The 2020 Women to Watch in Digital Advertising

As we kick off a new decade and look forward to what 2020 has in store, we want to take a moment to honor the next generation of digital media leaders – the risk-takers and game changers who are working hard to shape our industry.

The women we’re celebrating come from across the U.S. They work for large holding companies and boutique agencies, on the brands that we engage with every day and that shape our lives. And they are all putting their own spin on what it means to be making a mark on the advertising industry.

Read on to meet the 35 digital advertising rock stars that make up this year’s Women to Watch in Digital Advertising list.

Kristen Andersen
Media Supervisor

“Two leadership skills I value most are transparency and communication. It is extremely important when working in a team environment to be able to have open communication. Being innovative can be a challenging leadership skill to develop, especially when there are limitations on budget, assets and campaign objectives.”

What she’s reading: Becoming by Michelle Obama

Amanda Brauer
Media Supervisor

“People you manage might not be motivated by the same things you are. Everyone has different working styles, and as a leader it’s your job to manage each person the way that is going to set that individual up for the most success. You have to adapt to their style, rather than making them adopt yours.”

What she’s reading: The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

Brooke Bowhay
Associate Director, Digital

“I learned to embrace risk-taking by making mistakes and then realizing the world was still turning! I’ve been lucky enough to work at an agency and with a client that embraces risk and crazy ideas. With crazy ideas comes a lot of learning opportunities, but also a lot of fun.”

What she’s listening to: AdAge’s AdLib podcast

Katie Cable
Programmatic and Platforms Manager
Peter Mayer

“I value positivity through challenging moments. It is easy to be motivating when things are on the upswing. It takes practicality, communication, reliability and hard work when uncertainty rears its ugly head.”

What she’s listening to: The Making Beyoncé podcast

Kristen Chang
Saatchi & Saatchi

“As a leader, I work really hard to make sure my team feels inspired and constantly growing … I try to sprinkle in projects that I think they’ll enjoy and give them credit whenever I can so they feel valued. The most difficult part of being a leader for me is having those challenging conversations. Confrontation is not my strong suit, and I am constantly working on how to better relay a difficult message without having to be blunt.”

What she’s listening to: The How I Built This podcast with Guy Raz

Mackenzie Cohen
Associate Director, Digital Activation

“I have always been exposed to the benefits of taking risks, even at a young age from my parents. As an adult professional I have learned to deeply consider choices and decisions from all aspects to evaluate the reward payoff.”

What she’s listening to: Lots of podcasts, including Reply All, The Pitch, Startup and for a good laugh: Armchair Expert and Girls Gotta Eat

Emily Coleman
Manager, Precision
Spark Foundry

“People management is a challenging skill, but also something that I strongly value. You have to adapt your people management skills to different environments and different people. As a manager, I cater my managing style based on the needs of each team member, and expect those who manage me to do the same.”

What she’s looking forward to in 2020: Seeing what will happen within the programmatic landscape, which is constantly evolving

Kathryn Cucuzza
Senior Media Planner

“Strong communication is what influences creative and strategic thinking. It helps us better understand our clients’ needs, better delegate to our teams and better instill a clear vision for the work we ultimately want to stand behind and push forward. Strong communication has the ability to evoke resilience in times of failure and comradery in times of triumph. Understanding its influence, strong communication is a skill I bring to my own teams, clients and external partnerships.”

What she’s reading: Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

Brittney Diaferio
Manager, Media Services

“Leadership skills that I value most are owning your mistakes and being an encourager. The most challenging skill to develop was being confident enough to make decisions for my team and giving directions.”

What she’s looking forward to in 2020: Acquiring new skills as programmatic continues to change

Annie DiPasquale
Senior Programmatic Trader
Havas Media

“I learned at an early age that when you remain in your comfort zone, your ability to grow is limited. I believe that in order to reach for the life that you want, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable, you have to prefer the high of breaking through your limitations to the dull comfort of staying the same. Taking measured risks is a crucial part of helping anyone reach their full potential.”

What she’s reading: Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle

Sydney Ellis
Advertising Strategist

“I have been lucky enough to have been mentored by extremely strong women who’ve defended their teams without fail. Demonstrating that you have your team’s back, whether good or bad, not only builds trust and comradery but shows how much you value them. Sometimes people just need assurance that their contributions are appreciated and valued, and standing by them through thick and thin shows that better than any words can ever express.”

