Jennifer Russo

The Kinetic Communicator Who Will Propel Your Organization Forward.

 
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A Catalyst to Release the Untapped Capital in Your Collective Diversity

If you've been in the corporate world for more than two decades like I have, then you know the old adage that your people are your #1 asset.

But I think that's no longer true. 

There is a profound shift occurring. Your employees, partner organizations and consumers expect you to run a good workplace. Provide opportunity for advancement. Deliver an excellent product or service. And do no harm in the process.  And although your people are still at the center of this equation, your greatest untapped asset is now found in the diversity of thinking, backgrounds and experience they bestow on your brand.

The Power of Diversity and Inclusion

For more than 20 years I have provided thought leadership in corporate communications, reputation management and corporate social responsibility. I help leaders like you connect and marshal your diverse populations into shared visions and missions to elevate the performance of all.

I believe that challenging the status quo with character and integrity is the hallmark of a committed leader. That means looking for opportunity where others see risk. Operating from a mindset of abundance, not scarcity. Replacing expected execution with outstanding performance.

I am a kinetic communicator with an energy that attracts professionals of diverse thinking and backgrounds to help your people and your organization outperform in the market.

I believe we are obligated to be our best selves and help others do the same. To me, this means valuing diversity of intellect, beliefs, cultures and ideals. Manifesting hope, revealing joint solutions and embracing inclusion. I have led teams on multiple continents from varied backgrounds, gaining buy in, building trust and collectively making a positive impact on the brand and in the world.

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I'm proud of the reputation I have built as being a free thinker who is a respectful, tolerant, and supportive leader.

My father, Len, who was a celebrated school superintendent in New York, encouraged me to always perform at my highest potential. That's why I am a relentless learner, currently in the final course to earn a Masters of Science in Development Management from the United Kingdom’s Open University.

My studies have taught me to better understand conflict, build lasting interpersonal relationships and grow sustainable institutions. I also graduated from Cambridge University, The London Business School and Arizona State University.

I'm fluent in Spanish, too. There are many benefits to speaking another language, including the opportunity to interact more deeply with others, understand their culture and appreciate their fresh ideas. My ability to speak Spanish has allowed me to make friends from San Juan to Santiago.

What inspires others and how I can help them achieve their goals is what motivates me most. 

Hunter and me in brisk Chicago.

Hunter and me in brisk Chicago.

Much of my physical energy comes from being a certified Spinning instructor and fitness fanatic who would rather skip the gym to go cycling with my boys in a city they’ve never seen before. My mental energy is expressed in being deeply passionate about education, equality and opportunity. 

I've witnessed what happens when you capitalize on your diversity. You will differentiate your brand creating the greatest opportunity for growth for your people and your organization. But it all starts with bringing the right kinetic energy to propel your mission forward. 

That's where I come in.

Resume

 

Senior-level executive with 20 years of proven experience designing and leading outreach strategies for private and public companies ¨ Known for strategic thinking and counsel, building a climate of partnership and trust, and working collaboratively with stakeholder groups and across the organization, including the C-suite ¨ Unique ability to identify and leverage opportunities and manage complex and challenging situations ¨ Expertise in strategic communications, community outreach and corporate social responsibility ¨ Well versed in business strategy, global trends analysis, corporate governance, public affairs, and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

CORE COMPETENCIES

  • Business Communications
  • Organizational & thought leadership
  • Strategy development & counsel
  • Project management
  • Team leadership & development
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Community outreach & engagement
  • Stakeholder analysis and mapping
  • NGO partnerships
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Employee communications
  • Executive communications
  • Global media relations
  • Crisis communications
  • Investor relations
  • Consumer research
  • Branding
  • Marketing communications
  • Digital outreach & Social Media

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Rio Tinto, plc.  
Global 500 diversified mining and metals company with 55,000 employees in more than 40 countries
General Manager, Communications & Communities, Rio Tinto Copper & Diamonds
March 2015 – Present

Develop and lead integrated global communication and stakeholder outreach strategies, programs and teams

