Women to Watch 2020

The future of PR and communications is in good hands with this group of emerging professionals making their voices heard in the industry.

Women to Watch 2020 banner
Women to Watch 2020 banner

The future of PR and communications is in good hands with this group of emerging professionals making their voices heard in the industry. Here are the 2020 Women to Watch.

Check out the 2020 Hall of Femme honorees here.

Denise Daly
Head of U.S. lifestyle PR, brand, product and luxury, Harman International

Daly is a comms powerhouse who manages nearly one campaign a month while fielding hundreds of inquiries and propelling record-breaking results.

Since joining Harman in 2018, she has made a measurable impact. On her watch, year-over-year coverage of lifestyle products increased by over 20%, garnering more than 25 billion impressions in 2019 alone.

Within six months of joining the Harman team, Daly had a huge win at the Consumer Electronics Show — a pivotal event for the brand during which the bulk of its products are unveiled to press and customers. Under her direction, nine consumer product announcements across five separate product lines were launched over the course of three days, earning 1.3 billion impressions.

Under her watch, the JBL brand garnered thousands of PR hits and massive consumer engagement, which drove tremendous growth and delivered record-setting brand results. Daly has expanded the reach and impact of JBL Fest, the company’s premiere brand event. This year, her team outpaced JBL Fest metrics for impressions, engagement and social connections.

Tara Darrow
Senior director, corporate comms and brand reputation, T-Mobile

Whether it’s leading communications for a major retailer to leading the charge for the nation’s fastest growing wireless provider, Darrow is known to deliver stellar results while leading her team with grace, humor and agility.

At Nordstrom, Darrow put her crisis expertise to work dealing with the presidential administration after the chain removed Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. She also helped launch Nordstrom catalogues featuring disabled models.

Two years after joining T-Mobile, Darrow spearheaded comms strategy for the T-Mobile/Sprint merger — the biggest merger in U.S. telecommunications history. Under her guidance, proactive news moments, positive sentiment for the merger narrative and positive articles all increased — a huge accomplishment, considering the merger garnered over 12,000 pieces of news coverage.

Known as an exceptional leader and mentor — inside and outside the office walls — Darrow is a strategic asset for her company and a trusted counselor on critical projects. Her fresh ideas and new approaches to storytelling have been a credit to the brand.

Stephanie Ericson
VP, Zeno Group

In just over three years at Zeno, Ericson vaulted from new-to-the-agency account supervisor to a VP title and the lead role on Lenovo, the agency’s largest global account. Ericson launched Lenovo’s first data-informed influencer program; led the efforts for new measurement and analytics processes and KPIs to drive meaningful activations; and grew Lenovo’s global diversity and inclusion work with new partnerships and primary research. Her fearless approach, dedication and excellent client relationship with Lenovo helped Zeno achieve unprecedented growth on the account.

Colleagues say that Ericson’s work ethic, passion for the business and commitment to her colleagues and clients sets a high bar and inspires everyone else around her to up their game.

Ericson leads Chicago’s Culture Crew, an organization championing Zeno’s inclusive and engaging corporate culture and Be Kind to Your Mind, a program focused on resources to support mental health, as well as Zeno Gives Back, an agency-wide volunteering day.

A devoted runner, she works with United in Stride, an organization that unites visually impaired runners with sighted guides.

Allison Fastow
Founding partner, Seven Letter

Fastow has shaped communications for some of the nation’s largest corporations, nonprofits and issue-advocacy campaigns and developed compelling narratives that have literally changed people’s lives. Colleagues say she has a talent for quickly and effectively understanding complex policy issues and developing smart communications programs that advance client objectives.

Over her career she has navigated crises for a Fortune 500 healthcare company and helped one of the nation’s largest charitable organizations stake out a place for itself among its peers. Her work to help free Kamal and Mohamed Eldarat, U.S. citizens who were arbitrarily detained in the United Arab Emirates, was a career high point.

