says Chris Komisarjevsky,

Burson’s (male) worldwide CEO. ’It’s 60 women to 40 men at the entry

level. As you move higher into the organization, women decide there are

other things they want to do and the proportions change. There are women

starting agencies, having families, deciding to make lifestyle


Andy Cunningham believes the absence of female leadership at

long-established agencies is due to the fact that men filled senior

positions years ago.

Newer agencies have been able to hire women from the start.

’I don’t think there’s any intent or spirit not to include women,’ says

Cunningham. ’If you have a guy who’s been a successful leader for 10

years, and the guy after him has been in line for 10 years, too, the

succession of leadership takes a long time.’

In addition, many agencies have lost their top women to


At H&K, former New York general manager Mary Ann Keating was snatched up

by Barnes & Noble. Donna Peterman, who headed its corporate practice,

went to Paine Webber. Kathryn Bushkin, head of the media practice, moved

on to AOL. The same thing has happened at GCI, where the former head of

the New York office, Valerie Di Maria, was lured away by GE Capital.

’There are still people who don’t think a woman can do the job as well

as a man, no question,’ says Di Maria, VP of corporate public relations

and advertising at GE Capital. ’Women just have to go in and steamroll

over them.’

Marina Maher, president of Marina Maher Communications in New York,


’I think there is a glass ceiling, but it’s cracked. In three to five

years, it will shatter.’

Early stumbling blocks

Most of the women in PRWeek’s survey say they haven’t felt discriminated

against. But these are women who have succeeded. They hold major

positions at agencies and corporations. They have served as press

secretaries to key political figures. They have started their own

successful agencies, overseen crisis communications operations and led

companies through M&As and IPOs. However, a few have stories about

stumbling blocks they faced early in their careers.

’The market for women has changed significantly from the 1960s,’ says

Sheila Tate, president, Powell Tate. ’I was the first female AE in

Burson’s Pittsburgh office in 1966. They were nervous about hiring me,

and they had to clear it with the client.’

H&K’s Birney admits she spent the first three years of her career trying

to break out of being a secretary.

Many women cite Carly Fiorina’s recent appointment as president and CEO

of Hewlett-Packard as an indication that the tide is turning,

particularly since she was once president of corporate relations at


And while women may not be in the top slots at the big agencies right

now, Weber Group president and CEO Marijean Lauzier says that will


’In the top 20, there’s a second tier of senior management who have

grown up in the past decade to become terrific crafts people, strong

business leaders and deeply experienced managers in key leadership

roles,’ she says.

This is true of agencies such as Fleishman-Hillard, which has several

female regional presidents waiting in the wings, including Elizabeth

Solberg and Janise Murphy. Ogilvy PR also has Marcia Silverman as

president of the agency’s DC office and Nancy Rueth as managing director

of the New York office.

Demand outweighs supply

According to Rueth, there are now more opportunities for women to get

ahead in PR, as the demand for talented professionals outweighs the pool

of people qualified to fill those slots.

’In another 10 years you’ll see more and more women, and Burson and Hill

& Knowlton will be headed by women,’ predicts Tate. ’Washington is a

good example of the enormous progress being made. A lot of public

affairs offices are headed by women, and strong positions on the Hill

are headed by women.’

On the agency side, many women who achieved senior management levels

have founded their own firms. Alongside Tate, Cunningham and Maher,

other examples are Melissa Waggener Zorkin of Waggener Edstrom, Maura

FitzGerald of FitzGerald Communications, Lois Paul of Lois Paul &

Partners and Carol Cone of Cone.

Many female PR entrepreneurs have become leaders at larger firms due to

M&As. The list includes Susan Thomas of Ketchum Thomas, Lauzier of Neva

Group (now part of The Weber Group), Pam Alexander of Alexander Ogilvy,

Sheri Benjamin of Benjamin BSMG and Blanc & Otus partners Maureen Blanc

and Simone Otus, whose agency is now part of Hill & Knowlton.

’What a lot of large agencies look for is a demonstrated ability to

build an organization in a fast-paced, high-growth environment,’ says

Thomas, president of Silicon Valley firm Ketchum Thomas. When Thomas

Associates was acquired by Ketchum two years ago, she retained her title

as president and also became a partner and director of Ketchum’s global

technology practice.

Women have been particularly successful in the hi-tech sector. Our top

50 includes representatives from consumer marketing, cause-related

marketing and other sectors. But the list is dominated by hi-tech,

taking up more than 20% of the slots. Several well-known names,

including Maureen Blanc and Simone Otus, Helen Vollmer, Susan Butenhoff

and Paula Mae Schwartz, narrowly missed the cut, partly for reasons of

balance. Nevertheless, sectors like healthcare and crisis communications

remain disappointingly underrepresented in our top 50.

Hi-tech success

Andy Cunningham attributes the prominence of women in hi-tech to the

open-mindedness of Silicon Valley, where she opened her office in


’It’s one place where there wasn’t a glass ceiling, which I think is

very reflective of the whole attitude of Silicon Valley,’ says

Cunningham. ’Race and age has never mattered here - you could be gay,

straight, male, female, barefoot. It’s a place where women could grow

and become something.’

