With the many challenges and changes facing the PR industry, talent has never been more important. Whether it's handling a crisis, launching a new product, or winning new business, there are many ways for individuals to make contributions. Here, Tanya Lewis profiles professionals, nominated by colleagues, who demonstrate the powerful future of the industry.
Director, corporate relations, NetApp, 39
In four years, Jodi Baumann has built global communications programs for NetApp that have increased its revenue, market share, and industry mindshare. She manages a global network of 22 firms representing 34-plus countries. Baumann's efforts have helped establish NetApp as a force among larger competitors, such as EMC and HP, and her team is now viewed as a partner in helping executive leaders achieve business goals.
Among her other accomplishments, Baumann pioneered a corporate blog and devised social media programs, including ones on Facebook and Twitter. She also created unique customer engagement programs, such as the "NetApp Innovation Awards."
Previously, Baumann held senior PR and marcomms roles at Weber Shandwick and The Benjamin Group.
President and founder, Centurion Strategies, 29
Mere months after completing public affairs training in the US Marine Corps, Michael Bilello established himself as a major talent during the initial Iraq invasion. Under missile fire, with CNN in tow, Bilello went live on air, explaining events and delivering messages about Marine preparedness to millions.
Bilello was honored with numerous service awards and medals and went on to work for MWW Group before founding his Florida-based agency. He has quickly built a strong reputation for launching Internet-based startup companies.
His clients include athletes, celebrities (Sean "Diddy" Combs among them), and CNN. He consults the network on numerous overseas assignments.
Bilello also represents nonprofits and personally volunteers for many of them.
Mary Elizabeth Blake
VP, global human health communications, Merck, 39
In her 17-year career at the pharmaceutical giant, Mary Elizabeth Blake held a variety of leadership positions before being named VP last year. She now creates the communications strategy for a division of 30,000.
Blake has played key roles in Merck's restructuring, which began in 2005 and includes a new sales model. Always calm amid crisis, Blake has managed a number of legal and regulatory issues for the company. She also expanded and improved media relationships and, say colleagues, is credited with "significant improvement in Merck's reputation."
In addition, Blake launched and stewarded a number of high-profile products, including Gardasil and HIV medicines. In 1999, she created a groundbreaking campaign for hair-loss product Propecia.
Global account champion/account director, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, 32
Jennifer Cadmus developed tech expertise at ADC Telecommunications and Jones Cyber Solutions before helping build boutique agency VisiTech PR.
In 2006, Waggener Edstrom hired her to lead a new AOR relationship with BMC Software. It has since become the tech practice's "flagship account," expanding in scope from North America to Europe, Asia, and Latin America and tripling its seven-figure budget.
Accomplishments include establishing BMC as major player in enterprise software and positioning its Business Service Management as the category-to-watch and essential for IT management.
WE and BMC both praise her as a natural leader with courage, integrity, and creativity, as well as strategic and operational savvy.
SVP, corporate, Ketchum, 38
Paul Cohen began his professional career in publishing before joining Burson-Marsteller's corporate practice in 1999. He went on to become director of its public affairs practice in Beijing.
He joined Ketchum in 2003, working in its Shanghai and Hong Kong offices. A leader in international PR, Cohen then returned to New York in 2005 and was named SVP.
Accounts under his charge have included Boeing, FedEx, and Starbucks. He also created Ketchum's International Corporate Group, which more than doubled revenues in its first year.
Cohen serves as senior adviser to the Kremlin's Presidential Press Office and the Government of the Russian Federation. He'll lead PR on a pro-bono campaign promoting the UN's climate change conference this December in Copenhagen.
CEO, Direct Impact, Burson-Marsteller, 37
Dave DenHerder gained extensive grassroots experience working in local, state, and national political arenas, including stints with the Bush/Cheney presidential campaigns (from 1999 to 2004) and as the White House liaison and special assistant to the Secretary of Labor.