Working with international and domestic legal experts, human rights advocates and tens of thousands of concerned American citizens, Fastow developed and oversaw a comprehensive comms campaign that leveraged earned and digital media to bring awareness to the case and advocate for the pair’s freedom. The campaign helped secure their release after 640 days of detention.

Kristen Fraser
Manager, public relations, Aflac

Fraser’s keen sense of industry knowledge, laser focus and strong belief in teamwork has made her a dynamic leader and force to be reckoned with. Since joining Aflac in 2014, she has executed some of the company’s most innovative communications efforts, including leading the comms campaign for the launch and delivery of My Special Aflac Duck, Aflac’s innovative robotic companion that provides comfort to children with cancer.

At the product’s unveiling at the Consumer Electronics Show, Fraser helped orchestrate 2 billion-plus media impressions and multiple award recognitions, including Best in Show. My Special Aflac Duck went on to win Silver PR Lions at Cannes Festival 2019 and was named Time magazine’s 50 Best Inventions of 2018. Her most significant accomplishment was helping deliver over 6,000 ducks to pediatric cancer patients in more than 200 hospitals across the country, at no cost to their families.

This year she spearheaded internal and external communications for the launch of Aflac Isn’t, one of the most extensive integrated marketing campaigns in the company’s history.

Amisha Gandhi
VP of influencer marketing and communications, SAP Ariba

With experience across a variety of marketing communications and social media roles for both startups and notable brands in Silicon Valley over the past 15 years, Gandhi has honed her skills as a strategic thinker and problem solver who is always looking for a better way of doing things. Colleagues say she’s open to new ideas and is never afraid to experiment or take risks.

That mindset has served her well in the tech field. Gandhi created SAP’s first global influencer marketing program, shepherding the program from its pilot stage to a full-scale global function across the company. The program’s purpose of driving influencer marketing across the entire customer journey, from awareness to demand generation to advocacy, has always been top priority for this experienced professional.

Gandhi kept that purpose in mind as she built a second leading influencer program for SAP Ariba while simultaneously leading analyst relations and communications for both Ariba and Fieldglass.

Eva González
VP, corporate affairs, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises

González has built a career on using data to tell a story, change perspectives and open minds to the new realities of a shifting world. Over the past 20 years, she has led reports, published articles and overseen industry events that have helped create awareness about the relevance and importance of Hispanics and other minority groups in the United States.

As the program leader for NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises’ women empowerment program, Unstoppable Women, she has overseen the “Latinas Powering Forward” report on the state of Latinas in the U.S. The report highlights the progress Latinas have made, introduces a refreshed picture of the modern Latina and targets significant challenges that lay ahead.

González’s efforts to make workplace communication more efficient and productive, as well as her professionalism and foresight, have made her the trusted right-arm of countless executives. At NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, she led the team reinventing the Town Hall format, making it an ‘Open Talk’ where employees could feel more included and the executives more accessible.

Tiffany Guarnaccia
Founder and CEO, Kite Hill PR

Guarnaccia has forged her path as a female executive, making her own seat at the table as an entrepreneur and innovator.

From creating the in-house marketing and PR functions for a growing ad tech startup to building a strategic communications agency specializing in tech, Guarnaccia has spent her career stretching the boundaries of what public relations can achieve. Her unique approach to the in-house model allows PR to reach deep inside a client’s business and drive impressive results.

Since launching Kite Hill PR in 2014, Guarnaccia has grown the business, adding a team in London and affiliates in Germany, Brazil and APAC. The award-winning agency works with some of the top movers and shakers in the advertising, marketing, media and tech sectors.

One of her key industry contributions is Communications Week, a global cross-industry platform that recognizes innovation in the PR, communications and media industries that Guarnaccia created and launched in 2014. More recently, Guarnaccia launched PR Sprint Workflow, a step-by-step agile model for agencies and in-house teams.

Lisa Jedan
VP, global brand communications, Bacardi

With more than 25 years of experience working with national and global companies, Jedan has successfully crafted and implemented strategic communications plans for Fortune 500s, start-ups, high profile individuals and world-leading brands.

