ELITE Transformational Leader Kim Johnson of PALIO

Kim Johnson




Igniting an Agency’s Evolution

If you ask anyone at PALIO to describe Kim Johnson’s impact in one word, you will hear “momentum.” Her inauguration as President in 2014 ignited a remarkable agency transformation prompted by a clear vision. Kim started with re-energizing the agency’s brand by renaming it PALIO. Formerly known as Palio+Ignite, following the merger of those two agencies, Kim recognized that the agency was now one company with a shared passion for big ideas and creative innovation in health and wellness. Meanwhile, the tagline “ignited” keeps with the agency’s tradition and sculpts a voice in the marketplace that clearly communicates how they ignite brands in bold and beautifully disruptive ways.

Kim’s results-oriented personality grounded her strategy for the agency around four imperatives: Brilliant ideas, strategic excellence, transformative technology and community cultivation. But the central theme was growth. Kim knew that the biggest driver of growth would be the agency’s multi-geography model. With offices in California (Irvine and Santa Monica) and New York (New York City and Saratoga Springs), Kim organized PALIO around its books of business—changing the agency’s growth trajectory dramatically. Under this model, new leaders emerged—veteran and new employees—who wanted a deeper role in shaping the agency’s future.

Kim is quick to recognize the contributions of individuals who go way above and beyond, including Andrea Kretzmann, Managing Director on the West Coast; Laura Presicci, VP, Creative Director; Cheryl Fielding, SVP, Client Services; Maureen Wendell, Managing Director of the Saratoga Springs office; Paul Harrington, SVP, Creative Director; Matthew Howes leading innovation; and Executive Creative Directors, Michael Austin and Louis Massaia.

But it is Kim who challenges the agency’s employees to differentiate and create value for their client partners—leading all to push beyond boundaries in the pursuit of innovation. And in doing so, she changed the way the employees engaged with each other—fueling a new way of thinking and working together across multiple geographies. She raised the bar on the work: Her energy and optimism are contagious. All want to be part of it.


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