Charlene Wheeless serves as a strategic partner with Gagen MacDonald. One of the most influential figures in corporate communication today, Charlene brings a wide range of expertise and a passion for positive social impact to the clients she advises.
Prior to her partnership with Gagen MacDonald, Charlene spent a decade as the Principal Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Bechtel. While at Bechtel, one of the world’s largest and most prominent engineering, procurement and construction companies, she was responsible for global communications, issues and reputation management, sustainability, stewardship and public affairs. Under her leadership, the 120-year-old, multi-billion-dollar corporation successfully transformed its reputation and brand.
Over the course of her career, Charlene has served as a trusted advisor to dozens of C-suite executives and has experience leading complex change initiatives, including mergers & acquisitions. Prior to Bechtel, Charlene was the Vice President of Communications for the Intelligence and Information Systems (IIS) business unit of Raytheon Company, and has held various communication roles at several other large companies. Charlene is active in shaping the future of the communication profession and is deeply involved in communication industry associations. She currently serves as chairman of the board of trustees of the Page Society, the world’s leading professional association for senior public relations and corporate communication executives. She is also on the board of the Institute for Public Relations and the Page Center, respectively. Charlene is also a well-respected thought leader on the topics of racial and social justice. For several years, Charlene has delivered a lecture series entitled, “Lessons from Being Invisible." These lectures draw on her experience as a Black female executive and were published as a book entitled You Are Enough! Reclaiming Your Career and Life with Purpose, Passion and Unapologetic Authenticity. Her thinking has recently appeared in Business Insider, Chief Executive and Chief Learning Officer, among other publications. Charlene’s accomplishments and influence have been recognized by multiple outlets. She has been named by PR Week magazine as one of the 50 most influential PR professionals in the industry for five consecutive years, and was named to the PR Hall of Femme, the PR Global Power Book and the 2017 Network Journal’s “25 Influential Black Women in Business.”