Top women in advertising & marketing.

AuthorConnley, Courtney

THE ADVERTISING BUSINESS IS A $33 BILLION INDUSTRY and despite women controlling 73% of consumer purchasing, recent studies show that women make up just 11% of creative leadership roles.

As the leading power women behind one of the largest multicultural advertising agencies in the country, Fay Ferguson and McGhee Williams Osse stepped into their position as co-CEOs and owners of Burrell Communications Group L.L.C. in 2004 after the firm's founder, Tom Burrell, announced his retirement. Together they own 51% of the agency, alongside French media giant Publicis Groupe.

The energy of Chicago-based Burrell (No. 6 on the be advertising agencies list with $28 million in revenues) echoes its mission of being an agency that specializes in the African American market. With a diverse group of 107 employees, Burrell's walls are proudly filled with the work it has done for McDonald's, Procter & Gamble's "My Black is Beautiful" campaign, and most recently the revival of The Wiz that aired live on NBC and earned a record 11.5 million viewers.

"Comcast, our client, made an introduction with NBC Universal," says Ferguson, "and this was a first in terms of an African American agency being given the breadth and depth of responsibility for promoting The Wiz, being involved with developing all of the assets from digital, print, radio, and helping to drive viewership."

Continuing to expand its total market reach, Burrell, named black enterprise Advertising Agency of the Year in 2002 and 2011, is currently home to several household brands, including Toyota, Hilton Worldwide, General Mills, Colony Brands, Namaste Laboratories--ORS, Enterprise Content Solutions, TracFone-Safelink, and Hillary for America.

"I think part of what was impressive to them was how we've been able to be successful with building clients and building brands," says Williams Osse, "because it's not typical for campaigns to tap non-political agencies to do this level of work."

Ferguson and Williams Osse credit their team with pushing the agency forward. With leading ladies like Creative Director Lisa McConnell, VP Media Director Adele Lassere, SVP Group Media Director Linda Jefferson, VP Media Director Deborah Gray-Young, and Associate Media Director Donna Hodge, the Burrell team is certain that they will continue to be leaders in the industry for decades to come.

"[Fay and McGhee] are very much committed to making sure that Burrell is still around in another 10, another 20 years, and they are doing that by making sure that they are anointing the next generation of leaders who will move the agency into the future," says Hodge.

BE Research identified the top women executives in advertising and marketing via a search that included, but was not limited to: the nation's leading 100 advertisers, the top 100 global marketers, general market advertising firms, be 100s advertising agencies, and ADCOLOR, a nonprofit that champions diversity in advertising and marketing.

On the agency side, we included CEOs, creative directors, and other senior executives who manage major lines of business and significantly contribute to revenues and/or billings or lead creative direction and execution. Corporate executives on the list hold senior positions, including but not limited to, CMO, EVP, and SVP, as well as directors and managers in marketing and advertising within the parent company or key operating units. We didn't include executives associated with nonprofit organizations or public relations firms. We also excluded general counsels, chief diversity officers, human resources officers, or senior managers who oversee media relations, public affairs, investor relations, community development, and government affairs.



Danielle Austen

Managing Partner & CEO

fluent 360 (formerly Team Ignition)

Nadja Bellan-White


Ogilvy & Mather Africa

Ogilvy & Mather

Kimberly A. Blackwell


PMM Agency

Fay Ferguson


Burrell Communications Group L.L.C.

Verdia E. Johnson


Footsteps L.L.C.

Monique Nelson

Chairman & CEO

UWG Inc.

Carol H. Williams

President, CEO & Chief Creative Officer

Carol H. Williams

Advertising Inc.

McGhee Williams Osse


Burrell Communications Group L.L.C.

Leslie Wingo

President & CEO

Sanders\Wingo Advertising Inc.


Gina Christie

EVP, Senior Director

BBDO Worldwide

Kelli M. Coleman



Vida M. Cornelious

EVP/Chief Creative Officer

Walton Isaacson

Traci Dinkins

Senior Partner, Account Director, Team AT&T


WPP Cos.

Esther T. Franklin

EVP, Head of SMG Americas Experience Strategy


MediaVest Group

Vita M. Harris

Chief Strategy Officer


Tracey D. Jennings



Deidre Smalls-Landau

EVP, Managing Director, Identity/UM

IPG Mediabrands


Joya R. Harris

SVP, Director, Multicultural, General Motors

Carat USA

Linda Jefferson

SVP, Group Media Services

Burrell Communications Group L.L.C.

Lisa McConnell

Creative Director

Burrell Communications Group L.L.C.

Shanteka Sigers

SVP, Executive Creative Director

Sanders\Wingo Advertising Inc.


Kirsten Atkinson

VP, Media and Brand Integration

Walton Isaacson

Ayiko Broyard

VP, Group Account Director

Walton Isaacson

Deborah Gray-Young

VP, Media Director

Burrell Communications Group L.L.C.

Kendra Hatcher King

VP, Account Planning


Nakesha Holley

VP, Integrated Communications

UWG Inc.

Adele M. Lassere

VP, Media Services

Burrell Communications Group L.L.C.

Adria Ross

VP, Associate Media Director, Identity/UM

IPG Mediabrands


Felicia D. Chandler

Director, Project Management Office

Liquid Soul Media

Robbyn K. Ennis

Media Director, Multicultural, Chevrolet

Carat USA

Donna L. Hodge

Associate Media Director, Toyota

Burrell Communications Group L.L.C.

Marissa Nance

Director, Strategic Partnerships & Multicultural Content Marketing


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