Challenging the status quo. Pushing for big ideas. Striving to make a difference. These are qualities we seek in all leaders. But for agency leaders, even more is on the line.
They must set the bar high for themselves and their teams to meet increasingly higher business goals while pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation for each client engagement.
And in this year like no other, with brand spending down across the industry and creative teams pushed to collaborate remotely, agency leaders were put to the ultimate test.
Building an agency of the future
Hired in 2007 to lead ICF’s 40-person communications business, Kris quickly set it on a meteoric trajectory–expanding our communications and PR capabilities tenfold, growing an award-winning creative shop, layering in a technology organization, and attracting exceptional talent.
Fast forward to 2018 where, as part of the agency executive leadership team, she helped drive the merger of 12 legacy agencies across disparate disciplines–strategy, technology, marketing, public relations, and engagement–into a single, integrated global firm purpose-built to foster active participation to help clients build loyalty, advocacy, and an identity-level connection between their brands and stakeholders.
"Kris is a proven, effective leader with the experience and skills needed to bring ICF Next's integrated growth strategy to the next level." – John Wasson, ICF president and CEO
Leading through a pandemic
Kris assumed leadership of the agency in early 2020, one month into the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout, she has led with empathy, flexibility, and adaptability. Her focus has been on keeping staff connected and engaged with each other and our clients while keeping their wellbeing top of mind–hosting numerous open Q+A sessions, providing flexible work arrangements where needed, and bringing a sense of fun (like holding a home office decorating contest).
As a mom, she’s particularly attuned to the struggles of working women and families that have resulted in millions of women leaving the workforce, firmly believing “All leaders need to lean in now more than ever to help women and families manage this complex time.”
"We need to really make space for more connected conversations and listen closely to what someone might be saying between the lines."
Embracing diversity, inspiring future leaders
A strong advocate for diversity, Kris led the creation of ICF Next’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and is the corporate sponsor for ICF’s LGBT+ employee community network (ECN), as well as an active member of our Women’s ECN.
Kris has had many great mentors along her journey and pays it forward as a mentor herself, emphasizing “I take my role as a mentor very seriously.”
"I consider it critical to take every opportunity to share what I’ve learned over the last 30 years–that’s where some of the most important leadership development occurs."
Congratulations to Kris on this well-deserved recognition!