BCW picks Edelman's Brian Ellner as U.S. corporate practice lead

A.J. Jones is now BCW's public affairs and crisis lead in the U.S.

Brian Ellner
Brian Ellner

NEW YORK: Burson Cohn & Wolfe has hired Brian Ellner as EVP of global corporate solutions to oversee its U.S. corporate practice.

Ellner started in the role on Tuesday and reports to Chris Foster, BCW's president of North America, and Jillian Janaczek, EVP, MD, and market leader for New York. Ellner will serve on the BCW North American leadership team, which is comprised of all nine market leaders and its practice leaders, Foster said.

"It’s a tremendous opportunity to continue to build an exciting, new brand," Ellner said. "It’s not Burson 2.0 or Cohn & Wolfe 2.0, it’s an opportunity to build something. There’s a lot of opportunity to infuse purpose and integrated comms, which is what I spent a lot of time focusing on in both my private and public sector work."

The last person to occupy the U.S. corporate practice lead role, A.J. Jones, is now the EVP of global public affairs solutions, leading BCW’s public affairs and crisis practice in the U.S. Before Jones joined BCW in May 2018, he worked at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as chief of staff to president and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron.

BCW moved up Jones to fill in a vacancy in public affairs leadership, Foster said.

"If I were to look for where we’re seeing a lot of growth, it’d be technology, corporate, and public affairs," he added. "So we’re seeing a lot of activity in those areas and we wanted to make sure leadership was shored up."

Ellner joins BCW from Edelman, where he was GM of public affairs and issues advocacy for four years. His portfolio at Edelman included finance, food, education, nonprofit, philanthropic, professional sports and transportation clients, a statement said.

Andrea Hagelgans replaced Ellner as the public affairs and advocacy lead for Edelman New York, a spokesperson said.

Before joining Edelman, Ellner was vice chairman of education holdings and a member of the technology group at MacAndrews & Forbes in New York. In that role, he oversaw investment and acquisition opportunities in education tech companies, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Previously, he was senior strategist for the Human Rights Campaign’s initiative to legalize same-sex marriage in New York State. There, he created the Americans for Marriage Equality campaign.

Earlier in his career, Ellner was a senior aide to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the city’s Department of Education.

BCW was formed via the combination of WPP shops Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe under CEO Donna Imperato in February. BCW is the third-largest agency in the world by revenue. The firm saw 4% revenue growth last year to an estimated $691 million. It acquired creative shop HZ Group in August.

Editor's note: This story was updated with comment from Foster and Ellner on November 13, 2018.

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