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Managing Director, Chicago & Midwest

Areas of Expertise:

# Crisis, Issues & Litigation

# Reputation & Brand Management

# Health

# Food, Consumer Products & Retail

Kelly Stepno is an attorney with more than 25 years of consulting experience in crisis and reputation management across various industries. Currently serving as managing director in APCO’s Chicago office overseeing the Midwest region, she has managed a range of reputation threatening events for clients. This includes product liability lawsuits, activist investors, supply chain disruptions, government investigations, product recalls, patent disputes, consumer protests, cyber security issues and leadership transitions. Some of her projects have included advising a hospital system during a cybersecurity crisis, directing strategy and stakeholder engagement related to product liability litigation for a medical device company, developing a crisis communications strategy for a management consulting company, crisis scenario planning with the product health & safety team for a technology company, and supporting the CEO transition for a major auto manufacturer. While her primary area of focus has been in the pharmaceutical, medical device and hospital sectors, she has experience across a number of other industries including environmental, manufacturing, automotive, consumer goods and food & beverage.

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”

– Mary Anne Radmacher

Before joining APCO, Kelly served as senior associate at Booz Allen Hamilton. In her role, she advised clients and developed strategies to capitalize on opportunities and mitigate risks, with a focus on data-driven decision-making. This included leading change management/communications efforts in support of a data science platform for a Fortune 50 company and managing multiple strategic communications and issues management projects for a pharmaceutical company across markets (United States, South America, Asia). She also directed digital listening efforts, risk and opportunity identification, issue reporting and management and the development of stakeholder engagement strategies for a pharmaceutical company. Before engaging in commercial work at Booz Allen Hamilton, Kelly assisted federal clients in developing strategies to assist with the implementation of key elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Prior to joining Booz Allen Hamilton, Kelly spent 14 years at TMG Strategies in Arlington, Virginia, eventually serving as vice president and corporate counsel, where she worked directly with her clients’ senior management teams on complex reputation, crisis, and litigation issues. While with TMG Strategies, Kelly launched a new offering of the consultancy, dedicated to identifying, researching and engaging academics and other issue-specific experts to provide perspective to stakeholders (e.g., consumers, media, shareholders) on complex issues. She also prepared crisis scenarios for client crisis trainings and assisted with the curriculum for, and implementation of, media and presentation training sessions.

A lecturer at the University of Maryland between 2012 and 2021, Kelly holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a Juris Doctorate and Master of Business Administration degrees from George Mason University. She was admitted to the Virginia state bar in 2003 and remains an active member.