What she’s listening to: the podcast You’re Wrong About…

Gabriella Fernandez
Supervisor, Digital

“I don’t like the word ‘risk-taking;’ by definition it has a negative connotation. But I do think it’s incredibly important to continue to push the bounds and be innovative. It’s difficult but I think it becomes much easier when you are working with the right group of people who foster room for outside-of-the-box thinking. By surrounding yourself with the right people, you are setting yourself up for success.”

What she’s listening to: Tons of podcasts, including The Daily, The Skimm, The City, Bitch Sesh, An Acquired Taste Podcast, Atlanta Monster, Room 20 and In the Dark

Johana Giraldo
Associate Director, Digital Media
Campbell Ewald

“Effective communication is key in every environment, but I have to say that inspiring others is the most interesting skill to develop. I keep reminding myself about the famous quote by Maya Angelou: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’”

What she’s looking forward to in 2020: How all the new video streaming services will compare with the current ones, and how traditional cable is advancing into the digital space

Sarah Greenhall
Supervisor, Digital

“I value being solution-oriented. In this industry, campaign execution doesn’t always go as planned and I have learned that in the face of conflict, it is critical to focus on how to prevent recurring issues, versus having a blaming mentality.”

What she’s listening to: The Daily podcast every day, as well as How I Built This for inspiration

Alyssa Hollenback
Media Supervisor
Carmichael Lynch

“All of the leaders that I’ve admired most in my career have had two things in common: They
were reasonable and they followed through, so I work hard to exhibit that as well. In an
industry that’s so data and performance driven, I think it can be super challenging to bring the
human element to your work and to your team, but I’ll keep working on it until I get it right!”

What she’s looking forward to in 2020: Seeing how media consumption continues to evolve as
the world becomes increasingly connected, cluttered and busy

Ali Huenink
Senior Programmatic Trader
Havas Media

“The leadership skill that was most challenging for me to develop was confidence in myself and my knowledge. When beginning my career in programmatic, I found myself knowing the answer, but always looking for the extra reinsurance to make sure that I was correct. Once I was able to overcome this, I became more independent and a lot stronger in my position.”

What she’s looking forward to in 2020: Leveraging experience and social skills to be in a position to manage a team and be a leader.

Kendra Hwang
Associate Media Director
Campbell Ewald

“While change can be daunting to some, I embrace it and constantly seek ways to educate myself on the continuous revolution of the marketing world, especially digital. In 2020, I plan on continuing to be curious and open-minded to ensure I am constantly challenging myself and those around me.”

What she’s listening to: The Herd podcast with Colin Cowherd

Sophie Ingham
Manager, Programmatic
Spark Foundry

“The nature of programmatic lends itself to risk-taking. Staying ahead of the curve in a fairly young industry means being open to new testing opportunities and trial and error is needed to garner learnings while the industry continues to mature. Significant responsibility is also thrust on traders, so I learned pretty early on in my career to embrace risk-taking.”

What she’s looking forward to in 2020: Finding new ways to reach users beyond the cookie

Samantha Jones
Media Planner
Team One

“As someone who takes great pride in their work, it was difficult for me to relinquish control of certain tasks. Eventually I learned that one person can’t do everything. A good leader identifies the strong suits of their team members and delegates tasks accordingly.”

What she’s reading: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Sarah Karges
Associate Director, Programmatic Strategy
Havas Media

“Throughout my career, I have been lucky enough to have amazing mentors that have encouraged me to embrace new challenges professionally. Knowing that I had the support of my team helped me to take on new opportunities.”

What she’s reading: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jenna Kelly
Digital Supervisor, Activation and Investment
Horizon Media

“I love the saying ‘magic happens outside of your comfort zone,’ and I try to live by that in my personal and professional life. While yes, not everything needs to be reinvented, it’s great to make even small adjustments to challenge, grow and develop.”

What she’s reading: Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens

Kelli Kettell
Associate Director, Precision
Spark Foundry

“I value creativity, adaptability and positivity – adaptability can feel unnatural at times, but it consistently keeps me learning and growing.”