In five years, Jedan increased investment in Bacardi’s comms function, built a team of seven, made connections into regional marketing teams across 160 markets and demonstrated measurable impact of brand communications on driving brand sentiment and desire.

She led the multi-market PR strategy for Martini’s sponsorship of Williams Martini Racing, taking it from the sports pages to the lifestyle pages, introduced the concept of 24/7 newsrooms and increased awareness and engagement around branded activities. Long before it was fashionable, she connected social media with e-commerce leveraging events, like Bacardi No Commission with online platforms, delivering a significant uplift in sales. Most recently she helped launch the first livestream whisky tasting on Amazon’s UK and German platforms, engaging new and existing whisky drinkers and innovating within the e-commerce space.

In her side hustle, Jedan is a successful voice-over artist working with Dove, Ziploc and Breyer's Ice Cream.

Jessamyn Katz
President, Heyman Associates

Within the Heyman Associates team, Katz is an essential and strategic trusted voice of reason whose work touches every aspect of the firm’s business. Her deep understanding of how a successful communications function is built and maintained has won the respect of leaders in the field. Clients look to her for advice on hiring decisions at the senior-most levels and top communicators turn to Katz for advice when considering the next steps in their own careers.

Since joining Heyman as an associate in its New York headquarters in 2005, Katz has steadily risen to the top. She launched the company’s San Francisco office, where she not only expanded the firm’s tech client base, but developed relationships with San Francisco legacy businesses, a two-pronged approach that had a huge impact on the firm’s business.

Her relationships with technology influencers, VC companies and private equity firms have been an asset for not only for searches, but they have also positioned Katz as the go-to resource on how to create or improve a corporate comms or marketing function.

Melanie Klausner
SVP, corporate, cause and consumer, Red Havas U.S.

In a tough, rapidly changing industry with little room for error, Klausner is known as a resilient professional who can address any challenge that comes her way. Her ability to see the big picture and make swift, productive decisions has won her many fans at Red Havas.

Klausner’s leadership helped to shape and unify the Red Havas culture across offices. She has cultivated a collaborative team environment, spearheaded workplace perks (including wellness benefits and social outings) and helped to keep her team motived to achieve strong results for clients.

She has a history of award-winning work and has been instrumental in driving new business for her firm. In 2018, Klausner oversaw the Global Climate Action Summit, coordinating global media relations and execution of comms at the event, which ultimately generated 3.4 billion impressions and was recognized with a number of awards. Her award-winning work as lead on Walking With The Wounded’s Walk of America helped raise awareness for veterans’ mental health and beat the client’s media placements target.

Marisa Lalli
GM and SVP, WE New York, WE

Lalli has driven integrated consumer campaigns, executive thought leadership, product launches and cross-channel storytelling for some of the world’s most valuable brands.

This pro’s people-first leadership approach has led WE’s New York office to the largest growth surge in the agency’s history, with a significant workforce expansion and a spike in employee engagement.

Her work for McDonald’s delivery service has been groundbreaking. In 2018, Lalli led one of the largest global communications campaigns for the brand, Global McDelivery Day, which generated a significant global sales lift and helped make history as the Thursday with the most orders on record for the chain at the time. The 2019 iteration of that activation, McDelivery Night In, topped the previous year’s results by flipping the activation to an evening-focused event. Leveraging core audience data and insights, Lalli also partnered with La-Z-Boy to build the first-ever McDelivery Couch, a custom couch created to elevate the McDelivery experience.

In a career highlight, Lalli secured the first-ever Microsoft Surface placement on Oprah’s 2012 Favorite Things List.

Yasmine Lewis
Corporate communications manager, Voya Financial

With a fresh approach to a traditionally conservative industry, Lewis championed corporate culture initiatives and revamped diversity practices and benefits programs that have helped transform Voya.

