KATHLEEN CUPPER OBERT, APR                                    6859 Woodwalk Drive, Brecksville, Ohio 44141                ...
KATHLEEN CUPPER OBERT – PG. 7INVACARE CORPORATION (Elyria, Ohio)                                     September 1990 - Octo...
KATHLEEN CUPPER OBERT – PG. 8EXECUTIVE & INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP     WPO / World Presidents Organization Cleveland – Executiv...
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Overview of Kathleen Cupper Obert's career experiences and accomplishments

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Kathy Obert cv

  1. 1. KATHLEEN CUPPER OBERT, APR 6859 Woodwalk Drive, Brecksville, Ohio 44141  Experienced chief executive officer and board member  Trusted advisor to public and private company C-level executives  Marketing, branding, PR and investor relations strategist  Extensive consumer products and retail industry experience  Special interest in corporate governance  Unique specialization in crisis communications 330-730-5500 (mobile)  440-746-0004 (home office)  kathyobert@gmail.comCREDENTIALS SUMMARY  Kathy Obert is a multi-faceted executive with expertise in a complete range of strategic communication disciplines including traditional and digital marketing, branding, public relations, advertising, investor relations and crisis communications. While she has worked at high levels in a diverse range of industries, she has worked extensively in consumer products and in retailing.  A strategic advisor to C-Level executives of public and private corporations, Ms. Obert has counseled entities from entrepreneurial start-ups to Fortune 100 multi-nationals. To grow value, drive sales, promote brands, protect corporate reputations, achieve business objectives and strengthen key stakeholder relationships, she emphasizes accountability and the selective, effective use of paid, earned and owned forms of business communications.  Frequently at the center of pivotal moments of corporate opportunity, challenge and change, her experience includes a dozen years leading public relations, advertising and investor relations for two publicly traded Fortune 500 companies (Revco Drug Stores and Invacare Corporation), as well as two decades of public relations and advertising agency consulting experience.  For 10 years, Ms. Obert was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Edward Howard & Co., a 50-person, 85-year-old employee-owned marketing and public relations agency. Under her leadership, Edward Howard was named by The Holmes Report as One of 10 Best PR Firms to Work For; the #1 PR Agency in the U.S. for Community Involvement; One of the Best-Managed PR Firms in the U.S., and by Yankelovich Partners as The Most Highly Regarded Public Relations Agency in Ohio. To maximize shareholder value for Edward Howard employee-owners, Ms. Obert negotiated a sale of the company in 2010 at which time she became Managing Director of Fahlgren Inc. (the acquiring agency), a 160-person advertising, public relations, digital and integrated communications consultancy.  Experienced in public and private corporate governance, she served for eight years as an Independent Trustee on the Board of Directors of a publicly traded mutual fund complex with $16 billion under management (Allegiant Funds) and for 10 years as Board Chairman of a privately held, employee owned professional services firm (Edward Howard). She has a special interest in effective shareholder relations and corporate governance.  A high energy executive, Ms. Obert exhibits a powerful blend of analytical, strategic and creative skills. She is confident and articulate in counseling clients on what they need to hear (not just what they want to hear) and is a diplomatic consensus builder. She prides herself on maintaining grace under fire and on guiding teams to potential in an environment of camaraderie and accountability. Ms. Obert is a highly regarded industry leader and respected community contributor.
