GMMB announced new promotions within its senior leadership, recognizing the exceptional accomplishments of nine of its leaders and positioning the firm for continued growth in the coming years.
Melissa Simpson, based in GMMB’s Seattle office, will now serve as a managing director for the firm, focused on developing and implementing public health campaigns that increase health equity. Seven of the firm’s vice presidents have been promoted to senior vice president: Sara Amalfitano, Jesse Demastrie, Kerry-Ann Hamilton, Melissa Morales and Meredith Potter, based in the Washington, D.C., office, Susie Rantz, based in the Seattle office, and AJ Lenar, based in South Carolina. Jennifer Kohl has been appointed as Director of Media Relations.
Simpson leads the public health communications work for GMMB’s Seattle office, specializing in integrated social marketing campaigns that reach key audiences through multiple touch points—advertising, earned media, digital engagement and innovative grassroots outreach tactics. With a particular expertise in youth substance use prevention, Melissa led campaigns that educate about the risks and consequences of marijuana, address misperceptions of underage drinking among teens, and shine a light on the tobacco industry’s targeting of young people. Increasing access to health care and health coverage is another focus of Melissa’s work. Melissa will continue to partner with her clients to increase equity through expanding access to resources and information that keep people safe and healthy.
Amalfitano, in her 16th year at GMMB, directs project management for creative work across the firm. In addition to ensuring that GMMB’s creative campaigns and deliverables align with client budget and timing needs, Sara works to continually refine the firm’s creative process, paving the way for maximum innovation, collaboration and efficiency.
Demastrie has been planning and executing fully integrated media campaigns with candidates, committees, issue groups, associations and non-profit clients for 14 years. With particular expertise at the cross section of data, technology, and media planning and buying, Jesse’s work has been at the forefront of the rapidly evolving political advertising landscape. His work in 2017 helped elect a Democratic Senator from Alabama for the first time in 25 years, stop the repeated GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and develop and refine technology to make clients’ paid media more targeted and efficient.
Hamilton is an experienced communications counselor with a proven track record of creating and maintaining high-impact strategic communications campaigns for foundations, universities and mission-driven organizations. A leader in GMMB’s brand practice, Kerry-Ann helps organizations develop inspiring identities that express their mission in clear and compelling ways; she designs tailored launch campaigns that bring purpose-driven brands to life. Prior to GMMB, Kerry-Ann spent nearly a decade as a higher education communications executive. She leverages her extensive experience in crisis and issues management, diversity advancement, change and transition execution and board governance.
Kohl, a seasoned strategist with a special emphasis on crisis communications, messaging and earned media, leads GMMB’s media relations team and provides strategic counsel on broader communications and public affairs efforts across the firm. Jen works on accounts across all issue areas to create and lead unique, targeted campaigns that help clients raise their profiles among key audiences. GMMB’s clients often draw on her political experience and expertise to successfully manage public relations and overall reputation management. During her time at GMMB, Jen has grown the firm’s media relations and crisis communications capacity.
Lenar specializes in helping the firm’s political clients find their ‘voice,’ enabling them to authentically connect with voters. AJ has developed strategies and award-winning advertising for leading foundations and labor unions, as well as mayoral, House, Senate, gubernatorial, ballot measure and presidential campaigns in the U.S. and abroad. Most recently, AJ led the advertising strategy for Archie Parnell’s special election campaign in South Carolina, creating ads hailed by news outlets across the country for their creativity. AJ currently leads GMMB’s work for VoteVets, one of America’s top veterans’ advocacy groups. In 2012, AJ was a key player on the core creative team that re-elected then President Barack Obama. One of the ads AJ created for the president was awarded “Best Television Advertisement of The Year” by Campaigns and Elections Magazine—an honor he again earned in 2015 for an ad he created on immigration.
Morales brings more than a decade of experience at GMMB to the firm’s health coverage team. Melissa’s work has been rooted in the passage, implementation and protection of the Affordable Care Act to ensure all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care. Most recently, her work has led to successful marketing and outreach campaigns for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. In 2018, Melissa will lead GMMB’s work on campaigns to protect the safety net for the nation’s most vulnerable populations and to promote healthy development for children and adolescents.
Potter specializes in integrated public health and health care campaigns, helping clients make meaningful change and improve lives—whether it’s reducing the sugar they consume from beverages or replacing their recalled airbags. Merideth has developed national advertising campaigns to influence public opinion and policy at the local, state and national levels. For the last nine years, she has worked with the American Beverage Association and its member companies on practical, industry-wide solutions to the problem of obesity, including national consumer education campaigns. Merideth also currently leads GMMB’s work with UnitedHealth Group’s paid media campaign.
Rantz is a leader on GMMB’s education team, specializing in digital and strategic communications campaigns that seek to expand opportunity for America’s students. With a particular expertise working with education foundations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Susie’s work has helped organizations measure the effectiveness of their communications efforts, grow their reach among key audiences and ultimately expand high-quality education options for students and families across the U.S. She also helps philanthropic leaders hone their unique voice through speeches, social media strategy, content creation and media training.