Yet, despite the abundance of technology corporations which seem to

favor women - and the increasing importance placed on PR as a strategic

function - there is still an absence of women leaders on the corporate

side. Only 16 (32%) of our top 50 are from corporations.

Susan Thomas believes this is partly a function of the way corporations

are structured. ’I think the more male-dominated corporations lag behind

agencies in giving women the top spot,’ she says. ’And a number of

technology companies are slow to create VP level positions in


Women who work inside corporate communications departments disagree that

they are out-ranked by men, however. ’Females are over-represented,’

says Roberta Bowman, VP of public affairs/chief communications officer

for Duke Energy in Charlotte, NC, where women comprise two-thirds of the

20-person in-house team. ’Public relations is an area where corporations

can add balance in diversity.’

However, Andy Cunningham cautions against corporations filling positions

with women just to diversify the workplace. ’One of the worst things is

having a woman in a spot she can’t handle - it sets the women’s movement

back. I hope that when people put women in management ranks, as they

should do, there will be the same bar for men and women.’

Rebecca Madeira, SVP of public affairs for PepsiCo in Purchase, NY,

holds the most senior PR position within the company and says she has

never experienced discrimination. She says that being female is

sometimes an advantage.

GE Capital’s Di Maria agrees. ’Sometimes men who have a reputation for

being very tough to work for are nicer to you if you are a woman,’ says

Di Maria. ’It’s probably chauvinistic, but it works in our favor.’

While women within agencies have a much better shot at becoming a CEO

than women on the corporate side, Duke Energy’s Bowman says it can


’We have been a very successful feeder organization for Duke Energy, and

in the past one or two years people have been able to enter more

directly the lines of business,’ she says. ’The challenge is

transferring the soft skills of PR into the hard skills of


Lauzier believes the status of female PR people in corporations depends

on the importance placed on PR as a function.

’In a client organization that values PR, those individuals are seen as

more of the inner circle,’ says Lauzier. ’Mich Mathews of Microsoft is

clearly a strategic part of the leadership team. In other organizations

that value PR in a less strategic function, it’s clearly more difficult

for women or men to be seen as leaders.’

Even in areas that have traditionally been dominated by men, women are

making inroads. ’There is absolutely no stigma here about gender,’ says

Kate Rohrbach, SVP of corporate communications for Charles Schwab, which

she says is unique in the financial services industry.

Women are also succeeding in creative fields such as the film


’For whatever reason, publicists tend to be predominantly female,’ says

Marcy Granata, president of publicity and corporate communications for

Miramax Films in New York. She says the industry is more open to giving

younger employees responsibility. She credits powerful women such as PMK

founder Pat Kingsley as having paved the way for female publicists.

Of course there are a number of other reasons why the glass ceiling may

still exist. Of the women PRWeek spoke with, roughly half are combining

careers with families and children.

’Corporate America, until very recently, hasn’t been sensitive to the

needs of women, who retain the bulk of home responsibilities,’ says

Thomas, who has a child.

Andy Cunningham didn’t even take maternity leave after giving birth to

her two children. ’When you own your own company, you can’t do it,’ she


Looking for latitude

Another issue may be that when focusing on the chemistry between agency

and client, gender biases in corporations may be mirrored by


One PR pro says agencies often present clients with the gender they

think will work best. And with more men than women involved in issues

management, public affairs and investor relations, larger assignments in

those fields often go to men, helping them move up the ladder.

So how can a woman rise to the top? Those who have succeeded recommend

paying less attention to job title and more to finding a job that

provides latitude and freedom. Select employers who recognize the

contributions of women and don’t let others define your boundaries.

’Be patient,’ advises PepsiCo’s Madeira. ’Today, there’s so much talent

and so many industries, it’s important to get multiple experiences early

on. Get to know the business, the issues and the people in it. Be a good

sounding board when needed and a good barometer of public opinion when

called for.’

Tate adds: ’The only way to get ahead is to earn it, and it clears the

way for the next generation to earn it. You can sit and whine about it

or you can just do it.’

- Additional research by Fal Mehta. The PRWeek Top 50 Most Powerful

Women in PR was chosen by a panel which included representatives from

the agency and corporate side, from two industry trade associations, a

leading recruitment consultant and PRWeek. The final 50 were selected

from more than 250 nominations.


COMPANY: Alexander Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

TITLE: President and CEO

Founder of Alexander Communications, Pam Alexander reigns supreme over

the hi-tech PR kingdom of Silicon Valley, and has been named one of the

’100 most influential people in the digital age,’ by Upside Magazine for

the past three years. She founded her firm, Alexander Communications in

’87, rising to become Marketing Computers PR Agency of the Year in


Ogilvy bought the firm in ’98, renaming it Alexander Ogilvy. As CEO of

the new firm, Alexander has attracted big name clients such as IBM and

Ascend Communications. Alexander also serves on the Board of Directors

of the Technology Network, a public policy organization.


COMPANY: America Online

TITLE: Chief communications officer and senior vice president

Kathy Bushkin may head the communications efforts of one of the most

high-profile technology firms in the world, but her career has also

covered politics, journalism and media relations. Before joining AOL she

was head of the national media relations practice at Hill & Knowlton.

Prior to that she spent 12 years as the director of editorial

administration for US News & World Report. She served as Senator Gary

Hart’s press secretary during his senate tenure and during his 1984

presidential campaign. Bushkin is a board member of the International

Women’s Media Foundation, the National Press Foundation and Share Our

Strength, a hunger-relief foundation.