  2. 2. KATHLEEN CUPPER OBERT – PG. 2STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS  MARKETING / BRAND BUILDING / PR / ADVERTISING – New market entries; new product launches; line extensions; paid, earned & owned media campaigns (traditional & digital); consumer, trade & B2B advertising and public relations; social media strategies; editor & blogger outreach; consumer awareness and education campaigns; trade shows; cause and event marketing.  FINANCIAL COMMUNICATIONS / INVESTOR RELATIONS – Earnings releases; conference calls; investor road show presentations; annual reports; IPOs; spin-offs; secondary offerings; M&A; chapter 11 filings and other debt restructurings; organization restructurings; venture capital initiatives.  CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS / REPUTATION MANAGEMENT – Product liability issues; recalls; plant closings; headquarters relocations; massive layoffs; industrial accidents; sudden illness/death of key executives; litigation matters; insider trading & market timing concerns; improprieties; discrimination; white collar crime.  CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS – Corporate branding and identity; executive speechwriting, blogs & thought leadership; corporate positioning; corporate websites; corporate philanthropy; employee communications; industry leadership; labor & environmental issues; community advisory panels.OVERVIEW OF DIVERSE CLIENT & INDUSTRY EXPERIENCECONSUMER PRODUCTS – Both well-established brands and early stage start-ups in housewares, hardware,health & beauty aids, consumables, appliances, furnishings and home decor, including:  Rubbermaid  Sherwin-Williams  Kidde  Manco / Duck Tape  Hoover  Chattem / Icy Hot  Genie  Leggett & Platt  Step 2 Toys  PreventX hand sanitizer  Huffy  Imperial Home Décor  Dirt Devil  Scentsy home fragrances  Sealy  Malley’s Chocolates  Invisible Fence  Infantino baby products  Nokia  Pierre’s Ice CreamSAMPLE CONSUMER PRODUCT ENGAGEMENTS Helped Rubbermaid regain lost retail shelf space and restore consumer loyalty after production difficulties and quality issues damaged its once iconic brand. Developed strategies for Scentsy – a fledgling home fragrance brand sold through home parties – to recruit thousands of sales consultants using social media and traditional media relations. Scentsy has grown from zero to over $200 million in 5 years. Helped Kidde (residential smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors) save thousands of lives and realize a triple digit sales increase using public relations to generate 800+ million earned media impressions. Also helped boost homebuilder purchases by enhancing building codes and zoning laws in numerous communities, including Manhattan. Helped Genie generate thousands of sales leads for a new garage door opener product in a category viewed by homeowners as ‘ho-hum.’ Also helped differentiate, establish thought leadership, and double Genie’s market share in a non-core product category (utility vacs) known by a competing brand (ShopVac). Generated publicity to drive consumer trial and a 20% sales spike of EZ Start shipping tape for Manco (now Henkel) during the holiday gift-giving and mailing season. Advised Step 2, Hoover and Dirt Devil on how to protect brand and restore reputation when government agencies have recalled products and linked consumer injuries and/or fatalities to product defects.
  3. 3. KATHLEEN CUPPER OBERT – PG. 3OVERVIEW OF DIVERSE CLIENT & INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE (CONTINUED)RETAILING – Having spent 10 years as head of PR for Revco Drug Stores, Ms. Obert has a keen appreciation for the needs of retailers. Client experience encompasses mass/discount, grocery, drugstore, conveniencestore, department stores, and shopping malls including:  Target  Heinen’s Fine Foods  BP  Elder-Beerman  Walmart  Revco Drug Stores  AM/ PM  Polaris Fashion Place  Hills Stores  Dairy Mart  Rite Aid  Glimcher RealtySAMPLE RETAIL ENGAGEMENTS Created community connections and grand opening fervor launching dozens of Target Stores in new markets throughout the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Helped BP/Amoco launch new prototypes and high performance fuels. Overcame controversial store siting issues in various key markets to help support Walmart expansion strategy, and positioned Walmart as a ready news source for holiday news stories in communities. Helped Hills Stores double year over year sales by positioning them as the place “where the toys are” to generate demand