As regional political director for the Bush/Cheney 2004 effort, DenHerder oversaw seven states, including Ohio, a pivotal battleground state in the national election.
In 2005, DenHerder was named COO of Burson-Marsteller's Direct Impact, which specializes in grassroots communications and lobbying. He was subsequently named CEO in 2007.
DenHerder leads the agency's Ford Motor account. Under his leadership, its offices have expanded from Washington to three other cities.
VP, external communications, Honeywell Intl., 38
Rob Ferris is both the company's media strategist and chief spokesperson for all corporate and financial media on a global basis.
Ferris has also helped to initiate many "firsts" for both Honeywell and its industry, including his founding of the Honeywell Initiative for Returning Engineers, an award-winning accelerated development program that helps women return to an engineering career after a long break.
In addition, Ferris has driven a global measurement initiative and created the first media "Technology Day," which included a global traveling tech exhibit that helped engage investors, staff, and customers.
Before he joined Honeywell in 2004, Ferris launched GCI Group's capital markets practice and grew it into a worldwide program. He also held senior posts at MWW Group.
VP, communications and strategy, United States Chamber of Commerce, 35
Tita Freeman began her public affairs career at APCO Worldwide before holding management roles at both LexisNexis and the Business Roundtable, a trade group that represents corporate CEOs. She also consulted on global communications and PR for Google and helped build its first Washington outreach plan.
At the Chamber, Freeman is recognized for reinvigorating a team of more than 30 and for increasing the quality of communications and the amount of press coverage it has received. She also helped the organization throw its support behind the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which passed.
A proud graduate of Williams College, Freeman serves on the executive committee board of the school's alumni society.
SVP, consumer lifestyle group manager, Ketchum, 36
Alyssa Garnick is the mastermind behind last year's "Man Lives in IKEA" campaign, which took home three 2009 PRWeek Awards.
Garnick's passion for promoting consumer brands, which was evident in her very first communications job with Cape Cod Potato Chips, has fueled many other innovative and award-winning programs for small and large companies alike, including Johnson & Johnson and Coca-Cola.
Her creativity and ability to drive business– for clients and the agency – is widely recognized. Notably, she will lead Ketchum's consumer brand work in North America for Philips as part of the new, multi-agency OneVoice solution.
A true leader, Garnick isn't afraid to stretch her team or her clients. She is deeply committed to developing talent and to building a culture of "meritocracy."
SVP, global account director, global consumer marketing, MS&L, 34
Amanda Glasgow oversees the oral-care portfolio for Procter & Gamble, and she's worked on many other P&G brands, including Charmin, for which she helped launch the original restrooms in the Times Square holiday campaign.
In addition, she is the PR lead for P&G's new "Brand Agency Leader" approach to brand communications and agency compensation. Her team will handle programming for initiative launches across six continents.
Prior to joining her current agency in 2003, Glasgow helped found Text 100's New York office and establish its client base.
At MS&L, she co-leads and helped create IM, the agency's influencer marketing specialty, which has proven to be a valuable new revenue stream.
PR manager, AutoTrader.com, 34
Formerly a chemist and a software engineer, Brian Gluckman has made a name for himself as an automotive PR specialist. The work is a perfect combination of his love of automobiles, communications, and technology.
In less than two years, he has significantly raised the profile of AutoTrader.com in both consumer and industry outlets.
Gluckman currently guides overall social media and Internet strategies for the company. He also founded the site's Twitter feed, which attracted 1,600 followers in less than six months. In addition, he handles PR for AutoTraderClassics.com, as well as its print magazine.
A respected social media aficionado, Gluckman shares his expertise by speaking at PR industry events and conferences. Last month, he was slated to speak at the Social Media Club Atlanta.
SVP, marketing and communications, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, 37
Maggie Goldberg honed her skills in nonprofit, public affairs, crisis management, and special events in the 1990s working as the press assistant for Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), PR coordinator for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, and director of media relations and events for Witeck-Combs.
