AAF’s Gardner to Helm Diversity at Interpublic

NEW YORK Heide Gardner, vice president of diversity and strategic programs at the American Advertising Federation in Washington, D.C., is leaving the AAF for a new diversity post at Interpublic Group, sources said.

At IPG, Gardner will become director of diversity initiatives, said sources. She is expected to leave AAF this week and start her new job next month.

Gardner, who could not be reached, will act as CEO David Bell’s point person on issues such as the recruitment of minority executives. At IPG’s last annual shareholder meeting in April, Bell acknowledged that the company needed to “do better” on this front.

At the time, Bell appointed human resources chief Brian Brooks and associate general counsel Marge Hoey to steer a related task force. The new post is an outgrowth of that effort, according to sources. In fact, Gardner is expected to report to both Brooks and Hoey. An IPG representative declined comment.

At AAF, where she spent six years, Gardner was instrumental in lobbying the Clinton administration to sign an executive order in 2000 that mandated that federal ad contracts fairly represent minority ad agencies. That same year, AAF adopted principles urging advertisers and agencies to increase diversity in the workforce.

The AAF has chosen Constance Frazier, a professor of advertising and public relations at Howard University, as Gardner’s successor, sources said. The AAF could not immediately be reached.