  • Lead development and implementation of impactful communication and social investment programs that deliver positive global and site-level community relationships, build brand equity and engender support for the company’s operations
  • Oversee full suite of communications programs including: executive communications, global intranet, leadership communications, employee communications, investor communications, and human resources, safety and environmental communications
  • Deliver Communities & Social Performance and social investment strategies at the product group and local level
  • Responsible for implementing the company’s community partnership model
  • Represent the company on industry-leading associations including the International Copper Association (ICA)
  • Translate CEO’s vision and strategy into meaningful actions and messages that resonate across cultures, channels and multiple audiences, both internal and external
  • Lead brand building efforts, including: consumer/market research, messaging and positioning, website development, and integration of social media channels
  • Develop and implement local, regional and national media relations strategies
  • Counsel leaders on a range of external affairs, marketing, social media and partnership programs
  • Serve as company liaison with NGOs and global industry bodies   

Accomplishments

  • Designed and established a global communications and community relations operating model and organization
  • Built and lead a high-performance, geographically and culturally diverse team of professionals
  • Developed and launched comprehensive awareness-raising campaign on behalf of ICA
  • Reshaped Copper & Diamonds Communities and Social Performance function, resulting in significantly improved performance and consistent achievement of targets
  • Created executive branding and outreach strategy that successfully positioned the incoming Copper & Diamonds CEO as a results-driven thought leader
  • Launched innovative intranet site and online campaigns that materially increased employee engagement, including global #mywhy safety campaign
  • Led internal and external campaigns to introduce the company’s purpose statement, align employees and position the product-group as a purpose-driven organization
  • Designed safety communications strategy, including the company’s first global “Safety Summits”

Resolution Copper Mining Director, Corporate Communications, Copper group           
August 2010 – March 2015

  • Led global strategies and programs to reach and engage internal and external stakeholders
  • Managed and produced full suite of executive and internal and communications including speeches, news releases, employee communications, investor briefing materials, annual reports and results communications.
  • Crafted leadership and employee communications strategy, messaging and initiatives that drove meaningful improvement in employee engagement
  • Following a significant landslide at North America’s largest copper producing mine Led crisis communications response strategy that protected the company’s global and local brand reputation and sustained and built stakeholder relationships
  • Oversaw a successful rebranding initiative to support the permitting of a proposed copper mine
  • Provided strategic counsel to global business units and senior executives on a range of media, communications and stakeholder engagement issues.
  • Created and delivered Copper & Diamonds leadership communications training curricula
  • Developed first-of-it-kind global business intranet solution, requiring oversight of virtual and highly matrixed team of developers, information technology professionals and content editors to achieve result on time and on budget
  • Managed digital assets and social media at the operating and global level, including the re-design the digital communications and social media strategy of a project in the permitting stage
  • Established processes and protocols for key areas of the business including investor relations, external communications and product group communications.
  • Served as product group liaison to corporate center.
  • Mentored and developed staff

 

Resolution Copper Company                 
Rio Tinto mining project expected to produce 25% of US copper demand and employ 3000 people
Corporate Communications Director                                                                                           
October 2003 – March 2015

Established and implemented communications and stakeholder engagement programs that resulted in 84 percent community support for the project

  • Developed a far-reaching campaign, using both traditional and new media, that increased the intensity of support for the company and its legislative efforts by 15 percentage points
  • Directed and drove all aspects of the company’s comprehensive and integrated local, regional, national and global internal and external communications programs
  • Oversaw and implemented extensive stakeholder research including public opinion polls, statewide surveys, social impact assessments and employee attitude surveys
  • Served on the executive leadership team and provide communications counsel to the CEO
  • Managed and executed against an annual communications budget of more than $2 million
  • Built and led a high-performing team; managed external agencies and consultants

 

American Golf Association                                
Nationwide golf management provider with more the 90 courses in the United States
Marketing Manager                                                                                                                
June 2002 – October 2003

Conceptualized, created and implemented club-specific marketing campaigns for more than 60 private country clubs

  • Designed and implemented regional public relations strategies and campaigns
  • Developed marketing strategy and collateral to support sales personnel in prospecting sales in top-tier private clubs
  • Established best practices in private golf club marketing to drive revenue through membership sales
  • Formed and managed relationships with key mass media outlets
  • Managed advertising agency relationships and collateral development

