Schneider to step down as Burson DC market leader

Johanna Schneider is exiting her post as MD and market leader of Burson-Marsteller's Washington, DC, office to join the gubernatorial campaign of Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler.

WASHINGTON: Johanna Schneider is exiting her post as MD and market leader of Burson-Marsteller's Washington, DC, office to join the gubernatorial campaign of Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler.

Schneider will leave the position by the month's end, she told PRWeek. Beyond the fact that she will provide communications support for Gansler's fundraising efforts, other specifics of her work, including her title, are still being discussed, she said. Burson is determining who will succeed her.

Last month, Gansler hired Bob Wheelock, a former senior producer for ABC News' Good Morning America as his communications director. He deferred comment on her hire, saying, “We have not firmed up a role as of yet.”

Schneider said she has known Gansler and his family for 20 years.

“It's a real passion project for me to support my friend, who I share a lot of values with,” she said. Schneider added that she was also drawn to his pro-business initiatives, such as his plan to cut corporate taxes should he be elected as Maryland's governor.

It's also a chance for Schneider to re-enter the political world. She previously served as press secretary for former Republican Rep. Robert Michel (R-IL) and worked on an unsuccessful congressional campaign in the early 1980s.

Schneider has also worked as director of communications at the Business Roundtable, senior adviser for media relations at the National Institutes of Health, and deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Labor.

A source familiar with the situation said Schneider wanted to get away from the earnings-driven work environment that a publicly traded company must deal with to one that is more mission-focused. She will leave the company after less than two years on-board.

The firm's executive leadership “wishes her well” and has begun a search for a replacement, said Paul Cordasco, MD of marketing and communications at Burson. He declined to comment further.

Schneider is the latest of a handful of DC general managers to exit their roles in the past six months. In September, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide and DC GM Ben Finzel parted ways after a year. Meanwhile, Porter Novelli is seeking a new Washington, DC, leader after Kiki McLean stepped down as its GM in June. MSLGroup and Finn Partners have also seen leadership changes in the nation's capital.

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