Home Blog Lists|PR Lack of women leaders in PR? Not in Minneapolis!

Lack of women leaders in PR? Not in Minneapolis!


In this Sunday’s edition of the Star Tribune, there was an interesting column about a major kerfuffle in the local restaraurant industry.

Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine highlighted 12 of the top chefs in the Twin Cities on its cover. Not one woman was on the cover.

We’ve seen this movie before, right? Specifically, in the PR/social media industry.


How many posts have been written over the years calling for more women to be featured in these lists?

How many articles have we read about the lack of women leaders in PR?

It’s a common conversation in our world.

Except, when you start to dig down a bit here in Minneapolis. You quickly find there are a TON of outstanding women leaders. And, right behind them are the next wave of women leaders just a few years away from making their mark.

I mean, take a look at this list of women executives in PR here in Minneapolis:

Lisa Hannum, president, Beehive PR

Started Beehive almost 17 years ago. Still going strong.

Sara Gavin, president, Weber Shandwick North America

Now president of Weber Shandwick North America. That’s a big deal, folks.

Lynn Casey, president PadillaCRT

Has worked at Padilla for 32 years now. Literally an institution in the local PR community.

Dustee Jenkins, vice president-communications, Target

A transplant from DC, Dustee holds one of the more high-profile corporate PR jobs in town.

Rose McKinney, founder, Pineapple RM

Former president of Risdall McKinney PR, Rose is also active with PRSA and an adjunct professor at Metropolitan State University.

Amanda Brinkman, chief brand and communications officer, Deluxe

This superstar has held leadership positions at Allianz and United Health Group, before becoming Deluxe’s chief brand officer.

Jen Bellmont, owner/Shelli Lissick, partner, Bellmont PR

Both help lead one of the faster-growing PR firms in Minneapolis.

Teresa McFarland, founder, McFarland Communications

20-plus years in the business–the last 12-plus running her own firm.

Alexis Walsko, owner, Lola Red PR

15 years running Lola Red.

Maria Reitan, president, Lola Red PR

Joined Alexis recently, after many years in different leadership roles over at Spong.


Look at the next level down, and you see numerous women playing key roles within their agencies and corporations:

Kendra Klemme, director-communications/PR, Starkey

Jill Gutterman, global customer experience strategy, 3M

Amy Von Walter, vice president-communications and public affairs, Best Buy

Gabby Nelson, director-communications and change management, Cargill

Heather Rist, director-social media and content, Deluxe

Brianna Gallett, vice president, Weber Shandwick

Natalie Bushaw, director-public relations, LifeTime Fitness

Gail Van Cleaf, director-corporate communications, Travelers

Lisa Grimm, director-PR and emerging media, space150

Anna Liewicki-Long, communications director, Department of Veteran Affairs

And, look a little more and you see a wealth of women that will be outstanding senior leaders in just a few short years (heck, some are already there, really):

Laura Fitzpatrick, brand strategist, Carmichael Lynch

Allison  O’Keefe, account supervisor, Exponent PR

Katie Miller, social media director, OLSON

Lauren Melcher, senior digital manager, Weber Shandwick

Christina Milanowski, vice president/social media director, Maccabee PR

Holly Spaeth, manager-interactive media and content, Polaris

Bridget Nelson Monroe, account director, Bellmont Partners

However, even with all these great women leaders, we still have a ways to go before we can say men and women are on equal footing.

Just one look at the top 25 PR firms in town tells the story.

20 are led by men.

Just 5 are led by women (Hannum, Casey, Kathryn Tunheim, Heidi Nelson and Alexis Walsko).

So, are women well-represented across leadership ranks in the Twin Cities? Yes and no.

If you go only by CEOs/presidents, I think the clear answer is “no.”

However, we know that’s not the whole story. If you look just a bit deeper at all the great and talented women at the SVP, VP, and director levels. Yeah, there are a TON of women (I really only mentioned a few up top–I could have expanded that list five times bigger quite easily).

And, I’m willing to bet we’ll see even more in those CEO/president roles very soon.

Note: Photo above courtesy of MN PRSA (two of my favorites–Anna Liewicki-Long Allison O’Keefe)



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