DETROIT—Gary Grates, who was named vice president of communications for General Motors’ North American operations in the fall of 2003, is to become a strategic communications advisor to the company while consulting with other clients.
Grates says he will work primarily with GM chief executive Rick Wagoner and head of marketing Mark LeNeve, and will continue to serve on the company’s communications strategy board.
He says he initially approached GM communications chief Tom Kowaleski about the move—which is unrelated to GM’s recent difficulties and headcount reductions—at the beginning of this year. “It’s a great move for me personally and professionally and I’ve been working on it for about six months,” he says. “I’m looking forward to continue my relationship with GM, branching out again and leveraging this experience. GM is a great place, but being away from my family for the last three years was difficult.”
Grates officially joined GM more than two years ago after serving for approximately two years as an on-site consultant, representing what was then GCI Boxenbaum Grates, an employee communications subsidiary of GCI Group. He had joined GCI when it acquired his former firm, Boxenbaum Grates.
Kowaleski will assume responsibility for North America communications in addition to his current role.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gary for his excellent work, insights and collaboration over the past three and one-half years,” he said in a memo to staff. “I’m delighted he is able to balance his family-work life and that we will continue to benefit from his skills and expertise.”