We’re back with the next installment of our staff spotlight series! The next interview is with Rachel Henderson, Executive Vice President based in Washington, D.C.
Christian Hendricks: Tell us about the corporate social good (CSG) practice at Fenton.
Rachel Henderson: The CSG practice supports purpose-driven brands dedicated to making the world a better place through its products and services, employees and customers, and the communities they serve. We help our corporate clients unleash the power of their brand’s purpose to accelerate social change and business impact. From program development to stakeholder engagement to disruptive communications campaigns, we ignite the strategic and creative spark that delivers stronger relevance with audiences, greater impact in society and tangible business results for our clients.
There are many definitions and terms that encompass what we do: corporate social responsibility (CSR); environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG); cause marketing, corporate accountability, and more. We chose “corporate social good” to aim to unify the many terms and keep it simple. At the heart of it all, we are focused on the social good to which our clients contribute.
CH: What are some of the exciting projects the CSG team is working on now?
RH: I believe Fenton leads the industry in authentic social change communications. Arguably the fastest-growing corporate purpose team with 18 new staff in the last year alone, our practice is responding to many of the most critical issues of our time. Just to name a few of our exciting projects, our communications campaigns shed light on frontline health workers’ needs for more resources, mental health care, innovative therapeutics to address HIV, TB, Covid, and more. We support a global Fortune 50 healthcare company’s investments in solutions that address racial health inequities in the U.S. and around the world. We lead communications for the largest CEO-driven business coalition committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. And we design cutting-edge creative for a global Fortune 500 automobile company’s commitment to pediatric cancer.
CH: What is most rewarding about leading this practice?
RH: In my opinion, there is no greater reward than managing people, counseling our clients on how they can best communicate their purpose and their social good commitments and recruiting, hiring and developing the best CSG team in the biz. It’s been an honor watching my team learn and grow together and move the needle on such important issues. This team cares deeply about the work and about each other.
CH: What social causes do you care about deeply?
RH: I care deeply about women’s rights, and this year has been a year of profound failure in progress on this issue. Women saw their bodily autonomy and right to privacy stripped away by the Dobbs decision. Maternal mortality rates in the U.S. are abysmal. Women continue to leave the workplace in greater numbers than men, without proper and affordable health care, sufficient paid leave and child care options, nor enough workplace allyship. Five years after the #MeToo movement ignited, many survivors are still awaiting justice. The Biden administration is still working to bring back Title IX protections that the Trump era stripped away from college students seeking justice from their rapists and abusers. And many states in this country still have a rape kit backlog, delaying the justice so many survivors deserve. It is infuriating when you reflect on this long list.
I’m also really passionate about the power of sports to do great social good, from supporting youth to building stronger communities to inspiring leadership and teamwork. I greatly admire what Stephen Curry and his wife Ayesha have done through the Eat.Learn.Play. Foundation and what Under Armour is doing with Curry Brand after we worked together to launch it. I watch with great admiration how the NBA and WNBA address social justice issues and combine efforts to raise awareness of Brittney Griner’s wrongful detention in Russia.
CH: Can you tell us more about your work with RefuSHE?
RH: I am also deeply passionate about supporting refugees and immigration. I have been for years, when I led communications for the United Nations Foundation’s United to Beat Malaria campaign (formerly Nothing But Nets). I serve on the U.S. Board of Directors for RefuSHE and offer communications and fundraising counsel to its leadership team. Its holistic model serving displaced women and girls is admirable and scalable. Over 100 million people have now been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of ongoing conflicts and crises. The world is failing them miserably. I really admire the organizations working tirelessly to support refugees, including LIRS, IRC, UNHCR, UNICEF, United to Beat Malaria, and many more.
CH: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
RH: My family and my dogs are very important to me. I got married this year! I am grateful to be done with wedding planning. My husband and I love to travel and have a few trips coming up. I’m a former athlete, and I used to run half marathons and other races, but I have traded in my running shoes for Peloton shoes. I’m still rehabbing a back injury, but looking forward to being back on the bike asap.
CH: As a big sports fan, what’s your favorite team?
RH: I am a really big fan of the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry. Long before they were winning championships, I was working with Steph when he was an ambassador for Nothing But Nets. The Warriors are an incredible organization and were great to work with. It’s been a lot of fun watching their success over the years and not at all surprising. As a former Pennsylvanian, I’m also a lifelong Steelers fan. It’s been a tough year to be a fan and I don’t envy the body of work in front of Coach Tomlin; rebuilding is really hard.
CH: What’s your proudest achievement?
RH: I am proud of Under the Net, the virtual reality documentary we launched at Nothing But Nets. It’s a story about Amisa and her family who were refugees living in Tanzania affected by malaria. It was the honor of a lifetime to get to tell her story. Bringing a VR film to life is a massive undertaking and I loved working with all our partners to make it a success. It was a real challenge and I’m proud of all the impact we’ve had with the film.
Thank you, Rachel!