 

Luce Online                                                   
Privately-held provider of real-time media monitoring for national and international clients
Public Relations Director                                                                                                           
March 2000 – June 2002

Planned and drove national public relations strategies

  • Developed outreach initiative that resulted in significant, positive media coverage of Luce product features and benefits
  • Represented company as a keynote speaker on panels throughout the United States
  • Managed local, state and national media relations program

 

Giant Industries (now Western Refining)                                                                                 
Independent oil refiner and marketer
Corporate Communication Director                                                                                               
May 1998  – March 2002

Led internal and external communications programs and initiatives

  • Established well-regarded advertising campaign in the southwestern United States to build brand awareness and company image. Frontline employees were featured at retail stations.
  • Developed and managed employee communications programs for more than 2,700 employees.
  • Coordinated regional special events
  • Administered company corporate contributions programs
  • Managed company speaker's bureau
  • Coordinated regional volunteer activities
     

EDUCATION

Masters of Science, Development Management
Open University (UK)

Bachelor of Arts, Journalism
Arizona State University

  • Summa Cum Laude graduate
  • AS Regents Merit Scholarship and Club Scholarship, Lance Memorial Scholarship, ASU Press Club/Foundation Scholarship

HONORS & ACCREDITATIONS

  • International Association of Business Communicators, Accredited Business Communicator (2011)
  • Valley Leadership, Class 32 (2011)
  • Graduate, Open University, UK, Post-graduate diploma 2007         
  • Graduate, Certificate Program, London Business School, Emerging Leaders Program, UK, 2006
  • Graduate, Cambridge University Industry Program, UK, 2005
  • Who's Who Among American Business Professionals

Skills & Languages

Kinetic

Communicative

Organized

Empathetic

Collaborative

English

Spanish

 

References Available Upon Request

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Testimonials

Jennifer is one of the most energetic and empathetic professionals I’ve experienced in my 35 years in branding and CSR communications.
— Park Howell, President of Park&Co and Founder of The Business of Story
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Jen lives and breathes excellence in leadership and what it takes to bring great teams together. She invests in relationships, is balanced, focused and flexible, all the while nurturing the spark of what makes people accountable to each other. It is not easy to achieve the twin leadership goals of collaboration and delegation and Jen does this both with aplomb and with a palpable lightness of being.
— Robyn Ellison, Communications Manager for Rio Tinto Diamonds
Jennifer Russo is an exceptional person and leader. I am fortunate to have worked on her team for the last five years, and I am constantly impressed by her ability to develop effective relationships, earn and maintain trust, and execute world class communications in a complex and constantly changing environment. Not only is Jennifer an inspiring leader, she’s a true friend and confidant. I would recommend her to any organization that is ready for a brilliant mind, a hard worker, and someone who delivers results and exceeds expectations. She’s a super star!
— - Lita Madlang, Employee and Corporate Communications Specialist, Rio Tinto
Jen is a communications pro who is exceptional at integrating diverse teams, and building a corporate culture of true inclusion.
— - Patty Johnson, Connections Marketing and Communications

Success Stories

Internal communications: Leveraging social media to make the workplace safer

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In a mining operation, where work is done on a giant scale and often underground, nothing matters more than safety. Solid policies, programs and practices are the foundation of this work, but a safe workplace fundamentally relies on the commitment of the workforce.

In early 2018, the company was doing a laudable job communicating the vital importance of safety. Awareness was high, and employees gave leadership consistently high marks. But when the company challenged its leaders deliver a step change in their safety performance, I designed a communications program that would engage not just employees’ minds, but also capture their hearts.

The answer was #MyWhy. An innovative, social media campaign built on the Yammer platform, #MyWhy asked employees to share photos and videos of their reasons for staying safe, be it family, a beloved hobby or a life goal.

During the six-week contest, hundreds of employees shared their “why” stories to the online group, which was previously a repository of safety policies and procedures.

The initiative drove a 620 percent increase in overall activity and a 400 percent increase in engagement. While the campaign was designed for a single business unit, #MyWhy became the number one topic across the entire company’s network. The campaign has since been replicated across Rio Tinto.

