Outstanding In-House Professional goes to Aflac’s Jon Sullivan

Outstanding Agency Professional was former Ketchum CEO Barri Rafferty.

Aflac's Jon Sullivan.
Aflac's Jon Sullivan.

Moving storyteller. Breakthrough strategist. Passion- and purpose-driven leader. All of these and more describe Jon Sullivan throughout his 30-year-plus career. 

After nearly a decade in journalism, Sullivan entered politics as a spokesman in New York Governor George Pataki’s administration, where he led media relations for a 1,400-employee agency. 

Today, Sullivan leads corporate comms for Aflac. Driven by leadership principles and fueled by a deep sense of purpose, which sparks his passion and creativity, he has transformed Aflac’s corporate social responsibility strategy. When the company faced a reputational deficit, Sullivan developed a robust campaign, My Special Aflac Duck, which established Aflac as an undeniable leader in CSR.

Honorable mention went to HP’s Karen Kahn. ViacomCBS’ Liza Burnett Fefferman, Hershey’s Anna Lingeris and Taco Bell’s Rob Poetsch were finalists. 

Outstanding Agency Professional went to Barri Rafferty, formerly of Ketchum. As the first woman to lead a top-five global PR firm, Rafferty was tireless in her pursuit to lead Ketchum and the comms industry toward a sustainable path for the future. 

A passionate champion of women’s empowerment, she leveraged her position and expertise to help women rise in stature and confidence. The women’s empowerment program she launched at Ketchum ultimately led to the creation of Omniwomen, which has expanded to more than 10 regional chapters in markets including France, Germany, India and the United Arab Emirates. 

Within Ketchum, she established a robust diversity, equity and inclusion program to ensure the best talent is championed — without bias — and appointed the firm’s first director of diversity and inclusion in 2018.

Honorable mention went to Zeno Group’s Barby Siegel. Hotwire’s Barbara Bates, Rogers & Cowan’s Craig Greiwe and WE’s Melissa Waggener Zorkin were finalists. 

Outstanding Marketer was awarded to LinkedIn’s Mel Selcher, and Rachel Ferdinando of Frito-Lay North America won Honorable Mention. Finalists were HydraFacial Company’s Lisa Fawcett, Rogers & Cowan PMK’s Shirley Hughes and Deborah Singer of Girls Who Code. 

Meg Woodworth of Y&R PR won Outstanding Young Professional, while Girls Who Code’s Tania Zaparaniuk won Honorable Mention. The category’s finalists were Method Communications’ Margaret Bonaparte, Plus Communications’ Julia Mirich and Channel V Media’s Kieran Powell. 

The University of Florida’s Alexis Curls won Outstanding Student and the University of Alabama’s Maribeth McClenny was Honorable Mention. Finalists in the Outstanding Student category were the University of Florida’s Gernise Gregoire, the University of Alabama’s Annie Hollon and Penn State University’s Zoe Martin. 

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