Press Release

Ad Council Taps Soledad O’Brien as Co-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Public Issues

New members, including business, media and environmental experts, join Committee to help the Ad Council identify social issues to consider for public service campaigns

New York, NY, May 24, 2017The Ad Council, the leading producer of public service communications in the U.S., announced today that Soledad O’Brien, CEO of Starfish Media Group, a multi-platform media production and distribution company, has joined Christopher Gebhardt, CEO of Stir Strategy and Story, as Co-Chair of the Ad Council’s Advisory Committee on Public Issues. The Committee is the incubator for Ad Council campaigns where timely issues facing the country are discussed and new campaigns are proposed. The announcement was made today to coincide with the Committee’s spring meeting where new members will be inducted to the Committee.

The Ad Council currently produces over 40 national public service engagement campaigns addressing issues in the areas of education, family, health, safety and the environment. The Ad Council aims to raise awareness and inspire action on critical social issues—such as discrimination, autism, addiction and college access—by creating campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies.

In addition to her role as CEO, Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning journalist, who anchors and produces Hearst Television’s political magazine show, “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien” and reports for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, PBS NewsHour, and regularly contributes to WebMD. O’Brien has anchored and reported for NBC, CNN and others, winning numerous awards,including three Emmys, a George Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont prize and a Gracie. With her husband, she founded the powHERful foundation that sends 25 girls to and through college. 

“I have seen firsthand the power of partnering with brands,foundations and other non-profits in order to elevate conversations around critical issues. If you can tell a story well, you can move people to do something. The Ad Council’s ability to use the persuasion of storytelling to convene these conversations is powerful and I am proud to join this extraordinary institution,” said O’Brien.

Christopher Gebhardt is an innovator in building brands and driving social impact through the power of storytelling. He leads Stir Strategy and Story, a social impact/innovation strategy and storytelling firm whose clients are corporations, foundations, NGOs and philanthropists. Chris was formerly with Participant Media, where he led the efforts to create a digital community that connected inspiration to action, as well as founding Participant’s agency/consulting arm. Prior to joining Participant, Chris was with Ogilvy,Pepsi, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, and launched several media, digital and consulting ventures.

“Co-Chairing the Ad Council’s Advisory Committee is both an honor and an exceptional opportunity to explore how we can harness the collective power of the media and advertising to drive social change,” remarked Chris Gebhardt. “By tapping the expertise of this all-star Committee of experts, we’re helping the Ad Council shape their campaigns on some of the most critical issues facing the country. For me, it’s not simply about serving on a Committee, but helping to make a difference for the millions impacted by Ad Council campaigns.”

“Soledad and Christopher are experts in harnessing the power of storytelling and media to connect with people and shape public perception on some of the most complex and urgent issues of our times,” Ad Council President and CEO Lisa Sherman said. “I know they’ll provide tremendous leadership when it comes to our next generation of social good campaigns.” 

The Co-Chairs are also joined by seven new Advisory Committee members with a diverse set of backgrounds in the private, public and non-profit sectors, each offering a unique perspective on today’s social landscape. They are:

Sara Adams, Senior Director,Communications & Marketing, CECP: The CEO Force for Good

Sarah Alspach, Vice President, US Pharma and Corporate Communications, GlaxoSmithKline

Angela Baker, Director, Wireless Reach, Qualcomm Inc.

Marc DeCourcey, Sr. Vice President, US Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Derrick Feldmann, President, Achieve

Jacquelyn Hadley, Partner, The Bridgespan Group

Rose Kirk, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Verizon

Eric Pooley, SVP, Strategy &Communications, Environmental Defense Fund

The Advisory Committee has been an integral part of the Ad Council for over 50 years. The Committee, which meets twice each year, is comprised of esteemed experts who represent research, academia, philanthropy, business, media and public policy. They have helped initiate and guide many Ad Council efforts, including campaigns on reducing food waste (with the Natural Resources Defense Council), caregiving (with AARP), financial literacy (with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) and promoting math and science to girls.

The Ad Council

The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshaling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Through compelling and cutting-edge communications, the Ad Council connects with Americans to inspire, inform and save lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns visit and its social communities on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


Media Contact:

The Ad Council

Ellyn Fisher

[email protected]

(212) 984-1964

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