She joined the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (a Witeck-Combs client) in 2000, eventually becoming SVP in 2007.
Her accomplishments include creating crisis PR plans after the deaths of both Christopher and Dana Reeve and writing a stem-cell position statement.
She also oversaw a rebranding of the organization in both 2005 and 2008, which included the creation of a new logo, tagline, corporate name, and Web site.
SVP, global lead, WE Studio D, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, 38
For 15 years, Jennifer Houston has managed various tech accounts – from startups to Microsoft, a client she's worked with for nearly a decade. She joined Waggener Edstrom in 1999 and currently heads up the digital team of 65 at WE Studio D, which she also helped create.
The practice has won many awards, and from January to April 2009, her team had increased revenue from digital projects by 75% over the same period in 2008.
Prior to her work with WE Studio D, Houston was responsible for running the Microsoft Windows account and helped to launch Microsoft's initial People Ready Business campaign in 2007.
Houston also speaks at industry conferences and helps various nonprofits with communications issues.
VP, digital media practice, Cohn & Wolfe, 28
At 28, Brooke Hovey has already established herself as a digital and social media expert, leading huge accounts, among them Dell and ExxonMobil, business she helped Cohn & Wolfe win last year.
Based in Austin, TX, Hovey came to C&W via GCI Group. She has been instrumental in building the firm's global digital practice and growing it from five to 30 staffers. Its clients include Whole Foods, MasterCard, Genentech, and Nokia.
In addition to helping companies like Dell become leaders in the digital space, Hovey volunteers as communications director for a foundation she helped establish that battles a rare childhood disease. She also guest lectures at her alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, and has spoken at numerous industry events, including WPP Stream 2008.
VP, worldwide communications; head of global media relations & PR, Pfizer, 39
In addition to managing all of Pfizer's global communications, Ray Kerins is also a senior counselor to the pharmaceutical giant's executive leadership team. Since joining, he has worked to help Pfizer improve media relationships and become more open.
In the past year alone, Kerins has helped navigate the Wyeth acquisition and a black box warning for Chantix.
Prior to Pfizer, Kerins led media relations at Merck and was EVP/MD at GCI Group.
An expert at crisis management, he has handled terrorism, litigation, and reputation issues for many clients including the British government and Major League Baseball. He can also put out literal fires if necessary, as he's a New York state-certified firefighter.
VP, public affairs, PR, Singer Associates, 31
A former journalist, Courtney Lodato is recognized as a leading strategist in California, handling major public projects in numerous sectors – healthcare, energy, the environment, recycling, and transportation.
Lodato leads internal and external communications efforts for several regional healthcare organizations that are undergoing $3 billion in renovation and building projects.
She co-manages communications for the Transbay Joint Powers Authority in San Francisco, and is helping Norcal Waste Systems rebrand and launch the US' first major food-recycling program.
Lodato's expertise also extends globally; she orchestrated PR for an international global warming treaty for The Climate Group of London.
Previously, Lodato did PR work for the San Francisco Symphony.
Partner, Brunswick Group, 34
Jennifer Lowney joined Brunswick Group in 2004 and was named partner earlier this year. Though still quite young, she has led some of the world's biggest companies through good times and bad.
In the past year, Lowney advised Visa on its $18 billion IPO, Pfizer on its $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth, and Roche on its $47 billion acquisition of Genentech. In addition, she counseled Enron for more than three years through its reorganization process and Owens Corning around its emergence from bankruptcy after seven years due to asbestos litigation.
Previously, Lowney spent five years at Hill & Knowlton, where she was promoted three times during that time, ultimately to VP in the agency's corporate/financial practice. She also earned a master's degree in corporate and public communication while at H&K.
VP, corporate technology, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, 31
In his two years as VP at Ogilvy, Nick Ludlum has helped grow the firm's corporate tech practice client roster by 50%. Based in Washington, he manages accounts including DuPont and LexisNexis. He recently helped the latter design a media relations strategy for its Mortgage Asset Research Institute.
