US Fund for UNICEF promotes Benenson

NEW YORK: The US Fund for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has promoted Lisa Benenson to SVP of marketing and communications.

NEW YORK: The US Fund for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has promoted Lisa Benenson to SVP of marketing and communications.

She joined the organization in April as VP of marketing and communications. Benenson has succeeded Veronica Pollard, who joined the group in April 2010 but recently left to move abroad.

Benenson, who served as consulting editor for Newsweek and The Daily Beast for five months before joining the nonprofit, oversees all brand and marketing, digital, and communications strategies for the group. She reports directly to the US Fund for UNICEF president and CEO Caryl Stern.

Benenson is overseeing a team of 31 staffers, with two more coming on board soon, across seven divisions, including PR, digital and print media, public advocacy and strategic communications, video communications and production, sports marketing, research and marketing, and celebrity engagement.

“For us, the most important thing we're looking at right now is how to be the most powerful storyteller we can be,” said Benenson. “There's incredible competition in the world of nonprofits and everybody needs share of mind and the way you get to that is by being a really great storyteller.”

Since joining in April, Benenson has spearheaded the creation of a national integrated campaign called “Believe in Zero,” which launched on Monday. Its objective is to increase interest in and awareness about UNICEF's efforts to prevent child deaths around the world. A film about the organization's steps to help children thrive is available on the UNICEF USA website.

She added that the organization is taking a different approach with a “purposeful change of direction” by using imagery that “respects the children” that UNICEF serves and delivers a message about the difference people can make.

“I've spent most of my life as a journalist and it's been really fascinating to come into a nonprofit organization and take storytelling skills and apply them to this different universe,” she explained.

Prior to working for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, Benenson was editor-in-chief at Hallmark Magazine from 2005 to 2009. Before that, she served as editorial director and VP at Rebus for two years. Benenson also held editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Working Woman Network, Good Housekeeping, Newsday, and The Denver Post.

Last week, UNICEF released a report showing a decrease of about 40% in the number of deaths among children younger than five around the globe, falling from an estimated 12 million deaths in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.

The organization has also recently focused on rebuilding schools in Syria despite the ongoing turmoil in the country. As of September, UNICEF has helped to repair 64 schools in the country, and it plans to fix another 100 schools.

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