So much happened in the year 2020 that I sometimes find it hard to catch my breath. Living in the health care and life sciences world for more than 30 years, I have had the privilege to work with true trailblazers who dedicated themselves to driving vaccine use to eradicate polio globally, to save young lives from the ravages of other infectious diseases, and to provide health care to homeless children and their families. These life affirming projects and others defined my 24/7 work life as a PR gal who never even knew what PR was, let alone how to describe what I actually did for a living to my family and friends. My father, an attorney and entrepreneur with a keen sense of humor and a heart as big as NY itself, told me from the time I was two that I must be independent…to be a professional…to call the shots…to make a difference…to serve others…to have a mindset of equitable abundance rather than scarcity…to go big or go home. He called it “Freedom Road” and wanted me to own it and blaze it. He knew I was entering a world where men most often called the shots and wanted me to know I could be right there with them, shoulder to shoulder, with the confidence to take risks and rally spirits.
2020 put all of these sensibilities to the test, not only to navigate the horrors and disruptions of COVID-19, but also to navigate a trail that presented itself in September 2020 when the agency that I had led since 2012 – TogoRun – was in the midst of our parent company’s restructuring. Omnicom, the communications network that owned TogoRun since 2009, and FleishmanHillard, our sister agency, managing our backend, provided me the opportunity of a lifetime…to spin off TogoRun as a woman-owned independent agency with their full support and guidance, including bringing several of our key staff and clients with us. Talk about abundance in action…talk about women supporting women…several FH leaders, including Patti Portnoy, Ruth Kim, Lisa Moehlenkamp, and Karen Eisenberg, not only opened doors for me and our team, they literally cheered us on while we were doing it…and they still do. And the great FH men were there as well. JJ Carter and John Saunders, in particular, blew up the barricades and drove us forward. I am forever grateful for their kindness and belief in our team and our brand.
Maybe it’s because deep down we all love a great dog story…especially an underdog story like Togo. Against all odds, Togo – an undersized, 12-year-old husky – risked everything to save a village in Alaska from a deadly diphtheria outbreak back in 1925. His story is a great tale of courage and heart that even Disney couldn’t resist when I had the ear of its president of production – the awesome Sean Bailey – on a plane from LA to NY more than five years ago. Providence moved to put us next to each other that fateful day. One of the greatest joys of our Togo team has been seeing our favorite pup’s story come to beautiful life in the live action Disney Plus movie Togo, starring the amazing Willem Dafoe and the great Julianne Nicolson, who just won an Emmy for her outstanding role in Mare of Easttown.
So here we are…celebrating our one-year anniversary as TogoRun 3.0…with more than 20 of the best health, science, consumer, policy, and creative minds in the business and more than a dozen of the most remarkable clients out there…from innovators in life sciences to non-profits that are changing the world every day and to whom we proudly donate at least 11 percent of our time in pro bono services. In fact, our team decided that instead of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in rent in NYC, Boston, DC, LA, and London, that we would instead move to a fully virtual, no walls global office and donate these funds in pro bono fees to serve others whose values align with ours – Courage. Commitment. Creativity. Craftmanship. Community. We are proud to be on this new trail together and hope you will join us as we dedicate ourselves to blazing more trails and bringing new hope.
Heartfelt thanks to everyone on the trail who continues to light our way and inspire us at every turn. Woof!