 

Leadership: Building a high-functioning global team

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In 2016, when an international business launched a far-reaching initiative to better support its global operations, I built, developed and led a team that became a model for the entire business.

The change process involved the consolidation of two disparate pieces of a business with operations scattered across Australia, Canada and the United States. In addition, team members formerly assigned to these operations were combined into a single Communities & Communications team.

In a few short months, I gained an understanding of the widely varying approaches of each team and of their key projects, initiatives, structure, talent, partnerships and relationships. I explored the perceptions of internal and external stakeholders and worked with team members to understand their roles, strengths, weaknesses and wants and needs.

Working with global leaders and organizational experts, I designed the team, ensuring strong leadership and an efficient, effective and consistent structure across the organization. I created and implemented a team development plan, including cross-functional meetings and workshops, team building and best-practice sharing.

The result was a cohesive, connected and capable team that consistently delivered strong results, including a best in class social investment strategy, dramatically improved achievement of community outreach goals, and consistently positive reviews and rankings from internal customers

 

Reputation management: Building awareness and shifting public perception

In 2015 I took on the role of chair of the Internal Copper Association’s (ICA)/Copper Alliance Communications Committee, leading a global initiative to educate the public about copper’s vital contribution to society, and to shift perceptions of the industry as a whole.

Research demonstrated that among the general population, there was little understanding of the red metal’s many significant benefits.

Working with the ICA and other member companies, Jennifer helped shape a holistic reputation campaign, “Copper Makes the World Work Better.”

The campaign was built around compelling, fact-based messages that proved this notion and included high-impact videos highlighting copper’s contribution to energy efficiency -- including climate change mitigation – supported with supplemental materials such as backgrounders, infographics, photography and print advertising.

These materials, combined with “how-to” communications and consultation, empowered ICA’s members with compelling messages about how copper and the copper industry are making positive contributions to many of society’s greatest challenges, and how copper is critical to sustainable development.

 

Media relations: Generating visibility and goodwill

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While purveyors of diamonds – DeBeers, Cartier and Tiffany & Company -- are household names, diamond producers often go largely unnoticed.

In support of diamonds sales and the company’s reputation, my team designed and executed an initiative targeted at global media outlets and aimed at raising awareness of the high-quality diamonds produced by the company, as well as its commitment to sustainable practices.

The approach included identifying media-worthy programs, events and partnerships and pitching these stories to respected outlets read and viewed by the company’s top-tier stakeholders.

To demonstrate the exceptional quality of the company’s diamonds, the team managed public engagements, speaking opportunities and media outreach surrounding the sale of 58 rare pink, red and violet diamonds to collectors around the world.

The campaign generated coverage in global outlets such as ABC News, Rapaport, CNN and the Australian Financial Review. Sales of the collection grew by double digits over the previous year with the premier lot becoming the most valuable diamond in the tender’s 33-year history. In addition to increasing sales, the initiative effectively communicated to investors the company’s ongoing commitment to its diamonds business.

 

Leadership communications: Engaging internal and external stakeholders.

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As part of a far-ranging initiative to engage mid-level leaders and frontline employees in helping to deliver a new corporate strategy, in 2017 I developed and executed the business’s first leadership communications strategy.

Because frontline employees – and many managers – spent their days working in the field, reaching them with compelling communications was challenging. In response, I deigned and led a team in executing on-site Town Halls hosted by senior leadership, a company-wide recognition program, communication training for “critical middle” leaders, and quarterly leadership calls, messaging and tools to support leaders at all levels in communicating with their teams.

Following implementation of the plan, an all-employee survey measured strong awareness and understanding of new strategy. Employee engagement was also high, with the majority of employees saying they understood the role they played in delivering the strategy and felt good about their contribution to it.

On the external front, I created a plan to increase awareness of the strategy, build stakeholder confidence in the direction of the business, and establish the newly named CEO as a thought leader. 

This work included crafting the CEO’s “brand” and message platform, as well as researching high-impact external engagements. In partnership with business leaders and content experts, Jennifer crafted speeches, presentations and media briefing papers and supported executives’ participation in conferences, interviews and media events. As a result, the CEO went from being largely unknown to an established expert in the industry.