for hot toys through in-store TV appearances coordinated with holiday ad campaigns. Provided crisis communications assistance to Revco and to Elder-Beerman Department Stores to maintain confidence and credibility among key audiences during chapter 11 proceedings, and in positioning them as strong competitors and/or new public companies upon their emergence.MANUFACTURING & INDUSTRIAL – Automotive, defense, specialty chemicals, mining,petroleum, advanced materials, wind energy and other industrial clients have included:  Rockwell Int’l  Sherwin-Williams  TRW  Brush Wellman  ArvinMeritor  Borden Chemicals  Hexion  Oglebay Norton  Accuride  BP / Amoco  Fire-Dex  S&Z Metalworks  Wolverine  Green Energy Tech.  Materion  Cardinal FastenerSAMPLE INDUSTRIAL ENGAGEMENTS Worked with Rockwell International to successfully spin-off its automotive business unit as a new public company (Rockwell Automotive, then Meritor, now ArvinMeritor). Drove record attendance to the firefighting industry’s largest trade show, and gained 99% brand endorsement for a new line of firefighter gear for Fire-Dex. Conducted extensive corporate rebranding campaigns for 3 separate $1 billion+ public companies whose identities were diffused as a result of extensive M&A activity: Brush Engineered Materials / Materion, Borden Chemical / Hexion (specialty chemicals) and Oglebay Norton (minerals). Generated and managed worldwide publicity to help a 25-employee manufacturer of wind turbine bolts (Cardinal Fastener) maximize an opportunity of a lifetime when Barack Obama held a town hall meeting at its factory to promote his economic stimulus plan just four days before his Inauguration. Helped Hoover overcome governmental objections to an acquisition and successfully positioned its new CEO with critical audiences, including resolving labor issues tied to the closure of a 100-year old plant.
  4. 4. KATHLEEN CUPPER OBERT – PG. 4OVERVIEW OF DIVERSE CLIENT & INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE (CONTINUED)HEALTH CARE – Medical device, biotech, pharmaceutical, and hospital clients have included:  Invacare  Cleveland Clinic  Hill Rom  NCS Health Care  NeuroControl  Synapse BioMedical  WinningLabs  SPR Therapeutics  Ben Venue  CheckPoint Surgical  Cryoma  MemberHealthSAMPLE HEALTH CARE ENGAGEMENTS Drove national awareness about FDA approval of a medical device that helped Christopher Reeve breathe without a respirator for Synapse, and of a neurostimulation implant that helped people with high level quadriplegia regain partial use of their limbs for NeuroControl. Developed crisis communication contingency plans and drills for generic drug manufacturer Ben Venue.SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT – Professional sports franchises and other sports clients have included:  Major League Baseball  Cleveland Indians  Cablevision Corp  San Francisco 49ers  Cleveland Cavaliers  Dolan Ownership Group  Thistledown Racetrack  Revco-Cleveland Marathon (w Bill Cosby & Don Shula)SAMPLE SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT ENGAGEMENTS  Achieved record attendance after promoting Major League Baseball’s All-Star FanFest Positioned the Dolan Ownership Group in the intense competition to own the Cleveland Browns franchise, and ultimately helped position them for ownership of the Cleveland Indians Guided the San Francisco 49ers through an NFL-mandated ownership change, and in regaining credibility after an inappropriate, racially and sexually charged ‘media training video for rookies’ enraged the public.FINANCIAL SERVICES, BUSINESS SERVICES, REITS – Banking, insurance, transportation, real estateand other service sector clients have included:  National City Bank  Delta AirElite  Associated Estates  U.S. Savings Bonds  Flight Options  Glimcher Realty  First Merit Bank  Action Auto Rental  DeBartolo Corp  Progressive Insurance  Capitol American  Employ Media ( . JOBS)SAMPLE SERVICE SECTOR ENGAGEMENTS  Created extensive messaging and media training programs attended by hundreds of department and branch managers at National City Bank to ensure consistency of brand throughout bank footprint. Used proprietary research and rate variance actuarial tables to generate national and regional publicity about the importance of price comparing car insurance premiums for Progressive Insurance. Employed media relations strategies to raise profiles of two private aviation entities (Delta AirElite and Flight Options) among their unique audiences at a time when corporate/charter aviation was out of vogue.