Prior to Ogilvy, Ludlum spent eight years with Fusion Public Relations, where he launched and supervised the regional office in Washington, DC, and landed such clients as Panasonic, Elsevier, and Cohda Wireless. In 2002, he managed corporate communications for Panasonic's sponsorship of the Winter Olympics.
Ludlum is active on the tech industry speaking circuit and frequently contributes to Ogilvy's tech practice blog, Tech PR Nibbles.
President, Coyne Public Relations, 39
His current agency's second employee, Rich Lukis helped build Coyne PR's infrastructure and culture. He is part of its DNA.
In January, he became president of the firm, but don't look for him in an ivory tower. He may be running the agency, but he's also working on business and developing talent.
Lukis is renowned for building strong, long-term relationships with both staff and clients, such as General Mills. Retention rates for both are impressive (97% for employees). Also, he has managed communications for some of the most prominent sports properties.
Lukis is also broadly recognized for advancing Coyne's numerous charitable activities. And as a PR industry advocate, Lukis is credited with raising standards and providing professional development – in-house and through PRSA and other organizations.
Kelly O'Connor Lynch
Principal, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, 34
Kelly O'Connor Lynch joined Rasky Baerlein in 1996 and was named principal this year – one of only two principals outside the agency founders. She oversees one of the firm's largest and most profitable practice groups, which focuses on financial services, real estate, and retail.
Her expertise spans many arenas, such as litigation and cause marketing. Clients include Citizens Bank and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, for which she has served six years as spokesperson.
When Pope Benedict XVI visited the US last year, Lynch managed the media around his meeting with survivors of clergy sexual abuse. She was recognized as instrumental to the event's success.
Prior to her current firm, she led corporate communications for Stop & Shop.
Account supervisor, Padilla Speer Beardsley, 28
Whitney Mares has extensive big-name consumer experience – McDonald's, Guinness, and Nintendo are just a few of the big brands she has worked with.
Recently, Mares has led Jim Beam Bourbon through four product launches and created an industry-leading user-generated content campaign. The Online Media Marketing and Advertising Global Summit has asked her to speak on behalf of Jim Beam's programs. Overall, her work won 10 awards last year alone.
Prior to PSB, Mares led numerous consumer initiatives at Weber Shandwick.
Mares keeps herself busy outside of work, too. She established the first internal and external PR committees for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Upper Midwest Chapter. She also leads media relations for the Minnesota PRSA chapter.
President, Dig Communications, 36
Pete Marino started his career at agencies in the mid-1990s be-fore earning his MBA. He founded Dig in Chicago in 2004 as AOR for Miller Brewing. The roster has grown to include other major names – Wrigley, Harley-Davidson, and OfficeMax. The agency's staff now exceeds 45. The firm took home PRWeek's Small Agency of the Year honor in 2009.
Known for both his business and communications acumen, Marino is also widely respected for his unfailing directness and honesty. He serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including the Michael Finley Foundation and the Children's Memorial Hospital of Chicago.
In addition, he is an advisory board member for Twittad, a new firm based on Twitter communication.
External relations manager, Global CoverGirl Cosmetics, Procter & Gamble, 32
For a decade, Anitra Marsh has delivered record- and barrier-breaking results for Procter & Gamble's beauty brands. Under her lead, the 2008 Lash Blast Mascara launch was P&G's most successful cosmetics launch ever – in sales and media.
In 2006, Marsh led the launch of Pantene Beautiful Lengths, a cause program that encourages women to donate their hair to make wigs for female cancer patients.
Marsh has notably enhanced ethnic marketing practices, resulting in market growth and distribution expansion. She also created a new celebrity talent- management approach; developed and refined new PR measurement tools; and pioneered P&G's current influencer marketing model for hair and skincare.