COMPANY: The Benjamin Group

TITLE: President and CEO

It’s not enough that Sheri Benjamin consistently delivers results for

clients such as Toshiba, Mentor Graphics and Conexant. She also strives

to be one of the industry’s most caring employers. On-site child care

and flex time are designed to help parents juggle their lives, while

staff also benefit from exercise programs and summer hours. Other

innovations including Jammin U, a training university and Keep Smart, an

education reimbursement program. The agency was named by Working Mother

magazine as one of the best 100 companies in America for working mothers

in 1997 and 1998. Her company was recently bought by the highly

acquisitive BSMG.


COMPANY: Cone Communications


Committed to social change, this lady has set herself apart in the world

of cause-related marketing and strategic philanthropy. The founder of

Cone Communications, Cone has engineered key programs for the

Kimberly-Clark’s playground initiative and for Reebok human rights

issues. She has also been credited with linking Avon’s name with their

Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade and helping Ryka establish the ROSE

Foundation to prevent domestic violence. A Boston University graduate,

she has won the Alumni Award for Distinguished Service to the

Profession, as well as Reputation Management’s 1995 All-Star in Social

Responsibility. Her firm has been named one of the top 10 creative

agencies for the past seven years.


COMPANY: Blanc & Otus

TITLE: President & CEO, and Hill & Knowlton global technology practice


Jonelle Birney is one of a select group helping to move the technology

sector forward in the face of demands for a more broad-based


She is currently expanding the agency’s capabilities into the fields of

public policy counseling, investor relations and international

communications.Birney began working with technology clients as early as

1983, when she was at Ogilvy & Mather. Prior to joining Blanc & Otus,

she was vice president of public relations at MCI. She has been head of

Hill & Knowlton’s global technology practice since it acquired Blanc &

Otus earlier this year.


COMPANY: Stanton Crenshaw Communications

TITLE: President

Dorothy Crenshaw has developed high-profile and award-winning campaigns

for a range of famous brands. Over the last three years she and her

partner Alex Stanton have built Stanton Crenshaw into one of the most

respected mid-size agencies in the country.Programs she has managed

include those for American Express, Procter & Gamble, M&M/Mars, Sharp

Electronics, Starbucks, Unilever, Pepsi-Cola and Snapple. In recent

years, Crenshaw has also become involved in new media and e-commerce. In

1998 she was named president of Women Executives in PR, the

New York-based organization for senior-level professional women. She is

a frequent speaker on brand building and on marketing to women.


COMPANY: Ruder Finn

TITLE: President

Dr. Bloomgarden’s list of credits as a PR pro is endless. Under her

presidency, Ruder Finn’s revenues have increased by 41% and profits by

100%, and operations in Europe and Asia have mushroomed. Her skills in

the arena of global communications allowed her to successfully handle

the top secret mergers of Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy (forming Novartis), as

well as the BP Amoco merger.

Bloomgarden’s work on the Novartis account landed her both a PR All-Star

and a Silver Anvil. Before assuming her current position, Bloomgarden

founded and was head of Ruder Finn’s HealthCare division, its largest

specialty practice. She has also been key in developing the firm’s

public affairs and policy activities.


COMPANY: Cunningham Communication


Colleagues call Cunningham a ’visionary.’ The fact that she’s grown

Cunningham Communications to the number nine hi-tech PR agency with a

dollars 20.4 million income, lends credence to that claim. Technology

start-ups battle to be included on her roster of high-profile clients,

yet she believes in limiting the number of clients to offer a more

personal service. Cunningham celebrates her firm’s 14th birthday this

year, boasting blue-chip clients such as Cisco, Motorola,

Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Novell. Prior to founding her own firm,

Cunningham worked for Regis McKenna where she helped launch the Mac. She

has served as chairman of the Young President’s Association.

Northern California Chapter.


COMPANY: The Bohle Company

TITLE: President

Fast approaching her 30th anniversary in PR, colleagues claim that, ’Sue

is THE top woman in PR.’ A pioneer for women in the field, Bohle became

the first woman to be named vice president on the West Coast at J.

Walter Thompson PR in 1976, and a year later, the first female general

manager of an international PR firm. Ten days after the birth of her

second child in 1979, Bohle started her own firm, which was quickly

pursued and bought by Ketchum, who named Bohle head of the LA office.

She later moved on to start the second Bohle Company, which is currently

in the Top 50 independent agencies, and Top 20 technology agencies.



TITLE: Vice president, corporate public relations and advertising

Currently responsible for corporate and marketing PR programs,

advertising and customer events worldwide for GE Capital, Valerie Di

Maria also serves on the company’s Leadership Council. As president of

GCI, she helped the firm break into the top 10 global list of PR

agencies for the first time in 1996 and worked with clients such as

Westinghouse/CBS, Pharmacia & Upjohn and M&M/Mars. Before GCI, she was

PR director at Bristol-Myers Squibb and an SVP at Porter Novelli. She

has won Silver Anvils for the Tang March Across America for Mothers

Against Drunk Driving and the introduction of SkyTel’s two-way paging

service and Inside PR honored her as one of the ’Ten Agency



COMPANY: M. Booth & Associates

TITLE: President

Listed in the Who’s Who of American Women, Margaret Booth is undoubtedly

one of the most respected operators in her field. Her highly regarded

full-service agency has won numerous plaudits, including several Silver

Anvil Awards from the PRSA and the Big Apple Award from the society’s

New York chapter. Booth herself has been lauded several times during her

career. She is the recipient of the 1987 Women in Communications Matrix

Award for career advancement in PR and was inducted into the YWCA’s

Academy of Women Achievers in 1985.


