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In her role at Patagonia, one of America’s most respected, purpose driven companies, Corley Kenna leads the communication and policy team and is responsible for the development and execution of Patagonia’s global communication strategy and the advancement of key policy issues related to the company’s business and advocacy priorities. She leads strategy for the company’s environmental activism campaigns, advancing responsible business practices, and strengthening democracy/civil engagement.
Kenna began her career in government and politics with Congressman John Lewis (GA) and Senator Zell Miller (GA) and later worked for Senator Tom Carper (DE). She also spent election cycles with Hillary for New York and Hillary for President before rounding out her time in government in the Obama administration, serving as a senior advisor in the US State Department in the office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
From there, she made the shift to the agency business, serving as managing director and chief of staff to the CEO of Burson-Marsteller, building and maintaining global client and media relationships at one of the world’s leading communication agencies. From there, she moved in -house, serving as vice president for public affairs and corporate communications at Ralph Lauren, where she led media response and strategy for corporate affairs and crisis situations, before making the move to Patagonia in September of 2016.
Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
In 2018, I helped to launch the Time to Vote movement, alongside my team at Patagonia and the teams at Levi's and PayPal. Our movement is now nearly 2,000 companies strong and we offer a meaningful and easy way for CEOs to support our democracy. Thank goodness Patagonia is not bound by convention in how we measure performance.
What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
We are living in a time when facts, not opinions, are political and polarizing, and trust in established institutions has never been lower.
What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?
Globally complicated, sensitive and emotional topics are now workplace issues. These topics require communications strategies that are holistic, inclusive, and very time consuming and we are rising to the challenge.
What has most disappointed you about this industry over the past year?
Our industry perpetuates the lack of corporate accountability on the climate and nature crisis.
How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness over the past year?Spending time in the mountains where I have limited, crappy wifi and no cell reception.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through the past year or provided inspiration?
Reading historical fiction and The Bitter Southerner. Listening to Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jason Isbell and too many cheesy songs to list here. Watching PBS NewsHour and CBS Sunday Morning.
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Sleeping a lot more and splitting my time between Ischia, Italy and Highlands, North Carolina.
Sum up 2022 in one word.
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