Mentoring is also a priority for Marsh, as is volunteering.
Senior director, PR, ConAgra Foods, 36
Prior to joining ConAgra in 2007, Stephanie Moritz held leadership positions at The Hershey Company and Jim Beam Brands, serving as director of PR at both companies.
Moritz has a history of elevating both corporate PR functions and ROI. At ConAgra, she has transformed marcomms, codified PR planning processes, and built a new measurement model. Under her leadership, PR spend increased by nearly 70%; brand awareness has nearly doubled; share of voice has risen by more than 30%; and her team consistently scores higher ROI than advertising programs.
Moritz is currently driving a company-wide social media strategy. An avid mommy blogger, she volunteers in local communities around Chicago. She leads communications for ConAgra's efforts with local food bank, Loaves and Fishes.
Group VP, financial services, Makovsky + Company, 36
Since joining the agency in 2006, Alyson Nikulicz has expanded multiple billings by at least 20% each. She leads key accounts that represented 40% of the firm's 2008 financial services revenues.
Her work includes New York Life Investments' award-winning launch of its 130/30 products and the launch of Charles Schwab's adviser survey.
Nikulicz regularly gives back to many causes, including Big Brothers/Big Sisters. She managed media inquires and promotional efforts for the Families of September 11 nonprofit and helped build a school in Thailand. She also enjoys dance, taking up tap and ballet at age 30.
She has freelanced for the former vice prime minister of the Ukraine and is currently teaching herself Ukrainian.
Northeast PR manager; LGBT national market lead; national consumer/lifestyle media lead, General Motors, 36
Travis Parman played a key role in GM's Chapter 11 communications, particularly the social media component. He also restructured the Northeast regional office to optimize media and internal relationships and manages PR in that region for GM.
Since 1998, he has managed many responsibilities, including increasing consumer/lifestyle coverage and raising visibility among multicultural audiences. As LGBT outreach lead, Parman has created innovative programs, such as "Speed Dating" in GM cars at Pride and other events, which have established GM's reputation in the space.
Parman has also developed a number of global internal communications programs.
His career began at Lockheed Martin, where he helped navigate the corporate restructuring.
EVP, global chair of the technology practice, Global client relationship manager for Microsoft, Edelman, 37
Pete Pedersen joined Edelman in 1999 when it acquired WHaM Communications, where he was a senior partner. Last year he was named global chair of the tech practice.
Pedersen has managed Microsoft, the agency's largest client, since 2006 and expanded the relationship to 35 global offices. In that time, he's introduced Xbox 360, launched three Halo games, and rolled out Windows Vista and Office 2007.
His early career accomplishments include the Amazon.com and Experience Music Project launches.
Edelman CEO Matthew Harrington praises Pedersen's insight, creativity, and wit in tackling large-scale and complex tasks.
A father of three, he enjoys coaching T-ball in his spare time.
Seth Thomas Pietras
MD, Qorvis Communications, 30
Over the past five years, former journalist Seth Thomas Pietras has risen from director, to senior director, to MD – the youngest person to hold each title. In 2008, he was named agency CMO as well.
Hired by Qorvis to write for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the firm's largest client, Pietras has also written 62 speeches since 2006 for corporate leaders and a Nobel Laureate, among others.
Pietras created the firm's editorial consultancy and led the team that conceived, designed, and developed the award-winning mobile app "Navigating Washington."
An avid outdoorsman with keen interest in environmental issues, he also lends pro bono support to high-profile nonprofits, such as the Sustainable Endowments Institute and the Action Sports Environmental Coalition.
Director, corporate communications, New York Life Investments, 37
In his 11 years working at agencies, John Puccio developed and implemented many global programs for clients such as Bank of America. In 2006, he went to the in-house side and joined investment management subsidiary New York Life Investments, where he established and leads the corporate communications department. While there, Puccio planned and led the award-winning 130/30 product launch and education initiative.
