As founder and president of Wilks Communications Group (WCG), Gardi Ipema Wilks sets the organization’s strategic vision and actively leads client work across the food, nonprofit and corporate sectors. Her primary focus is to advance consumer marketing and multi-channel initiatives that drive brand visibility and stakeholder engagement, build sales, and support client growth strategies. Gardi is former chair of Housing Forward, a nonprofit organization ending homelessness in west Cook County, IL. She has a master’s degree from Ball State University, where she served as an adjunct professor in the journalism department, and a bachelor’s degree from Calvin College.
Brad WilksManaging Director
Managing Director Brad Wilks oversees business-to-business marketing, corporate, financial and crisis communications for WCG clients. He previously headed the Chicago and Midwest offices of several major public relations agencies, including MSLGROUP, Ogilvy Public Relations and Sard Verbinnen & Company. He has a master’s degree from Ball State University and a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University.
Sarah HintzeVice President of Consumer and Food
Sarah Hintze is Vice President of Consumer and Food at WCG helping to oversee a number of consumer and food accounts. With more than 10 years of experience she has led award-winning campaigns for GoPro, Kalahari Resorts and Oscar Mayer. Prior to joining the firm, she spearheaded numerous communications marketing programs at Edelman including Super Bowl activities for Nationwide and cause marketing efforts for the Kimberly-Clark Huggies brand. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee with a minor in political science.
Greg AvdoianVice President of Corporate and Non-profit
Greg Avdoian is Vice President of Corporate and Non-profit at WCG. He has both agency and corporate experience building brands, providing strategic counsel and demonstrating public relations value in the client marketing mix. He has developed and executed programs involving media relations, content creation, social media, employee engagement, marketing communications and franchise relations and development. Greg has worked with a broad array of CPG clients including Tyson Foodservice/Convenience, HanesBrands, Barclays, Fortune Brands, Conagra Brands, Make-A-Wish, Checkers & Rally’s Restaurants, Constellation Brands, among others. Prior to joining WCG, he held senior positions at O’Malley Hansen Communications, No Limit Agency, Accuquote, Fishman Public Relations and Jam Theatricals.
Bozena LuczakVice President of Operations
Bozena Luczak brings years of project management experience to her role as Vice President of Operations. She is the go-to person for all operational aspects of the business. Bozena has a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems and business management from National Louis University.
Samantha FrostPublic Relations Director
Samantha Frost is a Public Relations Director at WCG where she leads media relations, chef relations and influencer programs for a number of food and consumer accounts. She brings more than 10 years of communications and PR experience to the team, including extensive work in developing media relations/social media strategies and plans for national brands in the home and healthcare associations spaces. A native Iowan and nature-lover to her core, Samantha has a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations with a concentration in marketing from Drake University.
Rebecca LehmannDirector of Digital
Rebecca is Director of Digital for Wilks Communications Group. A natural writer with an analytical streak, she brings over a decade of experience with digital marketing to the team. Prior to joining the firm, she led search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing and strategy, and social media in the affiliate marketing vertical, working closely with thousands of retailers and gaining extensive knowledge of online consumer behavior. Rebecca has a bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric from the University of Illinois, and an MBA in International Business from the University of Colorado.
Kathryn GlasshoffManager of Media Relations
Katie Glasshoff is Manager of Media Services at WCG. An Emmy award-winning television news reporter and anchor, Katie has more than a decade’s worth of experience in local broadcast markets around the country. She has extensive experience in media relations and crisis communications. Katie is a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where she has a bachelor’s degree in in Journalism and Spanish. She loves seeking out new restaurants with her husband and spending quality time with their dog, Scrambles.
Jessica PatrickAccount Supervisor
Jessica Patrick is an Account Supervisor at Wilks Communications Group, supporting media relations and social media and influencer programs across the firm. Prior to joining the team, she worked at FleishmanHillard supporting consumer product goods brands in the food, beverage and retail space such as Quaker Oats, Tropicana, Ulta Beauty, Lands’ End and Tootsie Roll. She has experience in developing media relations strategies and plans that integrate social and digital efforts to help elevate brand voice and support product launches and campaigns. Additionally, she has experience supporting crisis communications, spokesperson management and event planning. Jessica has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Connecticut.
