Preston Kelly CEO Retires After 36 Years

By Erik Oster 

Minneapolis agency Preston Kelly CEO Chuck Kelly is retiring after 36 years in the position.

Kelly is moving into a consultant role for the agency as he steps away from the full-time role. The agency is not naming a new CEO at this time, with president Jennifer Spire and executive vice president Chris Preston sharing leadership duties.

“What 36 years at Preston Kelly has taught me is to work with people who share like values and are motivated to succeed for the same reasons you are,” Kelly said in a statement. “Then give them the freedom to explore their thinking and amazing ideas result. I know the agency I’m leaving will get better and better at embracing its values so that even better ideas result.”


Kelly reflected on his career in a blog post, while also revealing his continued distaste for vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach. (It might just be how they’re prepared, Chuck. We can share some recipes.)

“Chris has long labeled Preston Kelly a ‘sum of the parts'”organization because we have depended on one another daily. There’s been no superstar with all of the answers. Preston Kelly is an organization of people who share the same strong desire to finish what was started and to always be there for one another. When we have created something great, we have created it together,” Kelly wrote, adding that he’s “confident the agency I’m leaving will go right on respecting one another and giving it their all.”

Before joining Preston Kelly in 1982, Kelly began his career in account management and strategy at Bozell and served as an account supervisor for FCB. Kelly was active in the 4A’s as a board member and president of its local chapter. He was a member of the Purple Forum for 18 years and served on a committee that founded the Minneapolis Creative Summit. Kelly also served as a board member and president of the local chapter of AdFed, and was part of a successful effort to oppose a sales tax on advertising services. As a longtime member and chairman of WorldWide Partners, he helped expand the network to agencies in China and Eastern Europe.

Kelly was also active in the local community. He served as board member of the YMCA of the Twin Cities for over 14 years, during which time Preston Kelly developed pro bono campaigns for the organization. He also meets with CLA agency members, speaks to advertising classes and meets with students one-on-one to discuss how to begin a career in advertising.