Committed to delivering measurable results and raising the company's profile, he challenges his team to identify holes in the news cycle and to devise innovative stories. The coverage for mutual fund brand MainStay Investments has quadrupled since he joined. Colleagues say Puccio has reinvigorated the brand and its relevance.
CEO, Exemplar Strategic Communications, 36
Patrick Riccards spent the majority of the 1990s working for Congress members before holding leadership positions at two agencies and at Higher Ed Holdings.
An authority on education communications and policy at all levels, including No Child Left Behind, the Pennsylvania STEM Initiative, high school improvement, and reading instruction, he founded Exemplar Strategic Communications last year to serve the sector.
He is also founder and executive director of a Virginia nonprofit; founder and author of the Eduflack blog; and founder and chairman of online professional social network Educommunicators.
Recently, Riccards has begun a national advocacy push to ensure learning opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups.
MD, Burson-Marsteller, 37
Mary Ritti joined Burson-Marsteller's technology practice in 2002 after nearly a decade of agency and in-house experience with high-profile companies, including Nokia.
At Burson, she has become known as a strong leader and creative thinker. She is equally proficient at developing and growing talent and client accounts, such as HP and Intel. She heads the account for the latter, and helped create its "Inspire" and "Sunflower" campaigns.
Burson's new media team in tech was initiated by Ritti, and colleagues recognize her as an early champion of digital use to benefit clients and the firm.
When not working or taking care of her two small children, Ritti lends support to many nonprofits, including Music in Schools Today, Lake County Animal Rescue, and Little Earth Keepers.
President and partner, Kwittken & Company, 36
Over the past decade, Jason Schlossberg has led a number of high-profile launches. Among them are CVS.com; WeightWatchers com; Rockstar Games' controversial Grand Theft Auto: Vice City; and the relaunch of The Sharper Image. In addition, he introduced Uniqlo, a Japanese retail phenomena, to the US market in 2005.
Schlossberg helped establish the first set of industry standards for online health information. He also drove the term "metrosexual" into pop vernacular (along with Marian Salzman, who worked at Euro RSCG at the time).
In 2002, Schlossberg became Euro RSCG Middleberg's youngest VP, and he cofounded Kwittken & Company in 2005.
An internationally acclaimed DJ, Schlossberg performs in major cities around the world.
Principal, The 2050 Group, 31
Adam Segal is a champion of the "little guy." A decade of pro bono work for the National Black Farmers Association led to a White House proposed $1.25 billion discrimination settlement this year.
A public affairs and multicultural communications expert, Segal founded his agency in 2006 after stints at Rabinowitz-Dorf, United Jewish Communities, and on Al Gore's presidential campaign.
The 2050 Group's client roster includes corporate, nonprofit, political, and entertainment accounts, such as Oscar-nominated film Trouble the Water.
Hired as a faculty lecturer by Johns Hopkins University, Segal taught and developed courses in multicultural communications and Internet strategy for six years.
CNN, NPR, and others tap him for his expertise in Hispanic communications.
VP, worldwide corporate communications, Hewlett-Packard, 37
Joining Hewlett-Packard last summer, David Shane has created a more agile and aggressive global communications team that has elevated the company's reputation. This May, HP landed the cover of Fortune's most admired companies issue for the first time.
Shane has helped integrate social media, and he's creating new measurement tools.
Previously, as SVP at Weber Shandwick, he guided Mattel through recalls and advised Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling during landmark litigation.
Shane was SVP at International Creative Management and the youngest VP (at 28) at Comcast Cable, where he formed the East Coast communications department and worked on communications surrounding the company's acquisition of AT&T.
Shane is also a member of the University of Pennsylvania's Southern California Regional Advisory Committee.
Principal, FutureWorks PR, 39
Hailed as a thought leader in social media, Brian Solis has evangelized about how the Internet impacts communications since the mid-1990s. He's credited with coining the phrase "PR 2.0," and his blog is ranked in the Ad Age Power 150 index.
