Ben LaBolt: 40 Under 40 2015

Founding partner, The Incite Agency

After a glance at his résumé, it would be easy to mistake Ben LaBolt for someone much older, given all he has accomplished. The Illinois native rocketed to national
attention in 2008 as the young deputy press secretary for an ambitious presidential campaign for a relatively unknown Illinois senator: Barack Obama.

Joining a presidential campaign often represents the pinnacle of a political PR pro’s career; LaBolt wasn’t yet 30. He had served as Obama’s press secretary during his last year as a senator, but now he found himself in the middle of a historical election and a campaign that the PR industry continues to hold up as a case study in effective marketing, from its early social media prowess to its use of data and grassroots organizing.

Impressed by LaBolt, the Obama administration added him to the fledgling president’s White House as an assistant press secretary specializing in justice, energy, and the environment, as well as spokesman for the White House Counsel, handling questions directed by some of the country’s toughest journalists. When it was re-election time, Obama once again turned to LaBolt.

Taking on his highest-profile gig yet as national press secretary for the 2012 campaign, LaBolt built the communications team from the ground up and served as the on-camera spokesperson for the grueling campaign that returned Obama to the White House for another four years.

Now the Washington expert has set up shop as a founding partner of The Incite Agency, turning his campaign know-how into a strategic communications consultancy.

He’s advising CEOs and Fortune 500 companies such as Google and Eli Lilly & Co., and startups such as Crowdpac. Within just two years, he grew Incite to a staff of 10 with revenue exceeding $3 million.

"In a short amount of time, LaBolt has worked his way to the top, navigating the inner workings of the executive and legislative branches of government," says a colleague. "With a laser-sharp focus and quick wit, he’s translated a political career into a corporate one."

When LaBolt’s founding partner at Incite, Robert Gibbs, left for the top PR spot at McDonald’s in June, all eyes were on LaBolt. He promised new services and locations for the agency, writing: "It’s full speed ahead."

- LaBolt serves on the Board of RePublic Charter Schools, dedicated to reimagining public education in the South

- As an adjunct instructor at NYU’s School of Professional Studies, LaBolt grooms the next generation in high-pressure crisis management

- Between campaigns and stints in the Obama White House, LaBolt served as comms director for Rahm Emanuel’s successful Chicago mayoral campaign

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