NEW YORK: Hill+Knowlton Strategies has named Mary Jane Walker as U.S. head of healthcare.
Walker started in the role on June 1, reporting to Richard Millar, global president and CEO of the Americas. Walker is not directly replacing anyone in the position, with the firm not having a U.S. head of healthcare for “a few years,” according to an agency representative.
Walker will lead teams that support communications for large and small pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other healthcare companies, the firm said in a statement.
Walker cited H+K’s strong healthcare team as a reason for joining the firm, and said in an emailed statement, “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of healthcare in all of our lives, and also the need to transform healthcare communications.”
The role marks Walker’s second stint at H+K. She previously worked at the WPP firm between 2008 and 2012 as an SVP in H+K’s healthcare practice, collaborating with clients such as Deloitte's healthcare unit, Pfizer, Forest Laboratories and Amgen.
Between 2012 and 2017, Walker was Weber Shandwick’s SVP of corporate healthcare. Since then, she has been partner and chief communications and strategy officer for marketing firm TheSocialArchitects.
Earlier in her career, Walker served as press secretary for Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during the height of the HIV epidemic.
H+K is one of the WPP firms working on the $600 million integrated Walgreens Boots Alliance account that runs until 2022 with an option to extend for two additional years. The firm’s other pharma and healthcare clients have included Takeda and GSK, according to its website.
Other recent U.S. leadership hires at H+K include Daniel Schwarz as SVP of public affairs, Rob Ferris as U.S. head of energy and industrials, John Quick as SVP of healthcare and Cathy Resler as Better Impact citizenship and sustainability lead.