Kelly Stepno, senior director with APCO Worldwide’s global crisis management and litigation communication practice, is an attorney with almost 20 years of consulting experience helping clients manage reputation threatening events including product withdrawals, verdicts in product liability lawsuits, patent disputes, regulatory activity, consumer protests, cyber security issues and executive misconduct. Her most recent projects include advising a company during a cybersecurity crisis, directing strategy and stakeholder engagement related to product liability litigation for a pharmaceutical company, and developing a crisis communications strategy for a management consulting company. While her primary area of focus has been in the pharmaceutical, medical device and hospital sectors, she has experience in other industries including environmental, manufacturing, consumer goods, and food & beverage.
Before joining APCO, Ms. Stepno 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, Ms. Stepno 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, Ms. Stepno spent 14 years at TMG Strategies in Arlington, Virginia, eventually serving as vice president and corporate counsel, where she worked directly with clients’ senior management on complex reputation, crisis and litigation issues. While with TMG Strategies, Ms. Stepno launched a new division 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 curriculum for, and implementation of, media and presentation training sessions.
A lecturer at the University of Maryland since 2012, Ms. Stepno holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and juris doctorate and master of business administration degrees from George Mason University. Ms. Stepno was admitted to the Virginia state bar in 2003, and remains an active member.