COMPANY: Waggener Edstrom

TITLE: Executive vice president and partner

Pam Edstrom was recently listed among the top 100 most influential

people in the digital world by Upside Magazine (December 1998), which

described her as a PR ’diva.’ Alongside her partner Melissa Waggener

Zorkin, Edstrom has used her experience in technology PR to develop

Waggener Edstrom into one of the leading hi-tech operations, with

revenues of dollars 40 million in 1998. Edstrom’s career spans 25 years.

Before joining Waggener she played a key role in the development of the

first PR team at Microsoft, where she was director of PR from 1982 to

1984. Prior to that she worked as PR manager at Tektronix.


COMPANY: Duke Energy Corp.

Title: Vice president of public affairs and chief communications


Roberta Bowman’s achievements at Duke Energy have consolidated her

position as a highly respected corporate PR professional. She steered

communications behind the company’s transformation from a regulated

regional company to a Fortune 100 energy business. She led PR supporting

Duke Power’s merger with PanEnergy in 1997. She has handled acquisitions

and crises - notably a steam explosion at a nuclear plant and power

outages in the wake of freak weather conditions - and has been heavily

involved in strategy and policy. Away from the workplace, Bowman is

co-chair on the executive committee of the 2001 US Women’s Open, the

prestigious golf event for women.


COMPANY: Hill & Knowlton

TITLE: Senior managing director and US director of marketing


Pamela Fields instinctively blends management consultancy with strategic

PR skills to deliver impressive results for clients. After a career

managing successful businesses, she believes a company’s success is

inextricably linked with its communication and marketing strategy. Prior

to joining Hill & Knowlton in 1998, she ran her own management

consultancy, Fieldwork Inc, where her clients included Gap

International, the Bulova Watch Company and a subsidiary of the Timex

Corporation, for which she developed and implemented a successful

turnaround plan. Her previous posts included president of the US

subsidiary of Tag-Heuer.


COMPANY: Manning, Selvage & Lee

TITLE: Worldwide director, strategic planning

As worldwide account director for Procter & Gamble, Monita Buchwald is

in charge of one of the most sought-after slices of business in the PR

industry. She is also one of the profession’s most forward-looking

operators, stressing the importance of global strategic planning,

supervising knowledge management and research, and overseeing the

agency’s online communications service.

Buchwald joined the agency in 1980 and has since held a series of

increasingly high profile positions. She became joint managing director

of the New York office after heading its healthcare department.

In 1993 Buchwald was elected to the YWCA’s Academy of Women



COMPANY: FitzGerald Communications

TITLE: President and CEO

Maura FitzGerald launched her own hi-tech PR operation in 1994 with

’three executives and a dog,’ according to one employee. By the end of

1998, the company boasted 60 executives and claimed revenues of nearly

dollars 9 million from Internet and mainstream technology clients. With

more than 20 years’ experience in journalism and PR, FitzGerald was

previously a vice president of Hill & Knowlton and general manager of

the firm’s New England office, with clients including Sony America and

Digital Equipment Corp. Earlier she launched Cunningham’s East Coast

office. She has also written for The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald and

USA Today.



TITLE: Manager of corporate public affairs

Fowler is credited with overseeing external communications for the

largest IPO in US history, for which energy company Conoco raised

dollars 4.4 billion.

Since joining Conoco in 1983, she has risen through the ranks as

director of PR, public affairs supervisor for parent company DuPont and

special assistant and speechwriter for Conoco’s President and CEO

Constantine Nicandros. This communications all-star has also won the top

award from the British Association of Industrial Editors for employee

publications, three national film awards, including the CINE Golden

Eagle for a Conoco documentary film on Alaskan oil and under her

leadership, Conoco’s public affairs group won a 1999 Excalibur Award

from the Houston chapter of the PRSA.


COMPANY: Weber Public Relations Worldwide

TITLE: Executive vice president, strategic operations

Chief of strategic operations Cathy Lugbauer rocketed Weber PR’s income

from dollars 15 million to dollars 83 million in three years. She has

spearheaded the development of WeberWorks, a PR operating system, a

suite of Internet based applications and of Weber’s interactive

communications practice.

Previously, Lugbauer held a similar position at The Weber Group, where

she attracted Fortune 1000 clients. She began her career as head of

Creamer Dickson Basford’s New York office, leading a turnaround that

resulted in strong growth rates and award-winning programs. Lugbauer is

credited with revitalizing PRSA’s award programs, redesigning the Silver

Anvil awards judging process and ceremony.


COMPANY: Miramax Films

TITLE: President of publicity and corporate communications

Promoting the big screen has spelled big success for Granata, who

assumed her position after serving as EVP of marketing and publicity for

Miramax for the past five years. Granata spearheaded Miramax’s publicity

driven film campaigns and corporate publicity, partnering with Mark

Gill, president of Miramax/LA to promote more than 35 films per year,

including Pulp Fiction, The English Patient, and Life is Beautiful.

