Leo Burnett Vet Karen McKinley Joins Gatesman as Executive Vice President, Chief Creative Officer

By Erik Oster Comment

Pittsburgh-based agency Gatesman, which recently expanded to Chicago and Springfield, Missouri, hired Karen McKinley to serve as executive vice president, chief creative officer.

In the role, McKinley will be tasked with elevating the agency’s creative identity, enhancing client work and “inspiring connectivity, innovation and collaboration” across Gatesman’s offices.

McKinley joins Gatesman from Made Movement in Boulder, Colorado, where she has spent the past four years serving as creative director. Prior to that she spent around a year and a half in that role at Leo Burnett, following nearly three years as a copywriter with Martin Williams. Her agency experience also includes stints at Campbell Mithun and Carmichael Lynch. Over the course of her career she has worked with clients including Under Armour, Verizon, Subaru, Lyft, Target, Walmart, Porsche, General Motors, Kellogg’s, Jim Beam, Pfizer and Church’s Chicken.

“Karen takes smart, original and breakthrough ideas to another level. She is a tremendous creative leader with raw talent, diverse experience, sharp wit and a side-splitting sense of humor,” Gatesman CEO John Gatesman said in a statement, “and on top of all that, she is an inspirational leader who embraces the change the industry is going through and will collaborate with our diverse disciplines to push the work and business to a new level.”

“I’ve spent 20 years in advertising, the last four working with some of the greatest talent in the business. I’m beyond excited to lead a creative department at an agency like Gatesman,” McKinley added. “The potential here is impressive. Besides creating innovative work for our clients, I hope to take what I’ve learned and make it the kind of work environment that’s respectful, inspiring and fun.”

McKinley’s arrival follows the appointment of Shannon Baker who runs the 125-person agency alongside Gatesman, to agency president last November.

“While not yet fully embraced industry-wide, the shift to elevate and promote talented, creative and ambitious women to positions of power is a no-brainer. One of the most counterintuitive statistics is that women control nearly 80 percent of consumer spending, yet very few women make it to the c-suite in business,” added Gatesman. “In addition to Shannon and Karen, our agency’s leadership team is comprised of more than 60 percent women. That makes a statement to young women trying to break in to the industry about our agency and our culture.”

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