BOSTON--In an unexpected move, Lisa Unsworth, one of Arnold's nine managing partners, is leaving the Havas-owned agency for the presidency of the Boston Idea Group, the New England region's principal industry trade association, according to Idea Group chairman Rich Doucette.
At Boston's Arnold, Unsworth had run the $100-million ad account of the American Legacy Foundation, the national anti-smoking group in Washington, D.C. Arnold shares the Legacy business with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami. Unsworth's leadership post on Legacy will be taken up by her chief deputy, svp, group account director Paul Nelson, according to Arnold president Fran Kelly.
Unsworth joined Arnold in 1998 when the agency purchased crosstown shop Houston Herstek Favat, where she had been president. Unsworth has since been considered one of Arnold's top talents and a likely candidate to one day lead the shop, sources said. Such a scenario became less likely last week when another managing partner, Karen Driscoll, who helms Arnold's integrated services unit, was named to the new post of operations manager. That promotion made Driscoll the clear No.2 behind Kelly in terms of overseeing day-to-day operations at Arnold.
Unsworth in a prepared statement called the Idea Group post a "new career challenge" but she did not address specific reasons for leaving Arnold and taking the new job.
Sources cited a mix of personal and professional concerns, noting a desire to spend more time with her family and the fact that Legacy is only funded for another year, leaving her long-term future in some question.
Kelly described her as one of the agency's most outstanding executives and said he regrets, though understands, her decision to depart.
The Boston Idea Group's previous president, Bethany Kendall, resigned in June after five years on the job. Owing to the slow economy and general consolidation in the communications business, membership (around 6,000 at present) has been flat or slightly down in recent years, a situation Unsworth has been asked to remedy.