Gatesman Appoints Agency Veteran Karen McKinley EVP/CCO

Pittsburgh-based ad agency Gatesman has appointed Karen McKinley executive vice president and Chief Creative Officer in a move that reflects the industry’s focus to elevate more women to top creative positions at agencies.

McKinley replaces Dave Kwasnick, who left the agency last year.

According to the agency, McKinley is tasked with elevating its creative identity, enhancing client work and “inspiring connectivity, innovation and collaboration” across the agency’s Pittsburgh, Chicago and Springfield, MO offices. 

McKinley’s career spans two decades at big-brand agencies, boutique creative firms and digital shops. Most recently, she was creative director at Made Movement in Boulder, Co. Earlier, she held leadership positions at Leo Burnett, Martin/Williams, Carmichael Lynch, Campbell Mithun, Doe Anderson and McKee Wallwork Henderson.  

McKinley has earned numerous awards for work with brands such as Porsche, Subaru, TGI Fridays, Church’s Chicken, Kellogg’s, General Motors and Pfizer, among others. 



“Karen takes smart, original and breakthrough ideas to another level,” stated John Gatesman, CEO, Gatesman.  

McKinley is the second female recently appointed to a senior management post at the agency. Last November, Gatesman named Shannon Baker agency president. Now, the two executives will jointly run the day-to-day operations at the 125-person shop.

It’s been a busy year for Gates, which added offices in Chicago and Springfield through an acquisition. It has also won $4 million in new business revenue this year, including global office brand Fellowes after a formal review. That account is being led out of the agency’s Chicago office.

“While not yet fully embraced industry-wide, the shift to elevate and promote talented, creative and ambitious women to positions of power is a no-brainer,” said Gatesman. “One of the most counterintuitive statistics is that women control nearly 80% of consumer spending, yet very few women make it to the c-suite in business.

"In addition to Shannon and Karen, our agency’s leadership team is comprised of more than 60% women. That makes a statement to young women trying to break in to the industry about our agency and our culture.”



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