NEW YORK, August 25, 2021 – BCW, the global communications agency built to move people, has appointed Drew O’Brien President of Direct Impact (DI), the nation's leading grassroots firm and a member of the BCW Group of companies. O’Brien will continue in his role as Northeast Market Leader for BCW. The appointment is effective as of September 7.
With a presence in every media market and political jurisdiction across the country, DI is redefining what it means to engage a community through 21st century grassroots and purpose-driven communications. DI’s in-market experts use firsthand market insights and knowledge of local and regional trends to produce creative campaigns that reach, captivate and activate a community, including consumers, policymakers, constituents and key stakeholders alike.
O’Brien will be responsible for building DI’s offerings, growing its client base and overseeing talent management in partnership with Amy Cloessner, recently named DI’s Chief Operating Officer. He will work across the BCW Group of companies – collaborating closely with Michael Fleischer, President, BCW Washington, D.C., and Prime Policy Group – to develop a comprehensive suite of offerings for clients that need grassroots, lobbying and policy solutions as part of their reputation efforts.
“Drew is a great fit to lead DI thanks to his years providing complex strategic counsel to clients and his deep experience in high-impact, highly targeted precision communications throughout his years in national, state and local politics,” said Brooke Hovey, Global Chief Growth Officer and President, North America, BCW. “He is a proven leader in building strong teams that deliver powerful results, and I look forward to the impact he will make on this important line of business.”
Before joining BCW in 2017, O’Brien was an Executive Vice President in Weber Shandwick’s corporate practice, where he led the partnerships and higher education units and served as a strategic counselor to Airbnb, Bank of America, Liberty Mutual and a number of New England-based organizations in the corporate and philanthropic sectors.
O’Brien has extensive experience in the public sector. He served as a senior adviser for more than a decade to former Secretary of State John Kerry and was his Special Representative for Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State. Under O’Brien’s leadership and with the engagement of a cross-section of private companies and NGOs, the Office of Global Partnerships played a major role in the U.S. Water Partnership, the Secretary’s Our Oceans Conference, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014.
Before this, O’Brien’s roles included serving as State Director and Senior Advisor to then-U.S. Senator John Kerry, Special Assistant to Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston, Executive Director of Mayor Menino’s Office of Neighborhood Services, Special Assistant to the Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Chief of Staff to the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission and Deputy Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston. O’Brien has also worked on political campaigns at the local, state and national levels, including in several capacities during Kerry’s 2004 presidential run.
“Extraordinary things can happen when you connect with audiences individually, where they live and work, on the issues that matter most to them,” said O’Brien. ”We have seen this happen time and again across the many clients that DI and BCW work on together. DI’s precise, intensely local outreach serves to educate communities, build brands and effect change. I’m excited and honored to take on this new role.”
About Direct Impact
Founded in 1988, Direct Impact (DI) is a premier grassroots firm and member of the BCW Group of companies and WPP. DI and its nationwide network of in-market experts execute state and local strategic communications and public affairs campaigns that reach every community, media market and political jurisdiction in the U.S. DI’s use of firsthand, hyper-local insights and trends - combined with an “earned-plus” approach - moves people to take action, support brands and effect change. DI is redefining what it means to engage a community—consumers, policymakers, constituents and organizations alike—through 21st century grassroots and purpose-driven communications.