He founded his Silicon Valley firm in 1999 and has published many books, including Putting the Public Back in Public Relations. He also distributes free e-books, such as The Essential Guide to Social Media.
A dedicated mentor, Solis shares his expertise with all levels of industry professionals and travels nearly nonstop, speaking at conferences and events worldwide.
Prior to FutureWorks, Solis was a director at The Benjamin Group and marketing director at AMS, a notebook manufacturer.
VP, public affairs, Natl. Beer Wholesalers Association, 38
Rebecca Spicer spent 12 years producing local television news. She won several AP awards and a regional Emmy nomination for a 9/11 newscast.
In 2006, she became associate director of communications at the White House, producing President Bush's televised events.
Since joining the National Beer Wholesalers Association two years ago, she's raised visibility, integrated advocacy efforts and the public affairs agenda, and unified the communications process at the advocacy group. She also introduced new media programs and teaches members about media relations.
Spicer is active in fundraising and other volunteer work for several nonprofits, such as the Salvation Army.
Director, new business and creative development, Brodeur Partners, 34
Recognized as a highly creative and strategic thinker, Ian Twinn joined Brodeur Partners in 2007. He's also a business development powerhouse. In the past five years, he has landed more than 18 accounts, including OrthoNeutrogena, Pfizer, Pepsi, and Expedia.
Twinn was instrumental in developing Brodeur Partners' Rx Mosaic Health and leads its health and beauty business.
While still in London in 1999, Twinn founded Fresh Communications. Prior to that he was one of two people chosen from 450 applicants for the first graduate recruitment program at Lynne Franks PR (now part of Ketchum), where he helped launch the Spice Girls.
Prior to Brodeur, he was VP of consumer and tech at Zeno Group.
President, cofounder, and co-owner, Airfoil Public Relations, 39
Tech specialist Janet Tyler cofounded Airfoil nine years ago in Detroit, with Microsoft as its cornerstone client.
It has since grown from five employees to 55 and the roster has diversified beyond tech to include healthcare, automotive, and beauty and fashion brands.
In 2006, the agency opened a Bay Area office to serve clients such as eBay and PayPal and to develop new business. Nearly one-third of its clients have been with Airfoil three years or longer. Tyler restructured account groups last year to optimally realign resources with growth industries.
Prior to launching Airfoil, Tyler managed and developed Franco Public Relations Group's burgeoning tech practice, which she drove to national recognition.
SVP, North America consumer practice director, MS&L, 36
Canada native Krista Webster took over MS&L's North American consumer practice last year and moved to New York this year. Credited with reinventing and energizing the practice, Webster has developed new revenue streams and long-term relationships such as clients like P&G, Roche, and Sunkist.
Previously, Webster built the consumer and healthcare practices at Advance Planning, Canada's largest independent public affairs firm, where she was named VP and partner in 2001. MS&L bought the firm in 2003, named her SVP at 29, and made her its first-ever "creative director" in 2007.
A former journalist, Webster lectures on translating journalism skills to PR. She also volunteers for many organizations.
SVP/MD, Flowers Communications Group, 31
Rashada Whitehead, a multicultural communications expert, has garnered nearly 30 awards for launching and developing programs for clients such as MillerCoors, Kmart, Washington Mutual Bank, and Sears. She joined Flowers Communications, which focuses on African-American and Hispanic markets, in 2000 and went on to a VP position at GolinHarris in 2005 before returning to Flowers last year.
Whitehead has managed many national and international programs for McDonald's, including its work around the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which was the fast-food giant's most successful Olympic Games program to date. She also played a key role in the rollout of its Premium Chicken, Salads, and Roast Coffee.
Whitehead mentors young people and professionals throughout Chicago and is active in a number of cause-related activities and organizations. Among them are the Centers for New Horizons, the Chicago Urban League, and the Breast Cancer Network of Strength.