CEO and president, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide
Though Waggener Edstrom Worldwide experienced a global revenue increase of just 3.5% in 2011, CEO, founder, and president Melissa Waggener Zorkin led the firm with a sense of drive and energy that allowed the agency to build strong roots in the digital and integrated influence spaces.
Under Zorkin's direction, the Seattle-based firm held onto major accounts such as Microsoft, while also landing business with clients including the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, Siemens PLM Software, United Nations Foundation, and the Environmental Defense Fund.
The agency has expanded substantially since it was founded in 1983 by Zorkin and Pam Edstrom. It has grown to become the second-largest independent PR agency in the world, falling behind only Edelman. The firm, which started simply as a two-person consultancy, now consists of more than 900 employees worldwide.
Zorkin recently added Munich-based healthcare agency Patzer PR, acquired to help Waggener Edstrom strengthen its healthcare expertise in Europe, particularly Germany. This past year, she also invested in technology and consumer agency Shout Communications Korea and Australian communications agency Buchan Consulting.
A working mother herself, Zorkin is committed to helping her employees succeed and fulfill their potential in business, all the while maintaining parenting roles and responsibilities. In doing so, she often takes a hands-on approach in her dedication to developing future agency leaders.
Fiercely dedicated to philanthropy and volunteer work, Zorkin recently made a trip to Ethiopia where she participated in the World Economic Forum on Africa 2012. She also holds board member roles at Mercy Corps and See Your Impact.
Additionally, she is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society and the Council of PR Firms. Zorkin regularly shares her thoughts, experiences, and other musings through blogging on Waggener Edstrom's CEO blog. Zorkin also writes for the Council of PR Firms and speaks at various industry events.