Prior to Miramax, Granata spent six years in the marketing departments

of Columbia and TriStar Pictures, where she led publicity campaigns for

such films and filmmakers as Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence,

Robert Redford’s A River Runs Through It, and Francis Ford Coppola’s



COMPANY: Navistar

TITLE: Vice president, corporate communications

Vice president of corporate communications Maril MacDonald wears two

hats: she is also the CEO of Matha MacDonald, a corporate consulting

firm she founded with Robert Matha,which lists Navistar as one of its

premier clients. CEO of Navistar, John Horne says that Matha and

MacDonald have been ’the driving forces’ behind the company’s cultural

turnaround. MacDonald was previously vice president of communications

for Mallinckrodt Veterinary, held several communications posts at Bayer

USA and was vice president of Watt, Roop& Co. Inside PR recognized her

as a ’PR All Star’ and she currently serves on the Board of Trustees of

the Arthur Page Society.


COMPANY: Southwest Airlines

TITLE: Vice president public relations, employee communications and

corporate information.

The fantastic reputation of Southwest Airlines is in no small part due

to Ginger Hardage. Described by Colleen Barrett, EVP of Southwest

Airlines, as ’truly one of our shining stars at Southwest Airlines’

Hardage is someone they wish they could clone. Hardage, a 20-year PR

vet, joined Southwest Airlines in 1990 and recently won the Texas Public

Relations Association’s annual Lone Star Award. She was also named an

outstanding alumni by Texas Tech University. Previously, Hardage held a

variety of PR positions at Maxus Energy. Her work has gained significant

attention, judging by the ’constant job offers’ that Barrett says

Hardage receives. She has certainly come a long way from her first

paying job of mowing cemeteries.



TITLE: Senior vice president, public affairs

A 21-year veteran of PepsiCo, Rebecca Madeira has nursed the company

through some of its most historical moments. A first-hand witness of the

cola wars, she began her career at Pepsi in ’77 as PR manager, and was

subsequently PR director and VP of Public Affairs. Currently, Madeira

oversees the company’s handling of a quarter of a million consumer

communications through their 800 number, and manages legislative,

scientific, and regulatory issues affecting the company. Previously, she

worked at American Home Products Corporation and the US Department of

Justice. She was named one of the ’Women Who Make a Difference’ by

Minorities and Women in Business magazine, and a ’PR All-Star’ by Inside



COMPANY: Shandwick

TITLE: CEO, Shandwick Americas and managing director, Shandwick


Mary Jeffries is the highest-ranking woman in Shandwick International,

which in itself makes her one of the most prominent women in PR. She

oversees the management of Shandwick’s financial, technology, human

resources, client services and learning functions and is a member of the

organization’s Global Management Team, which manages the firm’s business

worldwide. Additionally, Jeffries co-manages Shandwick’s largest office

and manages the operations of the Americas region. She has been

instrumental in using new technology to link the network’s offices

around the world.

Before joining Shandwick, she was in finance at Fairview Hospital and

Healthcare Service.


COMPANY: Marina Maher Communications

TITLE: President

As the founder of Marina Maher Communications, Maher is the driving

force behind one of the faster-growing agencies today. Since its

inception in 1983, MMC has bagged high-profile clients such as Coca

Cola, Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson and The Estee

Lauder Companies.

Maher’s 1990 WonderBra splash not only won the major PR awards that

year, but sold one bra every 15 seconds on the first day. Previously,

Maher was director of public relations for Charles of the Ritz Group.

Maher created the television and radio department of the Men’s Fashion

Association and she currently sits on the Board of Directors of the

Fashion Group.


COMPANY: Barnes & Noble

TITLE: Senior VP corporate communications

Mary Ellen Keating’s PR experience has run the gamut from serving as

chief spokesperson for Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey, to executive

vice president at Hill & Knowlton. Currently, she handles all

communication activities for the Barnes & Noble/ B.Dalton retail stores,

as well as for the phenomenally successful web site, barnesandnoble.

com. She has also managed media relations for Pennsylvania’s ’America

Starts Here’ tourism efforts, and launched a statewide recycling

education campaign.

Keating began her communications career as an evening news anchor at

local affiliates of NBC in Pennsylvania, gaining national recognition

when she landed an interview with the Iranian hostages.


COMPANY: Microsoft

TITLE: Vice president, corporate communications

As VP of corporate communications of perhaps the world’s most powerful

corporations Mich Mathews holds one of the highest posts in the public

relations industry. She is a part of all the key product launches, runs

the company’s messaging, PR and advertising, and oversees key events

like Bill Gates’s speeches. Mathews first started working with Microsoft

while she was at Text 100 in the UK, her first job out of college. She

joined Microsoft as an employee in 1993 to head its two-person corporate

PR group.

Mathews’ rise to stardom started early - after two years at General

Motors marketing, they sponsored her college degree.



TITLE: President and founding partner

Founder of PMK, Pat Kingsley is one of the most powerful women in

Hollywood PR, guarding some of its biggest stars, movies and secrets.

