When I began my career in PR nearly 40 years ago, thoughts of running my own agency did not cross my mind. I was just out of college when I started as a receptionist at Hill + Knowlton Strategies without much of an idea of what the job would bring. But I had a knack for the work — and I was lucky to find myself in an environment that supported growth. A few years in, I was the youngest vice president and general manager in the history of the agency.
A decade later, when I was laying out the plans for what would become PAN Communications, I still didn’t know exactly what our agency would look like — and even today, part of the joy comes from never knowing exactly what each day will bring. But I knew that no matter what, we would always put people first. No matter how much we grew or what challenges we were up against, PAN would always be a place where any individual could build a career commensurate with their personal and professional goals.
As we begin our 27th year as an agency, I can confidently say that we continue to grow and innovate at a pace that belies our maturity. And as we see our business opportunities expanding, it’s critical that we not lose sight of our people and the work they do every day. Our goals as a business and as an employer go hand in hand — we cannot support our clients’ needs without the excellent work of our employees, and we cannot recruit and retain exceptional talent without securing and expanding meaningful work.
The changes we’re making today not only help us to continue surpassing those inextricable goals, but also reflect the priorities that have guided PAN since day one. By realigning our leadership team and creating new roles that reflect the priorities of our workforce, PAN is positioned to seize new business opportunities and secure purposeful work for our people. As ever, it was critical to me that these promotions come from within our organization — a commitment that sets us apart and shows our employees that there is more than one way to grow at PAN. Your career and success are yours to shape, and our new group of leaders will make that possible.
No matter how much we grew or what challenges we were up against, PAN would always be a place where any individual could build a career commensurate with their personal and professional goals.
In line with my beliefs, I shared this news internally first at our All Staff meeting in mid-January.
I am thrilled and so proud to share these new promotions and roles and to hear from our newly promoted leaders what this change means to them.
Nikki Festa O’Brien: Nikki will drive strategic growth for clients with a particular focus on PAN’s UK and global programs, bringing her unique expertise to high-growth moments to help clients on the road to IPO.
“More than anything, I’m excited about the ability to influence change — change within the agency, change for our clients, and change in how the industry thinks about IM and PR.”
Megan Kessler: Megan will take the knowledge and expertise in storytelling and narrative that she honed as the PAN Team Media lead and bring it to client programs to support messaging, strategic program alignment and employer branding.
“I am fascinated by the business of agency and love solving problems and strategizing at that level. This promotion comes with greater autonomy to test my leadership mettle at the agency versus portfolio level.”
Dan Martin: Dan will lead a dedicated group of VPs as he transforms our healthcare practice to guide strategic growth of our mid to late-stage business and support client acquisition, organic growth and recruitment and development of staff.
“I’ve always been a big believer in culture and people. PAN has both of those in spades and is led by the best c-suite in the business. I am honored they have the faith and confidence in me to continue to lead our healthcare practice and take it to the next level.”
Brandon Thomas: As PAN’s first Head of DEI, Brandon will drive strategic initiatives to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusivity remain top of mind in our business and employee growth agendas.
“Our PAN leadership team is filled with some of the smartest professionals I have ever had the opportunity to work alongside. To be included in this well-deserved, hardworking group is an absolute honor. I’m excited for the opportunity to provide strategies, resources and solutions that can help people both internally and externally grow in their own personal DEI journey.”
Kate Connors: As PAN’s first Head of PAN Virtual, Kate will direct the growth and expansion of our vibrant virtual community, ensuring remote employees enjoy the same culture and camaraderie as our physical office locations.
“I’ve always felt that culture is not about where employees work but how they come together to embrace our company values and collaborate. I’ll be able to work with our incredible leadership team to make this a reality for our virtual employee base, and I think this will be the most exciting and impactful work of my career!”
Along with our new EVPs and culture leaders, I am very excited to share that our current team of EVPs will join me in creating the PAN C-suite. I’ve worked closely with Mark Nardone, Elizabeth Famiglietti, Darlene Doyle and Gary Torpey for many years and couldn’t be happier to have them by my side for the future.
The past few years have been unsettling. As a community and as an agency we’ve experienced endless new challenges — difficult, complicated ones without easy solutions. We’ve seen time and again that we can’t prepare for every inevitability, but with the changes we’re making today, I feel better than ever about our future. We are primed for our next steps, and I can’t wait to see what we can do together.