  5. 5. KATHLEEN CUPPER OBERT – PG. 5CORPORATE GOVERNANCE EXPERIENCE / ACTIVITIESCORPORATE BOARD SERVICE  Allegiant Mutual Funds (public) – Eight years (2002-2010) as Independent Trustee on the Board of Directors of this complex of 40 publicly traded, actively managed mutual funds with a range of investment objectives. Member of Audit, Compensation and Nominating Committees. Funds were sponsored by National City Bank until acquired by PNC Bank. With $16 billion under management in a highly regulated industry, the funds operated under tight SEC compliance requirements.  Edward Howard & Co. (private/ESOP) – Ten years (2000-2010) as Chairman of the Board of this privately held, employee-owned professional services consulting firm specializing in public relations, investor relations and marketing. Annual fee revenues were $6.5 million. Member of Audit, Compensation and Nominating Committees. With 40% of company stock in an ERISA-qualified plan, this hybrid ESOP organization operated under high levels of shareholder reporting requirements.  Fahlgren Inc. (family owned) – Currently serving (began March 2010) as Managing Director of this 160 person advertising, digital, PR and marketing communications agency with annual fees of $18 million.  Council of Public Relations Firms – Four years service (2006-2010) as Member of the Board of Directors for this national industry association representing the business interests of more than 100 premier global, mid-size and specialty public relations agencies. Member of the Audit, Governance, Agency Management and Membership Committees.GOVERNANCE ACTIVITIES AND EDUCATION  National Association of Corporate Directors – Member of this organization for corporate board members (2005 – 2008, and 2009 to present). Participant in various NACD director education events including the 2010 National Corporate Governance Conference in Washington, DC, as well as various NACD governance webinars and chapter professional development events.  KPMG Audit Committee Institute – Participant in KPMG Audit Committee Institute 2010 Fall Roundtable event, as well as various KPMG Audit Committee webinars on governance matters.  Investment Company Institute (ICI) / Independent Directors Council (IDC) – Attendee at multiple national conferences (2002 – 2009) focused on the needs of mutual fund independent directors. The IDC is an independent governance-focused group within the ICI, a national trade association of U.S. investment companies.  Directors Corporate Governance Exchange – Participant in 2010 Fall Corporate Governance Exchange event sponsored by Jones Day, The Corporate Governance Alliance, Chartis and Russell Reynolds.  National Investor Relations Institute – Member for many years (1989 - 2004) of this professional association focused on best practices in shareholder communications for publicly traded companies.  YPO/WPO International Public and Private Company Directors Group – Member of this sub-group within Young Presidents / World Presidents Organization. Co-chair of Public and Private Dompany Directors Group Breakfast Roundtable event in Denver in February 2011.  Turnaround Management Institute – Member (1994 – 2000).
  6. 6. KATHLEEN CUPPER OBERT – PG. 6CHRONOLOGICAL DETAILSWOODWALK REPUTATION GROUP, LLC (Brecksville, Ohio) June 2011 - presentCo-Founder, Chairman and Principal of Woodwalk Reputation Group, a newly formed consultancy providinglimited executive-level consulting services in the areas of marketing strategy and corporate reputation.I currently focus my time on a few select client engagements.FAHLGREN MORTINE (Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio) January 2010 – June 2011With 160 employees in 11 offices and clients in 26 states, Fahlgren has annual net fee revenue of $18 millionand is one of the nation’s largest independently owned integrated communications companies offering a fullrange of advertising, branding, public relations, investor relations, social media and digital communicationsservices. Fahlgren’s offering is the largest in Ohio and one of the Top 5 in the Midwest.Managing Director – In 2010, Fahlgren Inc. acquired all outstanding shares of Edward Howard and Ms. Obertbecame a member of the Fahlgren Inc. executive team with a focus on the integration of the Edward Howardbusiness into Fahlgren, and on driving business development for all Fahlgren advertising, public relations anddigital business units through M&A recruiting, and client and market share growth. Ms. Obert left Fahlgren aspart of a planned transition in June 2011 following the successful integration of the two companies.EDWARD HOWARD & CO. (Cleveland, Ohio) October 1992 - January 2010Founded in 1925, Edward Howard was the nation’s longest established independent public relations agency.With professional fees of $6.5 million and 50 employees, the firm’s distinct focus was on providingsophisticated communications solutions to complex business opportunities and problems. Edward Howardhad wholly owned offices in Cleveland, Columbus, Akron and Dayton and affiliates in 60 markets globallythrough equity in Pinnacle Worldwide.Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer (February 2000 – March 2010)Senior Vice President (October 1992 – February 2000)  Selected as CEO to succeed retiring executives in 2000. Oversaw P&L and all executive management functions including vision and strategic direction for the firm, client service standards, marketing, new business development, recruiting, professional development, finance, systems and administration. Developed and executed annual strategic business plan for the agency.  Reconfigured and expanded board to include independent directors.  Expanded and extended employee ownership, and employee ownership mentality. Realigned compensation and benefits programs to reward desired behaviors.  Represented agency to the industry at a national level and in the communities it serves.  Advised clients and built agency revenue through traditional and online public relations consulting, corporate and marketing communications, investor relations, financial communications, media relations, media training, crisis communications, public affairs, social media, environmental communications, issues management, community relations, online communities, employee communications and special events, and through a full range of creative services including branding and corporate identity, traditional and interactive design, annual reports, website design, collateral materials, B2B and image advertising, and trade shows.  Established new time and billing system to improve accuracy of client reporting.  Built standards to increase employee participation on community boards, simultaneously enhancing morale and raising our profile with key community leaders.
  7. 7. KATHLEEN CUPPER OBERT – PG. 7INVACARE CORPORATION (Elyria, Ohio) September 1990 - October 1992Invacare (NYSE: IVC) is the world’s largest manufacturer of home medical equipment and long-term careproducts including wheelchairs, respiratory products, homecare beds and patient aids. The company hasrevenue of $1.7 billion and 6,000 employees at facilities in 30 countries.Director of Advertising & Public Relations (reported to CEO, CFO and EVP of Sales & Marketing)  Directed advertising and corporate public relations functions and programming designed to build visibility and enhance key relationships with employees, media, health care professionals, medical equipment dealers, patients, caregivers, people with disabilities, advocacy groups, investors, analysts, acquisition targets, government and community leaders.  Supported CFO with investor relations, earnings releases, quarterly conference calls, investor presentations, road shows, and annual reports.  Selected and managed advertising, public relations and investor relations agencies.  Served as primary media spokesperson and built relationships with national business media and with trade and professional journals. Placed favorable stories in Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Investor’s Business Daily, and a plethora of trade and professional journals.  Managed all product introductions, advertising, literature, marketing, dealer communications, trade shows. Created Action Digest, a custom publication for people with disabilities.  Oversaw corporate sponsorship of wheelchair sporting events (e.g. Paralympics, Paralyzed Veterans of America Games), disabled artists (Dancing Wheels) and targeted philanthropy (e.g. Easter Seals).  Provided crisis communications counsel during high profile FDA recall of allegedly defective battery harnesses which caused wheelchair fires resulting in several tragic deaths.  Supported government relations efforts related to Medicare reimbursement with executive speechwriting, white papers and publicity initiatives.REVCO DRUG STORES (Twinsburg, Ohio) August 1980 - August 1990Prior to the CVS acquisition, Revco was the largest drugstore chain in the U.S. with revenues of $2.7 billion,3,000 stores in 31 states, and 31,000 employees. Revco was publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.Subsidiaries included vitamin manufacturers, a chain of discount stores, and institutional pharmacy services.Director of Public Relations (reported to CEO)  Managed corporate public relations department of 16 during time when Revco was the fastest growing retailer in America, during its troubled leveraged buyout, during its chapter 11 restructuring, and during its remarkable turnaround under innovative CEO Boake Sells.  Directed public relations function including media relations, investor relations, community relations, crisis communications, philanthropy and customer relations.  Acted as primary corporate spokesperson. Named by journalists as the single best media relations source in the retail drug industry (Yankelovich research).  Selected & managed public relations agencies and marketing services suppliers.  Handled employee communications, benefit communications and training initiatives for corporate, store, distribution center and subsidiary employees.  Administered Revco Foundation and other community relations activities.  Handled publicity, events and community relations for the Revco-Cleveland Marathon and 10K, a world class Olympic-qualifying event with more than 15,000 runners.
