Former U.S. Trade Representative Barshefsky Joins MDC Partners Board

Less than a month on the job as CEO at MDC Partners Mark Penn is already putting his stamp on the company, which recently announced a very distinguished new addition to its board—Ambassador Charlane Barshefsky, the former United States Trade Representative who currently serves as senior international partner at the law firm WilmerHale. She will serve on the MDC Partners audit committee and the nominating and corporate governance committee.

My guess is Penn and Barshefky go back a ways—she served during the Clinton Administration while Penn was a close advisor to both Bill and Hilary Clinton.

Penn issued a statement on the appointment:  “I am extremely pleased to welcome Charlene to our Board of Directors. She brings a distinguished record as a policymaker and negotiator, as well as exceptional Board director experience for some of the world’s most respected consumer companies across a range of sectors. Her perspective will be truly invaluable, and we consider ourselves fortunate to have her counsel as we enter this next phase of growth.”



The former U.S. Trade boss has lots of blue chip board experience. She’s been on both the American Express and Estee Lauder boards for over decade and is also a trustee of Starwood Hotels and Resorts. She also served on the Intel board for a time.

The appointment follows months of loud complaining from unhappy MDC investor FrontFour Capital Group which has been demanding board changes since last year. In January MDC agreed to hold a special meeting in June to consider FrontFour’s alternative board slate.

But that was before Penn arrived on the scene. Who knows, maybe his addition, along with Barshefsky’s will satisfy FrontFour’s demand for more competent leadership at MDC.

It ought to.


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