What she’s reading: Educated by Tara Westover

Gabrielle Levy
Manager, Programmatic Strategy

“In 2020, I’m looking forward to building a new approach to media strategy across all channels. With data living in the forefront of our KPIs and analytics, I would like to bring data insights through programmatic activation to the table. This way, brands can work in conjunction with their marketing analytics teams and programmatic teams to form the work before and after when building their core audience. I would love to see brands take an audience insight from one of our campaigns and use it to create a new product or event built around the data!”

What she’s reading: The Secret Wisdom of Nature by Peter Wohlleben

Kimberlie Liang
Supervisor, Digital Media and Strategy
Horizon Media

“I value the ability to think of your entire team as individuals and at the same time, a collective whole. The idea of how one can balance getting the work done and compassion is an incredible skill I value in leaders. Furthermore, a great leader understands that they are never done learning. With the constantly evolving landscape of every field, there is always something to learn and a better way. Great leaders understand this and look to foster a true sense of curiosity amongst themselves and their team.”

What she’s listening to: A number of podcasts, including This American Life, The Moth, Snap Judgment, Lovett or Leave It and Pod Save America

Anna Lindner
Programmatic Manager
Publicis Health Media

“Understanding risk as an opportunity to succeed has always given me a greater sense of confidence and dedication.”

What she’s reading: Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Anne Lusty
Senior Campaign Manager

“It’s always better to take risks and know that there might be failure along the course because there’s always something that you will learn and can change in the future. Fear of failure is natural, but having courage and taking risks will make you grow and become successful.”

What she’s reading: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Lauren Mahomes
Associate Media Director

“The client/agency model has been shifting its structure for a while now, and I’m looking forward to greater connectivity and transparency in how we best work together to accomplish business and marketing objectives. There’s a lot of openness with my current client to break down structural barriers and start fresh. I’m excited to work in that capacity to bring unique and truly innovative solutions to the table and market.”

What she’s reading: The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

Lauren Meehan
Media Strategist
Red Tettemer O’Connel + Partners

“It’s definitely not a new concept, but I try to always trust my gut and ask for advice and help whenever I need it.”

What she’s reading: Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

Tiffany Morales
Account Manager, Programmatic
Dentsu X

“I have learned that you lose out on every chance you don’t take. Recently, I’ve pushed myself to take risks and was able to gain tremendous self-growth, experience and knowledge, whether the outcome was negative or positive.

What she’s looking forward to in 2020: Discovering new ways to advertise current clients, as well as building relationships internally and externally

Molly Murphy
Associate Manager, Programmatic
Rise Interactive

“For me, it’s been challenging to maintain a balance of prioritization and delegation. It’s important to set big goals for your team and company, but you have to be able to identify what projects will have the greatest impact if you do them now.”

What she’s looking forward to in 2020: The continued growth of Rise Interactive’s programmatic team

Mycah Pinpin
Senior Associate, Programmatic Strategy

“There always seem to be multiple moving pieces in our industry and the ability to keep track of everything but also pivot at any given moment without frustration is (I feel) a skill that needs development and doesn’t always come naturally. But in my experience, when this happens, it trickles down to the wider team and allows everyone to do their best work and be more collaborative with one another.”

What she’s reading: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Andrea Rodriquez
Senior Associate, Digital Investment

“Although I consider myself empathetic in general, it can be challenging to further develop this in the workplace when working with new people, especially under pressure. Every person is different, so it requires time investment and effort to understand what makes the other tick.”

What she’s listening to: The 4-Hour Workweek audiobook

Ashley Sorensen
Senior Media Buyer/Planner

“I have always been someone who is resistant to change. After becoming a mom, I am learning to treat taking risks differently. Risk-taking is an essential part of our human experiences, now I lean in, feel the fear and do it anyway.”

What she’s reading: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Meghan Sweeney
Associate Digital Director
Horizon Media

“I have always admired and looked up to managers who I respect both professionally and personally. I think it’s important to lead by example in every way – setting high expectations and pushing those around you to continually improve.”

What she’s listening to: Plenty of podcasts, including The Daily, How I Built This, Fresh Air, This American Life and My Favorite Murder

Angelica Tacconelli
Media Supervisor
GP Generate

“I value leaders who embody confidence, empathy and empowerment. You are not a true leader if you’re not building up those who are around you, and I’ve found that these three qualities are key in helping teams grow together.”

What she’s looking forward to in 2020: The challenge of learning something new

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