The BrandLab Names Maggie McCracken CEO

By Kyle O'Brien 

The BrandLab, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that connects people from diverse backgrounds to the marketing industry, has hired Maggie McCracken as its new CEO.

McCracken takes over from Ellen Walthour, who had been with The BrandLab since its inception in 2009, rising from program director to executive director and to CEO in 2018, before stepping down from the role in December 2020. McCracken will lead day-to-day operations for the organization and work closely with the staff and board of directors to advance The BrandLab’s mission across five markets nationwide, starting May 3.

“We are thrilled to welcome Maggie McCracken to The BrandLab,” said board chair Mike Caguin, CCO at Colle McVoy, in a statement. “Maggie brings a unique collection of experiences from the best of the nonprofit and marketing industry sectors that make her the perfect CEO to lead The BrandLab into the future and continue creating real change.”

Caguin led the CEO search committee that found McCracken, who most recently served as executive director of Edina Give and Go, a mission-driven nonprofit focused on unlocking opportunities for students. During her tenure there, McCracken established a new strategic approach that grew the organization’s funding by 50% and tripled the number of students served. Prior to that position, McCracken served in a variety of leadership positions in the nonprofit and corporate sector, including the Target Corporation, where she led the retailer’s strategic marketing program.

“It is an honor to join The BrandLab, a trailblazing organization that builds pathways for students and workplace readiness to close the longstanding opportunity gap in the marketing industry,” said McCracken in a statement. “I look forward to growing The BrandLab in a sustainable way and seeing the next wave of talent–talent that is underrepresented in our industry–step in and realize their full potential.”

The BrandLab, which also has an office in Kansas City, recently led a charge of more than 40 agencies in Minneapolis and Kansas City, that pledged to share their workforce diversity data. The organization also just launched LabFellows, a paid fellowship program, in partnership with Best Buy, UnitedHealth Group’s Optum and Wunderman Thompson’s Midwest office.