Kathleen Henson [Bio] – Women Driving Excellence 2016 Honoree
For more than two decades, Kathleen Henson has enjoyed a diverse career in public relations and communications, working with some of the country’s most recognizable companies and brands. With unequaled energy, charisma and drive, Kathleen expertly and instinctually connects people, events and ideas to create big media moments that generate impactful, lasting buzz. Owner of her own PR firm with headquarters overlooking the iconic Chicago River, Kathleen is constantly and organically growing her infinite, personal arsenal of contacts — which reaches deep into America’s top newsrooms all the way to Hollywood’s elite — to creatively tell her clients’ stories.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Purdue University and former senior leader at Edelman, the nation’s leading independent PR firm, Kathleen has worked in public relations and marketing with some of the country’s most recognizable companies and brands. She started Henson Consulting (HC) in 2001 to reinvent the modern agency and to provide clients with strategic counsel, unparalleled creativity and tangible results. HC offers a broad range of consumer marketing and corporate communications support to a wide variety of international, national and Midwest based clients. Over the years, the firm has worked with blue chip clients including Kraft-Heinz Foods, Mariano’s, The Pampered Chef, Sears, Roebuck and Co., International Housewares Association, Lands’ End, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Brown Forman Beverages, Hard Rock Hotels, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Coldwell Banker, The Chicago White Sox, Potbelly Sandwich Works, AMLI Residential, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Allstate and the Allstate Foundation and the U.S. pistachio industry, among more than 100 others.
Kathleen always aims to always meet or exceed client expectations and still loves the thrill of a great media placement. Her agency generates daily high-profile media hits for clients in a variety of the world’s most reputable outlets including: TIME Magazine,USA Today, Associated Press, The TODAY Show,Chicago Tribune, Chicago SunTimes, NY Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, The Times (UK), CNN International, The Times of India, Business Week, E! News, Us Weekly, People and EXTRA, among countless others.
In July 2015, Kathleen was featured on NBC’s Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda as part of its “Happiness” series to discuss her positive outlook on work and life and personal decision to leave the big agency world to found her own agency. She has also been featured in a number of other media outlets including ABC’s Windy City Live, WGNAM and has been a frequent contributor to industry outlets including PR News, PRWeek and The Holmes Report.
In June 2015, Kathleen was included among nine Chicago “Women of Influence” in Michigan Avenue Magazine. She was also named the 2014 PR Professional of the Year in Chicago by the Public Relations Society of America and her firm was also named PR Firm of the Year nationwide by PR News in 2014. HC was also recognized as a national finalist for “boutique agency of the year” by both PRWeek and The Holmes Report that same year. Giving back is a personal passion of hers and Kathleen volunteers her time to a number of important causes in Chicago, serving for the past 4 years as cochair of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago’s Women’s Leadership Council, on the Board of Directors of Breakthrough Urban Ministries and is an active member of the prestigious Women’s Board of the Joffrey Ballet where she’s cochaired the fall fundraiser since 2013. In 2015, Kathleen and her team launched a philanthropic initiative on Instagram called “Random Acts of HC” that empowers each employee to do random acts of kindness throughout the year.
With family always being her top priority, Kathleen has been married for 18 years to her husband Mike and is the proud mother to Emily, John Henry, Haley, Brady and Finley. When she gets a moment to slow down, Kathleen is blissfully catching up on reading, cooking and spending time with her mom and dad.