Jenny PhanSenior Account Executive
Jenny is a Senior Account Executive at Wilks Communications Group. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northwestern University, where, as a student, she co-founded NU’s first culinary arts student-run organization. Prior to joining WCG, she held a number of marketing, development and communications positions in corporate food service, local restaurant and nonprofit organizations. She has experience in graphic design, event planning and systems optimization, as well as website and social media management. In her work with food businesses, she specialized in community collaborations, sustainability and strategic branding. Jenny organizes pop-up dinner events with industry friends around the city and is a proud plant & dog mom.
Parker Schwartz IISenior Account Executive
Parker is a Senior Account Executive at Wilks Communications Group. He is a 2017 graduate of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN where he completed a master’s degree in Strategic Communication. At ETSU, Parker served as the Graduate Assistant for the “Buccaneer Sports Network,” the institution’s sports broadcasting wing. His prior professional work experience includes broadcast/media relations stints in professional baseball with three different teams including the Kane County Cougars located in Geneva, IL. Parker graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, IN in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in both communications and political science.
Samantha DavisAccount Executive
Samantha is an Account Executive at Wilks Communications Group supporting food and consumer and nonprofit accounts. She is a graduate of Florida State University where she obtained bachelor degrees in English and Psychology. While at Florida State, she served as News Editor for the school’s independent newspaper and completed internships in Public Relations and Marketing.
Justin BiblerAccount Executive
Justin Bibler is an Account Executive at Wilks Communications Group supporting a variety of food and non-profit clients. He is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in Cinema and Media Studies. When he is not at work, you can either find him in his kitchen trying a new recipe he discovered or biking on Chicago’s Lake Shore Trail.
Kelly HillAssistant Account Executive
Kelly Hill is an Assistant Account Executive at Wilks Communications Group, working primarily on nonprofit clients. She has a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University with a major in Communication Studies and a double minor in Political Science and International Development. Kelly has significant prior previous experience in public affairs, including interning with a U.S. Congressman, a State Representative, and a State Attorney General. She has experience writing fact sheets, social media management, speech writing, and organizing community engagement. Kelly enjoys staying active outdoors and will never pass up an opportunity to go skiing, hiking, kayaking, or backpacking.
McKenzie SmithAssistant Account Executive
McKenzie Smith is an Assistant Account Executive at Wilks Communication Group, focusing on nonprofit and consumer clients. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) with a major in Public Relations and a minor in Psychology. Before joining the team, McKenzie worked as a Development and Communications Intern for Make-A-Wish Alabama. Her experience ranges from press release writing, to social media management and other various marketing efforts. When not at work, McKenzie enjoys exploring the city of Chicago and keeping up with industry trends.
Julia JosephGraphic Designer
Julia is a designer at WCG, creating compelling visuals for clients across the firm. Julia’s design philosophy is committed to the intersection of logic and aesthetic. She was trained at Parsons–the New School for Design in New York where she earned a degree in Design and Management. Prior to joining WCG, she worked as a design strategist and creative leader for consulting firms, as an in-house designer, front-end developer, and a business owner with extensive experience executing and managing soup-to-nuts digital and print initiatives. Outside of work, Julia enjoys yoga, baking, crossword puzzles, and her dog Noodle.
Alissa MuttonAdministrative Assistant
Alissa is an Administrative Assistant, primarily offering support to the VP of Operations, but also assisting the other WCG teams as necessary. Alissa earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing from Mercyhurst College, and has since gained experience in several different industries. From writing content at an invention company to managing over 1,200 programs and client accounts at an organic landscape company, her diverse career path has fortified and broadened her knowledge and skill sets. Outside of the office, Alissa can be found pirouetting in dance classes, writing in a coffee shop, or baking for her friends and family.
Jimena Carrasco is an intern at WCG supporting food and nonprofit clients. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a double major in Communication and Sociology, and a minor in Public Relations. Prior to joining WCG, Jimena worked with young children at a bilingual elementary school and served as the Head of Communications for The Roger Ebert Film Festival. She has experience in writing, social media management, and content creation. Jimena enjoys traveling and exploring new places, as well as doing puzzles.
Nicole Hawkins is a registered dietitian and intern at Wilks Communications Group. She received her master’s degree in Dietetics from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and her bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences with a minor in Health and Exercise Science from the University of Oklahoma. She has experience with content creation including writing blog posts and magazine articles, creating and editing videos, and website design. Additionally, she is interested in working in the food industry and has experience with recipe development and nutrient analysis. If she’s not at work, you can find Nicole at a coffee shop or exploring Chicago.
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