The legendary publicist currently represents Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman,

Tom Hanks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Al Pacino, Demi Moore, Jodie Foster,

Richard Gere and has handled the PR for high-profile movies like Eyes

Wide Shut, The Piano, The Firm, and Pulp Fiction, to name only a few.

Kingsley began her career as publicist for Rogers & Cowan, leaving them

to form Pickwick PR with two partners, later merging it with another

firm to form PMK. Kingsley’s agency has now been in business for over 20

years and has become the leader in entertainment PR.


COMPANY: Dow Chemical Company

TITLE: Global vice president, public affairs

Public affairs has been Elin Miller’s playground for the last two

decades, and judging by her prestigious list of positions and awards,

she’s played quite hard. Global VP of public affairs, Miller also leads

the Public Policy Leadership Team, which manages Dow’s overall advocacy

and issues management process. Previously, she was global leader of

government and public affairs at Dow AgroSciences. Miller has also

served as the director of the Department of Conservation and chief

deputy director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, to

name only a few of her posts. Miller has won the Outstanding

Contribution to Agriculture Award, the Award of Excellence in Regulatory

Leadership, and the Lea S. Hitchner Award.


COMPANY: APCO Associates

TITLE: Founder, president and CEO

Margery Kraus founded her small Washington, DC, agency in 1984. Since

then, APCO has grown to become one of the leading names in the fields of

public affairs, government relations, strategic communications and

international business. Bought out by Grey Advertising/GCI in 1991, APCO

now has offices in London, Brussels, Canada, Moscow and Asia - enabling

Kraus to help her clients enter developing markets such as Eastern

Europe and Asia Pacific. Prior to founding APCO, Kraus assisted in the

creation and development of the Close Up Foundation, a multi-million

dollar educational foundation sponsored in part by the US Congress. She

is still involved in voluntary activities in Washington and



COMPANY: University of Portland

TITLE: Director of public relations and information services

As well as being a leading PR counselor, educator and researcher, Debra

Miller-Carter has broken new ground for African-Americans in the


In 1997, she became president of the PRSA, making her the first

African-American and only the second educator to head the organization.

Prior to joining the University of Portland to direct its integrated

marketing efforts, she was assistant dean at the School of Journalism

and Mass Communication at Florida International University and also a

tenured professor in the department of advertising and mass relations.

An expert on cultural diversity in the communications industry, she is

the author of numerous articles on the subject, as well as the book

Multicultural Communication: An Annotated Bibliography.


COMPANY: The Weber Group

TITLE: President and CEO

Named president and CEO of The Weber Group after the firm acquired her

own agency, Neva Group in 1997, Marijean Lauzier has attracted

partnerships from powerhouse brands like Gateway, 3Com, Hitachi and

Ernst & Young.

Under her leadership, the firm has created a scalable business model for

technology companies, offering ’Signature,’ a market positioning

methodology for corporations, and ’Hemispheres,’ a model for global


Lauzier has been with Weber since 1990, leaving temporarily in 1993 to

found Neva Group, and has handled accounts like Lotus Development Group,

and Xerox. She was previously vice president of marketing at the Faxon

Company, and vice president at Holt & Ross.


COMPANY: BSMG Worldwide/Midwest

TITLE: President

Barbara Molotsky is the name behind some of the most high-profile

consumer PR programs in recent years, from the Milk Mustache campaign to

’Pork, the other white meat.’ Under her leadership BSMG has attracted

clients such as The Quaker Oats Company, Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble,

Harley-Davidson, Campbell’s Soup, General Mills and Sara Lee


Molotsky joined BSMG in 1988 as general manager of the Chicago office

and is now responsible for both the Chicago and Dallas offices. She was

previously senior vice president/ managing director of the Chicago

office of Hill & Knowlton. She began her career as manager of press,

radio and television for Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center.


COMPANY: Genetech

TITLE: VP, Corporate Communications

In a career spanning 15 years, Laura Leber has counseled most of the

leading pharmaceutical companies including Procter & Gamble, Smith Kline

& French, Beecham Laboratories, Searle and Bayer. Recently promoted to

VP, corporate communications, she has developed the Identity Building

Program to manage corporate issues such as the Department of Justice

settlement, University of California patent infringement lawsuit and

issues related to the breast cancer drug Herceptin. Previously, she

worked at both Fleishman Hillard and Hill&Knowlton with their major

healthcare clients.

She is currently chair of the Communications Committee of the

Biotechnology Industry Organization.


COMPANY: The New York Times

TITLE: Vice president, corporate communications

A 24-year media veteran, Nancy Nielsen has risen inexorably through the

ranks at The NYT, beginning in ’86 as deputy director, then director,

and finally vice president. As key spokesperson, Nielsen is the ’voice’

of the company, and has pioneered the ’one voice’ policy to ensure the

consistency of the Times’ messages. Nielsen began as a journalist,

having worked in several editorial positions at the Dallas Times Herald,

later making the switch to PR as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, a

management consulting firm. She then moved on to the post of director at

the Office of Communication at Capital Cities/ABC. A Berkeley graduate,

she received the University of California Alumni Association’s 1974

award for Outstanding Performance in Journalism.


