James Wright

One of the most recognized agency heads in the world, James is global chairman of the Havas PR Global Collective agencies and global CEO of Red Havas, a global micro-network of Merged Media agencies. Before moving to the U.S., James was formerly group CEO of the Havas-owned Red Agency Australia and responsible for Havas-owned PR agencies across the Asia-Pacific region between 2011-2018. He advised brands including AWS, Capgemini, Coca-Cola, Heineken, Mondelēz, Novartis, Toyota, Yahoo7 and the Australian government. He also served as chief commercial officer for Havas Group Australia/New Zealand, working across advertising, PR and media.

Under his leadership, the Red Agency transformed into a regional powerhouse of creativity and one of the most awarded agencies in the Asia-Pacific region, winning multiple Agency of the Year titles. In 2017, PR Asia named James Agency Head of the Year at its annual awards show, and PR Awards Asia named him Asia-Pacific PR Agency Head of the Year. That year, he was also the Australian PR juror for the Cannes Lions Festival, the second time he has performed the role, having previously done it in 2013. In 2008, at the age of just 28, he won the coveted PRCA’s Consultant of the Year (U.K.) and the same year was named International CSR Leader by PR News USA at its All Stars Awards. In 2016, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, one of the youngest ever admitted.

James joined the Havas Group in 2011 from the U.K. Previously, he was managing director at international agency Grayling, where he led international accounts including BT, HSBC, Sony, Jaguar and Land Rover.

Katie McSorley
President, Mid-Atlantic

Katie’s expertise encompasses positioning and messaging, strategy development, media relations, employee and customer relations, community relations, cause marketing, and crisis and issues management. In her more-than-25-year career, she has worked with Transitions Optical, PPG Industries, Bayer MaterialScience, Emerson Process Management, Heinz, Alcoa, US Steel, Nestlé, Jenny Craig, GNC, Johnson & Johnson, PerkinElmer, Kaldewei, Wexford Health and the Nursing Society. Katie is a Manhattanville College graduate with a bachelor’s in English.

Linda Descano, CFA®
Executive Vice President, Philadelphia

Linda joined Havas PR in 2015 to spearhead the agency’s digital, social and measurement practice areas. With more than 15 years of experience, she specializes in providing strategic counsel and tactical implementation of integrated communications programs, incorporating PR, media relations, social media, content partnerships, influencer marketing, thought leadership and advertising. Her work includes a variety of sectors including financial services, economic development, pharma and corporate responsibility. Previously, Linda was managing director and global head of content marketing and social media at Citi, where she launched numerous digital firsts and served as president and CEO of Women & Co., the bank’s award-winning financial lifestyle community for women. Her honors include PR News’ 2018 PR Professional of the Year, 2018 Campaign U.S. Digital 40 Over 40, 2014 Fox Information Technology Distinguished Alumni Award from the Fox School of Business at Temple University, 2014 Pinnacle in Leadership Award from the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, and 2013 Changing the Game Award from Advertising Women of New York (now known as She Runs It).  Linda also served as a judge for The Content Council Pearl Awards in 2018 and 2017. Linda serves as a capstone mentor and advisory council member for the Fox School of Business M.S. in Digital Innovation in Marketing program. She currently serves on the board of directors of New York Women in Communications (and is a past president) and Servo Annex, a digital consultancy.

Davitha Ghiassi
Executive Vice President, Social and Integration

Davitha is a strategic leader, subject-matter expert and senior strategist with in-depth knowledge about all areas of the social realm. Having grown up in Amsterdam, Davitha has gained life and work experience across multiple markets including Europe (Amsterdam, Istanbul), Australia (Sydney) and most recently New York, where she heads Red Havas’ social media offering across North America and the U.K. Davitha is a regular social media guest lecturer for educational entities and is co-author of the world’s first government-accredited social media degree, developed in partnership with Social Media College.

With a skill set spanning channel selection, content strategy, production, community engagement, crisis management, performance analysis, insights development, paid social amplification and influencer marketing, Davitha has developed and implemented successful social media and integrated communications strategies for brands across a wide variety of categories. These include travel, tourism and hospitality (Southern Great Barrier Reef, South Australia Tourism, Caravanning Queensland, Pancakes on the Rocks); FMCG (Vegemite, Hungry Jack’s, Yoplait); automotive (Toyota); alcohol (Moet & Chandon, Heineken, Veuve Clicquot, Chandon, Cellarbrations, Bottle-O, Dan Murphy’s); beauty (Revlon, SinfulColors, Goodness Beauty Lab); healthcare (Aspen Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi); and technology (Reckon, Fix it Faster).