In 2019, she lobbied to relax Voya’s social media standards allowing an employee Instagram takeover for the company's third annual volunteer sabbatical. The initiative, a four-day shoe distribution program in Navajo Nation, Arizona, was one of Voya’s most successful Instagram campaigns to date.

As comms lead on one of Voya's largest charitable initiatives, Voya Teacher Voices, Lewis found new ways to engage educators, amplifying their expertise on Voya's own social channels. Based on her insights, Voya launched its first-ever Facebook group, Voya Teacher, which allows the firm to interact seamlessly with its audience and reduce turnaround time.

Lewis played a key role in Voya's first-ever employee diversity and inclusion campaign. Launched in 2019, the initiative embedded D&I into Voya's culture by deploying employee resource groups, reinventing Voya's recruiting and retention processes and policies and creating new customer-focused products and services.

Lily Lin
VP, global communications and public affairs, Google

Despite the challenges of storytelling in a complex, fragmented landscape, Lin has been instrumental in helping Google expand its reach.

Lin led PR for the launch of some of Google’s most popular products, including Google Drive, Chrome on Android and Chrome on iOS. Her biggest impact has been in crafting the narrative around Google’s entry into hardware, helming the first launch and introduction of Chrome laptops with other manufacturers, the first Google-built hardware product and several versions of the Android phone.

She also led comms around the launch of the first Pixel smartphones, many of the Nest smart home products, Pixelbooks, wearables and Google’s cloud gaming device, Stadia.

As the only woman and only person of color at the VP level within Google’s 415-person global communications team, Lin takes her role as change agent seriously. To help employees navigate an organization as complex and fast-moving as Google, she cofounded Comms Camp, a program that identifies and provides training for the next generation of leaders and is piloting a new mentorship program.

Erin Lindsay
Director, Precision

A veteran strategist with more than a decade of experience leading comms and marketing campaigns for a range of high-profile organizations and causes, Lindsay built her career in public policy and politics.

During the Obama administration, she served in the first-ever White House Office of Digital Strategy, helping pioneer the White House’s use of the internet to strategically communicate and engage with the American public. She developed and helmed some of the administration's most creative social engagements, including: the first Big Block of Cheese Day, when dozens of White House officials participated in a day-long Q&A on social media; White House Office Hours, when key staff were available on Twitter to answer questions on timely topics; and President Obama’s first-ever Instagram video.

At Precision, Lindsay’s team launched a new website, email program and social campaigns in support of the JFK Presidential Library and Museum’s Profile in Courage Award, increasing submissions exponentially. She also supported the digital strategy that helped Justin Trudeau win the vote nationwide and the Liberal Party of Canada secure a majority swing in Parliament that made political history.

Carolina Lopez Herz
VP, BCW Global

Throughout her time at Burson-Marsteller and BCW, Lopez Herz has been a trusted counselor to the agency’s most senior executives on high-stakes client issues and crises. With an impressive track record for leading initiatives that accelerate agency revenue growth, her impact extends beyond the client spotlight to the heart of the organization.

Lopez Herz’s strengths in assessing talent, optimizing operations, establishing efficient financial models and overseeing critical internal communications made her a trusted partner to Chris Foster during the integration of Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe in North America.

She has built infrastructure for and supported the launch and growth of BCW’s cannabis and hemp consulting unit, an industry-leading capability and the first of its kind. Since the unit’s launch, this pro has been part of multiple winning pitches in the space.

In the past year, Lopez Herz spearheaded new business wins for brands across a number of industries including technology, healthcare and management consulting.

Melissa Muñoz
Director, APCO Worldwide

Muñoz has established a reputation as a trusted counselor to the C-suite of Fortune 200 companies navigating dramatic change, mounting stakeholder pressures and reputational challenges.

Her understanding of the issues healthcare companies face — from litigation to policy to stakeholder skepticism — led to her interest in enhancing health by establishing strategic partnerships and pioneering multifaceted programming.