COMPANY: Porter Novelli

TITLE: Executive vice president/general manager

Helen Ostrowski knows how to grow an office. Since taking over as head

of Porter Novelli in New York two years ago, this 25-year PR vet helped

expand the office more than 75% to become the fifth-largest PR agency in

the fiercely competitive New York market. She has also been credited

with improving client and employee retention and gaining additional

business from existing blue-chip clients such as Gillette, Kellogg’s and


Prior to becoming general manager, Ostrowski headed Porter Novelli’s

Health Care Practice, where she increased revenues from dollars 4

million to nearly dollars 10 million in four years. She’s sure to remain

a strong figure as she strengthens Porter Novelli’s operations.


COMPANY: Fleishman-Hillard

TITLE: Regional president and senior partner

Overseeing four offices, Elizabeth Solberg is credited with bringing up

the Kansas City office from its infant stages in 1977 to a full-blown

firm, which is one of the top 25 agencies in the country today. A senior

partner, Solberg also co-chairs the global management committee, and is

handling the firm’s expansion into Canada. An expert in corporate

counseling and issues management, she implements programs for some of

the firm’s largest clients, including BASF, Hoechst Marion Roussel,

Hallmark Cards, H&R Block, Applebee’s and Southwestern Bell. In the

non-profit sector, Solberg turned around the image of the Boy Scouts of

America, boosting severely declining membership rates. She was former

national membership chairman of the PRSA.


COMPANY: Procter & Gamble

TITLE: Global public affairs officer

Charlotte Otto plays an influential role in a company that is highly

aware of the need to control its corporate identity, as well as consumer

perception of its numerous brands. Otto is responsible for the company’s

public affairs worldwide, a post which embraces media relations, product

publicity, consumer relations, employee and shareholder communications,

community relations and corporate contributions. She has also shown

tremendous loyalty to the company, joining in 1976 in a brand management

role. She spent 13 years in the advertising department, working on

brands such as Sure, Pert, Bounty and Always. She moved into public

affairs in 1989.


COMPANY: Stoorza, Zeigus & Metzger

TITLE: Chairman and CEO

Gail Stoorza-Gill founded Stoorza, Zeigus & Metzger just before her 30th

birthday with two employees, two clients, a dollars 2000 line of credit

and one thought: ’I can do this better.’ Today, the agency is

celebrating its 25th year and has become California’s largest

independent PR firm, with dollars 11 million in gross billings in ’98.

She was the first woman chairman of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce

and the only woman to qualify for the Young Presidents’ Organization,

Las Californias chapter. The list of boards she serves on is long, as is

the range of awards, but most notably, she was honored as a ’Woman of

Vision’ by the league of Women Voters, and received the ’88 Equal

Opportunity Award from the Urban League of San Diego.


COMPANY: Lois Paul & Partners

TITLE: Founder and CEO

Lois Paul is a key member of a group of women CEOs leading cutting-edge

technology PR firms. A journalist-turned-PR professional, she served as

senior editor of software at Computerworld and then as a founding member

of PCWeek. Her combination of media savvy and strategic thinking has

attracted clients such as Lotus Development Corporation, Tivoli Systems,

Parametric Technology Corporation and Hypercom International.

Additionally, Paul is described as an accessible and inspiring boss who

often serves as a mentor to her staff.


COMPANY: Edelman Public Relations Worldwide

Title: President and chief operating officer

As president and a 27-year veteran of Edelman, Talbot oversees 14

domestic offices and 1,000 employees. She wears two hats, also serving

as the manager of the firm’s Worldwide Convergence Marketing Team, which

aids technical companies inform consumers as products move into the mass


A specialist in consumer products marketing, she has provided senior

counsel to Fortune 500 companies, and has led the company’s work on big

name accounts such as Microsoft, Kraft Foods, KFC and The NutraSweet

Company. She has been recognized as a PR All-Star in the consumer

products field by Inside PR magazine and has won three Silver Anvil

Awards and several Golden Trumpet Awards from the Publicity Club of



COMPANY: Cohn & Wolfe

TITLE: Vice chairman/ CEO, New York

A marketing guru, Diane Perlmutter has created and managed multi-million

dollar accounts in a range of marketing disciplines. Previously, as COO

of Burson- Marsteller, she worked on some of the firm’s biggest accounts

including Gerber, Post Cereals, Kraft Foods, NutraSweet, Mexico

Department of Tourism and the New York State Lottery, to name only a

few. Perlmutter was also one of two women on Burson’s executive

committee. Previously, she served as vice president of advertising and

campaign marketing at Avon Products, where she handled Avon Venezuela

and Avon Puerto Rico.

Perlmutter was the 1996 recipient of the YAI Award for Achievement in

the Communications Industry, and is an expert contributor to the book

303 Marketing Tips.


COMPANY: Powell Tate

TITLE: President

With strong beltway connections and a presidential slot of her own at a

top Washington, DC public affairs firm, Tate is one of Washington’s

leading ladies. Her list of credentials includes serving as White House

press secretary to First Lady Nancy Reagan in 1981-85 and to

President-elect George Bush in 1988-89, as well as communications

director for the 1996 GOP convention for Dole-Kemp in San Diego. Tate

also recently completed two five-year terms on the Board of the

Corporation for Public Broadcasting, appointed by Presidents Reagan and

Bush, is an officer and director of the National Press Foundation and is

on the board of advisors of the International Women’s Media



COMPANY: Paine Webber

TITLE: Senior VP and director of corporate communications

As director of corporate communications, Donna Peterman, has turned

around Paine Webber’s image as a prime acquisition target. Under her

leadership, the financial firm is now seen as ’Alive and Kicking,’

according to Fortune.