  8. 8. KATHLEEN CUPPER OBERT – PG. 8EXECUTIVE & INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP  WPO / World Presidents Organization Cleveland – Executive Committee and Board of Directors (2009 – present); Education Chairman (2011-2012) and incoming Chapter Chairman (2012 – 2013)  YPO / Young Presidents Organization Cleveland –Board of Directors (2004 – 2006); Forum Moderator (2001 - 2009). Day Chair for various events.  YPO / WPO International – Serve on International Branding and Public Relations Task Force for this organization of 16,000 CEOs in 300 countries at request of Simon Preston, former international chairman. (2008 – present)  Council of Public Relations Firms – Founding Member (2000); National Board of Directors (2006 – 2010). Served on Audit, Governance; Agency Management; and Membership Committees.  Pinnacle Worldwide – Served on global board of directors (2002 – 2006) for this global network of 65 independently owned marketing & public relations agencies with 1500 combined employees.  Public Relations Society of America (national) – Judging Committees for Silver Anvil and Bronze Anvil national industry awards (2009 – 2011)  Public Relations Society of America (Cleveland) – Served on Board of Directors (1994 - 2000); Served as Membership Chair, Education Chair, Diversity Chair; Fourth Tuesdays Program Chair.  PRSA Counselors Academy – Served on Program Steering Committee for National Conference  Other professional memberships – National Investor Relations Institute; Association for Corporate Growth; Turnaround Management Association; International Association of Business CommunicatorsCOMMUNITY LEADERSHIP  Leadership Cleveland – Graduate, class of 2002  City Year Cleveland – Board of Directors; Nominating Committee Chair  Business Volunteers Unlimited – Board of Directors  Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art – Board of Directors  Greater Cleveland Partnership / Commission on Economic Inclusion – Board of Directors  Cleveland Clinic Foundation Women’s Health Leadership Board – Board of Directors  Other community memberships – The 50 Club, Cleveland City ClubHONORS & RECOGNITION  Top 15 Women Leaders in Public Relations - PR Week (2009)  100 Most Influential People in Northeastern Ohio – Smart Business News (2004)  Cleveland Women of Distinction – Crain’s Cleveland Business (2004)  PRSA Lighthouse Award Recipient – Named Region’s Most Outstanding PR Practitioner (2005)  #1 Agency in the United States for Community Involvement – The Holmes Report (2006)  Top 10 U.S. PR Agencies to Work For – The Holmes Report (2005)  5 Top Women in Business Leaders – Smart Business Cleveland (2003)  Industry Awards – Dozens of professional awards for results produced on behalf of clients from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Arthur Page Society, International Association of Business Communicators, and Women in Communications. Most significant is a Best of Silver Anvil, PRSA’s highest national award, given to the single best PR campaign of any type. Obert earned a Best of Silver Anvil for a crisis communications program she managed for Revco Drug Stores.EDUCATION & NON-GOVERNANCE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT  Westminster College (New Wilmington, Penna.) – B.A. Business Administration, cum laude, (1980)  CPRF / Harvard Program on Professional Service Firm Leadership (2006, 2007 and 2008)  Young Presidents Organization – Forum Moderator Training (2003)  Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School, Performance Management Studies (1999)  PRSA Accreditation – Tested for and achieved APR /Accreditation in Public Relations status (1988)