Chief Executive Officer
Colleen Kelly has been CEO of Concern Worldwide US since 2017. She brings to the organization three decades of advertising and marketing leadership, which has infused new energy and expertise into Concern’s growing engagement of private sector partners, as well as geographic and tactical expansion of marketing and fundraising efforts in the U.S.
It’s part of a board-driven initiative to generate more income to support Concern’s mission, built on a long track record of program effectiveness and efficiency. This includes a strengthening of Concern’s U.S. government funding portfolio and evolving private funding strategies to include corporate partnerships, social impact investing, and new streams of individual donor engagement at all levels.
In addition to leading a team of 50 professionals in the U.S., she is a member of the Board of Directors as well as the global senior management team, ensuring maximum coordination and programmatic impact.
She has traveled to Concern programs in Lebanon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and Bangladesh to strengthen ties and help expose donors directly to the work their generosity makes possible.
Before joining Concern Worldwide U.S., she served as Managing Director of SET Creative, helping establish a rapidly growing New York practice for the leading, Portland-based global brand experience agency. Prior to that, she was for five years a partner and Managing Director of Triptent, where she was responsible for strengthening the agency’s advertising practice while leveraging its award-winning creative and production capabilities to meet clients’ growing content needs. It was an approach that ultimately drove 200% growth over just two years, winning key accounts such as Unilever and PetSmart.
Concurrently, from 2008 to 2013, she served as Managing Director of Product of the Year USA, engineering the North American launch of the world’s largest consumer-voted award for product innovation, which had been founded in France more than two decades earlier. Product of the Year’s mission is to guide consumers to the best products in their market and reward manufacturers for quality and innovation, and under Colleen’s leadership, the organization achieved its standing as a now widely accepted seal of approval. She served as lead sales and marketing strategist, forging media partnerships and winning the participation of leading consumer brands; and as public ambassador, representing the cause at conferences and in television appearances.
Earlier, Colleen spent more than a decade as a founding partner, Media Director, and ultimately Director of Business Development for the advertising agency Deutsch LA. The fourth employee hired, she was part of a dynamic team that drove the agency’s exponential growth from start-up to major industry force. Among her many achievements: building a 60-person media planning team from the ground up; generating more than $1 billion in new business billing; opening the agency’s Toronto office to manage growing Canadian business; and guiding the agency’s positioning, philosophy, and marketing strategies, ultimately establishing Deutsch as one of the boldest, most innovative voices in advertising.
Before joining Deutsch LA, and after graduating from Boston University’s School of Management, Colleen spent a decade working in media planning and direction at Vic Olesen & Partners and Dailey & Associates.
She is the former President of the Los Angeles Association of Advertising Agencies, as well as the former Executive Vice President and an originating board member of ThinkLA, a non-profit organization established to build awareness of the Los Angeles creative community, provide education and training, and create social and philanthropic events, with a focus on innovation, diversity, and multi-cultural representation.
Colleen is also a member of the Kelly Gang, a charitable organization that brings together prominent figures in the areas of media, publishing, business, sports, and politics, who all happen to share the surname ‘Kelly.’ In honor of early member Michael Kelly, the longtime editor of Atlantic Monthly, who died in 2003 covering the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Kelly Gang holds an annual benefit, which has to date generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for worthy causes.
Having grown up in Pinehurst, North Carolina, she now makes her home in New York City.