Jesica D'Avanza: 40 Under 40 2012

Senior Director, Strategic Communications, American Cancer Society

Jesica D’Avanza is helping save lives with her award-winning work for the American Cancer Society. As senior director of strategic communications, she plays a key role in the organization’s mission, directly supervising a team of eight PR professionals and providing

advice and support to more than 30 different departments, units, and divisions. She has helped devise highly successful campaigns such as the More Birthdays initiative, which brought in several industry awards in its first year. Her efforts included mobilizing key people to form a new More Birthdays movement to fight cancer, reaching out to them using both social media and traditional PR. Overall, More Birthdays has led to an increase in online donations and helped created a core movement of supporters that is nearly 431,000 strong.

D’Avanza also broke new ground by creating a Blogger Advisory Council – a 14-strong group of female social media influencers and strategists willing to promote the cause and offer advice. The group has garnered more than 50 million online influencer impressions and nearly 50 million social media impressions.Other achievements include developing the society’s DetermiNation program for runners taking part in endurance events such as marathons and triathlons. The effort has since grown to more than 22,000 participants and generates in excess of $16.5 million in revenue. Then there is the highly successful Great American Health Check campaign to encourage all US citizens to take control of their health and lower their risk of cancer, which gained support from key public and private partners and members of Congress.

"Jesica is an exceptional individual who strives for excellence in everything she does," says Greg Donaldson, the society’s national VP, corporate comms. "She not only excels as a public relations practitioner, but she also goes above and beyond to be a responsive, collaborative partner to her clients and colleagues and a trusted mentor to her team."

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