Karina Meckel
Executive Vice President, Director of Strategy

Karina enhances strategic processes agency-wide. Her guidance has become essential for most of our projects, from top-level initiatives to new-business pitches, across all sectors. Named to PRWeek’s 40 Under 40 list for her strategy work at Red Havas, Karina joined the company as a junior planner in 2004, then quickly rose to lead planner on the Nestlé Frozen Foods business and planner on Charles Schwab. She drove significant strategic change for Nestlé’s Lean Cuisine in 2007 by moving it from a diet brand to a key player in the wellness space. This shift resulted in Lean Cuisine’s reaching its goal: becoming a billion-dollar brand. More recently, she worked on Coty Inc. when its CEO left in the midst of the company preparing for its IPO. She helped launch Red Havas’ youth marketing think tank and developed unique marketing research approaches to gain an in-depth knowledge of the youth target for brands such as Clearasil and Pepsi. Karina is a graduate of Brown University.

Megan Rokosh
Global CMO

Megan is the global CMO for Red Havas as well as for Havas Health & You, the world’s largest health and wellness network. As such, she is responsible for overseeing the marketing efforts across the network’s 4,000 employees in over 70 countries. Previously the head of communications for Havas NA, Megan has raised the agency’s profile to top 5 and created platforms like Bands & Brands, earning her an invite to Harvard’s Business of Media, Entertainment and Sports program. With 13 years of global communications experience, Megan has worked across media, PR, agency, production, creative, strategy and as talent for brands and partners including the NHL, MLB, Disney, UMG, UN Women, Forbes, Cannes, ANA and Walmart. She previously directed strategy for Rogers Communications, a 26.6B multimedia company. Megan holds an honors commerce degree with a specialization in marketing and speaks English, French and Spanish.

Natasha Carroll
Senior Vice President, Global Clients & Business Director

Natasha is responsible for managing global clients and driving integration across agencies in the Red Havas network. An award-winning communications consultant with experience across Asia-Pacific and North America, she has managed large-scale global campaigns, working to coordinate multiple markets to drive results. Natasha is passionate about people and takes an active role in supporting the growth of agency talent and young professionals in the industry. She has a proven ability to build world-class teams that deliver the highest quality and quantity of work and have fun doing it.

She has spent the last decade working within an integrated agency network, gaining a unique understanding of creative, media and digital partners and how to best integrate earned media into the heart of client campaigns. Prior to joining the Red Havas global team, Natasha was VP of the Corporate & Consumer division at sister agency Havas Formula, where she oversaw key accounts, including Jaguar Land Rover and ADP. She moved to the U.S. in 2016 after seven years with Red Agency (Red Havas Australia), where she worked with leading global brands, including Google, Yahoo, Coca-Cola, Moet-Hennessy, Reckitt-Benckiser, Mondelēz International, SAP, Capgemini and the United Nations Foundation. She was also responsible for managing corporate communications for the Havas Group in Australia.

Melanie Klausner
Senior Vice President, Media Relations, New York

Melanie joined Red Havas in November 2017 as senior vice president of media relations, providing counsel to corporate and consumer clients. She has more than 15 years’ experience in the lifestyle, food and beverage, and travel and hospitality industries, as well as expertise with corporate reputation, issues management, cause, sustainability and education. Melanie specializes in results-oriented strategies and creative public relations tactics that bring fresh perspectives to client messaging.

Before joining Red Havas, Melanie was at Finn Partners and managed New York State’s I LOVE NY Tourism campaign, including the launch of the TASTE NY program. She has secured client coverage in national outlets, including The New York Times, Bloomberg TV, Reuters, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Wine & Spirit, Wine Spectator, Beverage Media, Nation’s Restaurant News and Tasting Panel.

Courtney Myers
Senior Vice President, Pittsburgh

Combining experience in business-to-business, consumer, healthcare and technology with a background in art and design, Courtney provides clients a unique perspective on branding and public relations. From strategic counsel and planning to execution, she advises clients on public relations, CSR programs, brand development, company vision, thought leadership and direct marketing campaigns. Courtney is responsible for the ongoing management and development of a range of tactics for clients using traditional, broadcast and social strategies, including media relations, brand and message development, speeches and multi-media presentations, print and video creative, trade shows and special events, and digital marketing. Her efforts have resulted in numerous industry awards for media relations, social media and creative CSR tactics, including the 2013 Bronze Anvil for speeches and Silver Anvil for special events. She has also been named the PR Practitioner of Year by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Business Marketing Association. Courtney graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a bachelor’s in industrial design.