She serves as a key client leader of one of APCO’s largest global client relationships, a role in which she provides perspective on opportunities for synergy and growth in areas key to the client’s business priorities. Muñoz has also been instrumental in the development and implementation of a groundbreaking public health partnership to be launched in 2020 that brings together academia, business and community leaders to systematically and effectively address public health crises in communities.

Prior to her private sector work, she served as a legislative aide in the U.S. House of Representatives focusing on healthcare policy during the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act and lead staffer supporting the Representative’s work as the ranking member of the House Veteran’s Affair Committee.

Maureen Murray
President, Precise Communications

Murray began her career as a journalist, photographer and public affairs specialist for the U.S. Navy, then found a niche in public relations as a VP at a firm serving consumer goods and home improvement products.

While in that role, Murray saw an opportunity to start a boutique PR firm specializing in building, architectural and home improvement products, and thus Precise Communications was born. Over its 25 years in business, the firm has grown from a sole proprietorship to a five-person group and doubled its revenue. Murray’s emphasis on good writing, "touching" each client daily in some way and concentrating on fun and professionalism continues to inspire her staff and delight clients.

This Effie and Platinum Brand Builder award-winner serves eight major building product manufacturers and remains active in industry trade groups, including the North American Deck & Railing Association and the Northeastern Lumber Retail Association.

Keri Potts
Senior director, communications, ESPN

In her 15-plus years at ESPN, Potts has worked on properties ranging from the NFL to the NBA. She has contributed to the creation of ESPN Films and its award-winning 30 for 30 documentary series, the ESPYS awards and the launch of espnW, the first dedicated content and digital business initiative designed to serve, inform and inspire female athletes and fans.

Most recently, Potts guided the launch of the ACC Network, her third college sports network launch. Potts pulled together a year of press events, media junkets and in-market outreach — even an ACC mascot-themed dog costume contest — to promote the launch of ESPN’s newest college network.

Potts also serves as president and founder of A Fight Back Woman, a speaking and consulting firm specializing in matters of gender-based and interpersonal violence, respect in the workplace and women’s empowerment and leadership. She serves as president of the board for Pathways to Safety International, an organization that assists Americans who have been sexually assaulted or abused abroad, and has chronicled her own assault and the international prosecution of her attacker for various media outlets.

Suzanne Swink
Senior director, U.S. govt affairs — communications and external affairs, BP

The ability to influence domestic and international issue areas on legislative and regulatory fronts while building brand credibility and mitigating risk has been a career-long asset for Swink.

Adept at synthesizing and translating complex policy developments for target audiences, she has been responsible for developing and executing multifunction strategic engagement plans, working with members of Congress and their staff on issues related to offshore and onshore development, pipelines, shipping, international trade, refining/petrochemicals, energy exports, and oil and gas marketing/trading.

Prior to joining BP, Swink was senior legislative assistant to Congresswoman Susan A. Davis (D-CA), who was a member of the New Democrats Coalition and Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. Swink served as the Congresswoman’s advisor on a broad domestic portfolio, including energy, environment, infrastructure, trade and judiciary issues, and she played a key role in securing transportation, infrastructure and energy appropriations for municipalities and universities.

Katie Walley-Wiegert
Brand communications manager, The Martin Agency

Colleagues say Walley-Wiegert has a talent for turning people (and brands) into believers in the power of content and PR. As the pro responsible for overseeing the Martin Agency’s Cultural Impact Lab’s brand reputation and external media relations strategy, Walley-Wiegert has helped secure more than 400 earned media hits for the agency in her first six months on the job.

At her previous position as an editorial writer at Gyro — one of the world’s largest B2B advertising agencies — she transformed a year’s worth of raw quantitative and qualitative consumer sentiment data on sweeteners into dynamic assets that secured meetings with CPG giants, including Coca-Cola, Dannon and Gatorade.

Co-workers praise her knack for creative storytelling, strategic mindset and great sense of empathy. In partnership with the University of Cincinnati Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Walley-Wiegert helped develop a curriculum aimed at teaching young adults how to care for children with developmental disabilities.

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