Ketchum names Novartis' Samantha Schwarz as leader of North America health portfolio

Ketchum also hired Erin Davis as EVP of government health growth and strategy, bolstering the firm's healthcare practice.

Schwarz is moving back to the agency world from Novartis.
Schwarz is moving back to the agency world from Novartis.

NEW YORK: Ketchum has appointed Samantha Schwarz as MD and health portfolio leader of its North America health business. 

Schwarz will oversee all of Ketchum's healthcare sector clients across industries including pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical device, consumer health, hospitals and health systems, payers and government health. She will report to North America president Neera Chaudhary in the newly created position. 

"The critical role of health and healthcare in our society has never been more celebrated than it is right now, and the demand for continuous innovation, education and communication is increasing at an exponential rate," Chaudhary said.

Schwarz is charged with spearheading the Omnicom Group agency's health and acquisition strategy while fostering a diverse set of talent.

"Ketchum's model lends itself to building teams that really serve as an extension of clients and are wholly invested in their business," Schwarz said. "My experience on the client side certainly reiterated and provided a new level of appreciation for how important that is." 

Schwarz joins Ketchum from Novartis, where she was senior director of corporate communications and led global and U.S. product communications for one of Novartis' most widely used gene therapies.  

Before Novartis, Schwarz spent 18 years at Golin, ultimately as the firm's Chicago healthcare practice lead. 

Schwarz said she craved the variation in work when making the jump back to an agency from in-house.

"I really enjoy the diversity of work and the opportunity to work on a range of health companies and their therapeutic areas while fostering development and growth of talent," she said. 

Ketchum also named Erin Davis EVP of government health growth and strategy, reporting to Michelle Baker, chief of staff for health. 

Davis brings almost 20 years of experience of strategic planning, communication, organizational change management and information technology transformation projects to the role, most recently at Booz Allen Hamilton. 

Ketchum has also hired Valarie Clark as SVP of health equity in June and Nicky Battle as EVP of health consumer experience in October.

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