Lesley Sillaman
Senior Vice President, Global

Lesley joined Red Havas in 2006, and since then has been immersed as strategist, content and speech writer, media relations specialist and trainer. She manages the Havas PR Global Collective, coordinating its cross-border work with Havas teams around the world, including on the Kellogg’s snacks and cereals business in EMEA. For Transitions Optical, Lesley launched the Transitions Adaptive Sunwear brand, and has introduced various new products with global brand names like Oakley, Nike, Callaway, Bell and Shoei. She has also been the executive speechwriter for the company’s annual flagship partner education event, Transitions Academy. For Sodexo, Lesley led the planning, messaging strategy and media outreach for the company’s first “Quality of Life” Conference, an international symposium in New York. And for 10 years, she has led all media, content development and partnership initiatives for International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association. Lesley was named PR News’ PR Professional of the Year in 2016. She received her bachelor’s from the University of Dayton and her master’s from the Annenberg School for Communications.

Pattie Sullivan
Senior Vice President, Pittsburgh

From ketchup and polyurethanes to nutritional supplements and process control systems, Pattie Sullivan applies her strategic counsel, media insight and award-winning writing to clients in diverse industries. Since joining Havas PR in 1997, she has worked with such organizations as the American Chemistry Council, Bayer MaterialScience (now Covestro), Emerson Automation Solutions and Heinz North America. Her experience runs the gamut from product launches and special event organization to trade show support, technical writing and everything in between. Pattie leverages her journalism background to develop and deliver crisis communications/media training modules that help prepare clients to communicate using traditional and social media channels. She also actively counsels clients on boosting the visibility of their sustainable activities in renewable energy, eco-friendly building and construction, and alternative energy vehicles. Her freelance stories have appeared in Advertising Age and a monthly Pittsburgh business magazine, and she has won a number of writing awards throughout her career, including three awards for writing excellence from the National Federation of Presswomen’s Pennsylvania Chapter. In 2009, she was named PR Practitioner of the Year by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Business Marketing Association. Pattie graduated from Duquesne University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

Stephanie Clarke
Vice President, Phoenix

Stephanie (almost singlehandedly) founded our Arizona office in 2015, increasing media impressions for our first client, Fox Restaurant Concepts, by 650 percent the first year. She has also supervised clients including the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program, Luminance Recovery, One Young World, Revelator Coffee, and Sauce Pizza & Wine. In addition to media and influencer relations, she undertakes dozens of openings and launches for clients each year and provides creative and strategic thinking. Under Stephanie’s leadership, Havas PR was named the No. 1 big PR agency in Phoenix by Arizona Foothills magazine, and her campaign for Risas Dental and Braces was shortlisted in the PRWeek awards. In her first year at Havas PR, Stephanie was named to PR News’ Rising PR Stars 30 & Under and was named a PR Champion by the Council of PR Firms. Stephanie sits on the St. Vincent de Paul Advisory Board in Phoenix, lending her PR and marketing expertise to the organization.

Ellen Mallernee Barnes
Vice President, Content

Since 2011, Ellen has managed written content creation for our clients, including corporations, nonprofits and individuals. She crafts smart and impactful op-eds, blog posts, white papers, press releases, award entries and messaging documents. Clients such as the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, WEX Inc. and SoClean count on her to produce high-quality content that has landed them in the likes of Forbes, Fast Company, The New York Times, USA Today and top trade publications. She previously served as editorial director for Gibson Guitar and has a background in journalism. She is a University of Tennessee at Knoxville graduate with a bachelor’s in English/creative writing.

Melissa Rieger
Vice President, Pittsburgh

Named among the 2019 “Women to Watch” by PRWeek, Melissa Rieger has 16 years of experience working in the communications industry. During her 14 years at Red Havas, Melissa has contributed to results-driven programs for clients, including the Gout Education Society, LivaNova, MilliporeSigma, PPG Industries and Transitions Optical. With a specialty in healthcare communications, Melissa plays an integral role in program strategy and project management, working with her clients every step of the way—from initial planning and program conception to tactical execution to analysis and delivery of results. Melissa has a knack for bringing client messages to life through content creation for multimedia materials. She has vast experience developing programs and content geared toward technical, professional and consumer audiences.

Melissa’s work has been recognized regionally, nationally and internationally—with programs she has touched earning more than 100 honors over the years. Some of these recognitions include first place in Community Affairs for the 2018 PRNews CSR Awards; first place in Media Relations for the 2018 PR Daily CSR Awards; “Best in Show” at the 2016 IABC Golden Triangle Awards for Marketing Communications; The International Public Relations Association’s 2013 Community Relations Campaign of the Year; PRWeek’s 2012 Multicultural Marketing Campaign of the Year; and the Hispanic Public Relations Association’s 2009 Healthcare Campaign of the Year.

Prior to joining Red Havas, Melissa worked as an on-air television news reporter for local Fox and ABC affiliate stations in Central Pennsylvania.