Building a team of 20, she has created an internal PR department and has

conceived the company’s first marketing initiative targeting women


Peterman has also created PaineWebber NOW, a monthly employee magazine

and serves as chairman of the Diversity Committee. Peterman has led an

illustrious career in PR, as director of corporate communications for

both Sears Roebuck and Dean Witter. She then moved on to serve in

several high posts at Hill & Knowlton, leaving the firm as executive

managing director.


COMPANY: Ketchum

TITLE: Senior partner/director

Lorraine Thelian is one of the foremost counselors in the environmental

and health fields. Over 25 years she has lent her issues and crisis

management skills to a range of major corporations and trade

associations. Client concerns have included toxic chemical exposures and

drug litigation situations.

She has developed broad-based public affairs campaigns aimed at

audiences from the general public to the medical and scientific

communities and environmental groups. At Ketchum she helps manage the

agency’s global practices in health, corporate, food and nutrition and

brand marketing.

She is a frequent speaker and has addressed groups including the

American Management Association, the US Chamber of Commerce, the

Conference Board and the PRSA.


COMPANY: The Charles Schwab Corporation

Title: Senior vice president and chief communications officer

Kate Rohrbach is a seasoned corporate communications professional. Over

a 20-year career she has built corporate and financial communications

programs for companies in a variety of industries, particularly

financial services. Her specialty is working with companies experiencing

rapid growth and industry change. She joined Schwab in 1997 at the

company’s San Francisco corporate headquarters. She oversees the

company’s overall public relations, employee communications, community

relations and giving and corporate events. She was previously senior

vice president and partner at Fleishman-Hillard, which she joined in



COMPANY: Karakas VanSickle Ouellette (KVO)

TITLE: Chief executive officer

Sharon VanSickle is a pioneer in the white-hot technology PR sector.

Under her leadership KVO has become one of the Pacific Northwest’s

largest agencies and one of the top 20 technology PR firms in the US.

VanSickle set up one of the first web-design groups within a PR agency

in 1994 and established an online public relations department long

before the Internet went mainstream. Prior to founding the agency, she

was PR director for Tektronix, a billion-dollar electronics firm.

VanSickle is also closely involved in her local community. Among other

interests, she serves on the board for Self-Enhancement, a program for

at-risk youth in Portland.


COMPANY: Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

TITLE: Managing director

As managing director of Ogilvy PR Worldwide/New York and during a career

spanning 20 years, Nancy Rueth has advised some of the world’s most

powerful corporations. In addition to her current assignments - which

include counseling ADP and firms - she has lent her talents to

the likes of Digital Equipment, IBM, General Foods, NutraSweet,

Genentech, Perrier, Glaxo Wellcome, Johnson & Johnson and Warner

Lambert. She has also developed campaigns for the US Postal Service and

the US Army.

Rueth began her career as a journalist, first with a women’s shelter

magazine and then with a mechanical engineering journal. She spent 14

years at Burson-Marsteller before joining Ogilvy.


COMPANY: Waggener Edstrom

TITLE: CEO and president

When Melissa Waggener Zorkin founded Waggener Edstrom in 1983, it had

just two employees. Now it has more than 400 staffers and revenues last

year of over dollars 40 million. Along with partner Pam Edstrom,

Waggener Zorkin is regarded as a pioneer in the field of hi-tech PR. She

also has a reputation for developing the PR techniques of the future.

Through the Waggener Edstrom University and numerous seminars and trend

meetings, she is helping to hone some of the sharpest young minds in the

business to a razor edge.

Waggener Zorkin’s career spans 23 years. Before setting up her own

agency, she worked on the Intel and Apple accounts at Regis McKenna.


COMPANY: Ogilvy PR Worldwide

TITLE: President

President of Ogilvy Marcia Silverman has been with the agency since its

birth. Flourishing under her care, the agency has grown from a

six-employee, two account fledgling agency to become one of the top 10

PR firms in Washington, with more than 60 accounts. She has been

credited with introducing MCI into 45 markets and implementing a PR

program for the French Government’s Tourism Office. In the words of

Rebecca Tillet, a former staff member and now director of corporate

communications at Pfizer: ’Marcia has vividly illustrated and embodied

two words: excellence and leadership.’ The Washington Women in PR

organization seems to agree - they honored her as one of three

outstanding women in PR last year.


COMPANY: Ameritech

TITLE: Senior vice president of corporate communications

As an individual whose experience covers the whole range of

communications disciplines, it’s appropriate that Joan Walker should

work at Ameritech.

Her role incorporates every aspect of public relations as well as

corporate marketing and branding, advertising, customer research and

database management.

Walker joined the communications giant in 1996 after her tenure as a

partner at Bozell Sawyer Miller Group. She was previously president and

chief executive officer of Bozell Worldwide Public Relations. She has

also worked at the NYNEX Corporation, a New York-based regional

communications company.

In 1982 she founded her own agency, Richmann and Partners. In 1988 this

was snapped up by Saatchi & Saatchi, where she was executive vice


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