GCI Health grows digital practice with hires, promotions

Digital is the fastest-growing area at GCI, CEO Kristin Cahill said.

Vanner joins GCI from Real Chemistry.

NEW YORK: GCI Health has hired two people and promoted three employees as it expands its digital practice. 

“Digital represents a huge opportunity for brands and executives to engage with their stakeholders more directly,” said Kristin Cahill, global CEO of GCI Group, which includes the agency. “It's our fastest growing area at GCI, and it just feels right to continue to invest in the right talent to bring our clients the best possible digital communications.”

The newly promoted and hired staffers will work on services including paid media, social media, Web3 and immersive experiences, the firm said in a statement. 

Jess Vanner joined GCI Health as group SVP of paid media in September after 11 years at Real Chemistry. Her focus is on expanding GCI’s paid media efforts, including accelerating platform partnerships and increasing integrated media activations.

“Jess already has this experience of building a paid media practice within the industry, and so we are just thrilled to have her expertise and experience,” said Cahill, who became CEO in 2021. “What I love about Jess is she has this very analytic mind. She's like a scientist who is really leveraging and harnessing all of this data to help our clients make really informed decisions.”

Joe Malunda joined GCI Health in October as group SVP and U.S. digital team and operations lead. Malunda previously worked at Edelman, where he led the agency’s digital health practice in the West and was the global digital lead for Fortune 150 companies, GCI said in a statement.

Malunda will partner with account teams to lead operations across the digital practice. His specialty is in sharing healthcare information across digital and social media to improve patient outcomes.

“His real passion, which I think is so relevant today, is the opportunity that online communications provide to democratize health,” said Cahill. “Obviously we're all talking about health equity…That's something very top of mind for many of our clients.”

The agency has also seen a huge demand for immersive experiences, Cahill said. 

“Since the pandemic, healthcare providers are engaging so much more in immersive and online content and education,” she said. “There's a lot of talk about the metaverse and the online world. The younger generations, this is how they are engaging and interacting, and so it's imperative that health organizations and brands [meet] stakeholders where they are.”

The firm also promoted Kristin Ryan this year to EVP and U.S. head of digital innovation. Ryan will lead a team focused on creating custom digital experiences, including Web3, augmented reality extensions and virtual reality simulations.

“She has a real passion for digital innovation and new platforms, new technologies and new ways that we can engage that really reflect where people are, and so focusing her on that is going to allow us to just accelerate the innovation that we are bringing to clients,” Cahill said.

The agency also promoted Matthew Graffeo this year to EVP and global head of digital.

“He is very focused on building out not just our digital practice, but also our clinical trial recruitment practice, which is really growing quickly and obviously involves a lot of digital engagement and promotion,” Cahill said.

GCI also promoted Michael Cree this year to group SVP and head of global influencer.

“We have seen a huge, huge increase in demand for influencer work,” said Cahill. “In the healthcare space, it’s still early days in terms of healthcare providers representing brands, doing branded patient work, and so he is partnering with a lot of our clients to do those firsts within their organizations.”

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