ANN ARBOR, MI: General Motors comms staffers Joanne Krell and Omar Hussain have launched strategic communications agency Defy Communications.
The agency will focus on communications for mission-driven organizations, such as advocacy organizations, foundations, higher education, and public and private sector companies. Defy Communications is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and launched on Wednesday.
"This has been such an amazing year in the world's landscape," Krell said. "Context matters. The country and the world has entered a significant period to make decisions about the way it shows up in the world.
Krell and Hussain will both be managing partners at the firm. Defy currently has a "handful" of clients in the foundation and private sectors, Krell said. She and Hussain are the only employees, but they are also working with other partners.
Both founders worked together at GM for about a year - Krell as executive director of corporate communications, and Hussain as manager of strategic communications. Krell will be replaced by Dave Roman, previously executive director of advanced technology communications.
Krell worked at GM in two stints: Between 2006 and 2009, and again between February 2016 and June of this year. From 2009 to 2016, Krell spent six years at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Hussain had worked with Krell since her time at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where he worked in communications for nearly four years.
"When we really think about how the world progresses, we want to take the path that can defy limitation - that's how we got [the name]," Krell said. "We see the firm as the way to connect the most courageous and modern communications strategies with mission-driven work to defy perception."