Former ABC News comms VP Julie Townsend moves to AmEx

American Express also hired Madge Thomas from UNICEF to manage CSR.

New AmEx hire Julie Townsend
New AmEx hire Julie Townsend

NEW YORK: American Express has recruited two executives in corporate affairs and communications.

In an organizational memo sent on Monday, AmEx said Julie Townsend will join the company as VP of communications for the global consumer services group, and Madge Thomas will be VP of corporate social responsibility. Both will begin on June 1, reporting to Jennifer Skyler, AmEx’s chief corporate affairs officer.

Townsend will support Doug Buckminster, vice chairman, working to develop and manage communications, which increase awareness of AmEx’s consumer products and services. 

She is set to join AmEx from ABC News, where she worked for more than 14 years. In her most recent position, as VP of communications for more than a decade, she led the news organization’s media relations, internal communications, crisis comms and executive communications.

Vice Media has hired Van Scott, who had reported to Townsend at ABC News, as VP of communications in April.  

In her first stint of approximately four years at the network, Townsend joined ABC News in 2001 as a publicity coordinator and rose to become the director of media relations. 

She left ABC News to work in corporate comms at NBC Universal, focusing on communications for business development and legal and government affairs, and worked at Emanate PR before returning to ABC News.

Shannon Ryan, president of marketing at ABC Entertainment and Disney Television Studios, and Charissa Gilmore, VP of corporate communications for Disney General Entertainment, will lead its team until Townsend’s position is filled, according to Deadline

Leah Gerstner, SVP of corporate communications, has been filling in the global consumer services and corporate communications responsibilities at AmEx prior to Townsend’s arrival.

In the corporate social responsibility program, Thomas will lead the environmental, social and governance strategy and oversee the American Express Foundation.

She previously worked as the head of innovative finance, corporate and philanthropic partnerships at UNICEF's Education Cannot Wait Fund. The U.N. global fund invests in education for children in areas of conflict and crisis.

She will replace Tim McClimon, SVP of CSR, who is remaining at AmEx through the transition but will pursue opportunities outside the company.

Amex posted Q1 consolidated total revenue net of interest expense of $9.1 billion, down 12% from the year prior, as well as net income of $2.2 billion, an improvement on $367 million in the previous year.

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