Grounded in the belief that strategic communication is at the core of effective leadership, Maria is an accomplished senior consultant with a passion for and commitment to helping organizations and leaders achieve their business objectives and strengthen their stakeholder relationships, both internally and externally. With proven success and experience tackling complex communications challenges across a variety of industries, she relishes her roles as a connector, conscience and conductor.
Since joining Gagen MacDonald in 2016, Maria has been a strategic partner and trusted advisor to many of the firm’s largest clients, including Walgreens Booth, Aetna, Grainger and Gallagher Insurance. She has successfully led them through a variety of complex and transformational communication strategy, employee engagement, M&A and cultural integration initiatives and has proven herself to be a valued partner and beacon. Maria’s core competencies include corporate communication, executive visibility, crisis communications, media relations, industry thought-leadership and change communications. Her clients respect and value her as a communications expert, but also as a strategic problem-solver, a cultural guardian and a passionate business evangelist. She is forward-thinking, collaborative and tenacious.
Prior to joining Gagen MacDonald, Maria built an impressive corporate career leading communications strategy for several public and private organizations, including William Blair & Company, Allstate, Preferred Hotel Group and The Chicago Board of Trade. During this time, she guided leaders through several tumultuous and challenging events, including IPOs, mergers and media crises, and built three communications organizations from the ground up. She established herself as an expert in both internal and external communications advocating for all stakeholders, from employees to investors. She built rigorous thought leadership, reputation management and media relations programs establishing respected relationships with key media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Week, Forbes and Fortune. Within every organization, Maria built credibility with her toughest critics and taught leaders how to effectively tell their stories. These experiences have shaped the consultant and leader that she is today – and, it all started with a strong foundation on Capitol Hill where she served as communications director for the U.S. Congress.
Maria holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs with a major in Management from Indiana University, but has never stopped learning.