McKinney Names Chief Strategy Officer and N.Y. Managing Director

New leadership in agency's 2 offices

Today McKinney announced two major changes to its leadership team: the hiring of Kerry Fitzmaurice as managing director in New York and the promotion of Walt Barron to chief strategy officer.

Barron has spent more than a decade with the Cheil Worldwide agency, joining in the account planner role in 2005. Since then he became vp and group strategy director before leaving briefly for a vp of strategy role at New Orleans independent agency Peter Mayer. He rejoined McKinney in the vp/head of planning position in 2012 and later helped the agency win the ESPN SEC Network account and expand its relationship with Samsung.

In the new role, Barron will move between the agency's offices in New York and Durham, N.C., overseeing creative strategy, research and analytics, and participating in new business pitches.

In explaining his approach to the position, Barron told Adweek, "Strategy at McKinney has a singular focus: Serve creativity." He adds that "putting people at the core of our strategy, instead of a brand's will, creates empathy for everyone touching the work."

Chief creative officer Jonathan Cude has high praise for Barron, stating that he would "share a desk with Walt" and calling him "the most creatively oriented strategist in the business."

Kerry Fitzmaurice joins the agency as managing director of its New York office after holding leadership positions at KBS, Mother and 72andSunny. In her most recent role, she served as global CMO for Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal and Partners, but she began her career in a place far from the ad agency world.

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Fitzmaurice worked for the EPA in Washington, D.C., and earned her master's degree in industrial environmental management at Yale. She later became a consultant, moved into production, worked on the set of Magnolia with Paul Thomas Anderson and founded the PR agency unlockPR, which was later acquired by 72andSunny.

After spending several years at that shop, she came home to New York to serve as director of new business and communications at Mother before joining KBS and launching her own consultancy and assisting agency leaders across the city on strategy and internal culture.

Regarding the latest stage of her unusual career trajectory, Fitzmaurice said, "I feel like I found a home with the incredibly talented and good people at McKinney." She joins the agency's New York-based leadership team, which includes CMO Adam Levine and ecd Peter Nicholson.

Brad Brinegar, who McKinney promoted to the chairman/CEO role in August, tells Adweek that Fitzmaurice was the agency's "unanimous choice out of a very strong group of candidates," citing her "great passion for the work" in explaining the hire.

Fitzmaurice adds, "Throughout my experiences, I have learned that great work comes from a place of vulnerability and compassion. It is hard to come up with big ideas, and it is hard to buy great ideas."

This news follows the departure of former McKinney New York MD George Nguyen, who left the agency earlier this summer after about one year to become group planning lead at R/GA.