Imperato Takes Helm at Cohn & Wolfe; Aiello to Chairman
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Imperato Takes Helm at Cohn & Wolfe; Aiello to Chairman

After 12 years at Cohn & Wolfe, Steve Aiello has been named chairman of the firm, making way for Donna Imperato to assume control of day-to-day operations, initially as chief operating officer and in the fall as chief executive

Paul Holmes

NEW YORK, May 24—After 12 years at the helm of Cohn & Wolfe, Steve Aiello has been named chairman of the firm, making way for Donna Imperato to assume control of the firm’s day-to-day operations, initially as chief operating officer and in the fall as chief executive worldwide.
 
The move triggered a series of other appointments. Kathryn Metcalfe, head of Cohn & Wolfe’s healthcare practice, will succeed Imperato as CEO of Cohn & Wolfe New York; Martin Ellis  is promoted from director of international development to president of Europe/Middle East/Africa and Asia Pacific; and Doug Buemi has been named vice chairman of Cohn & Wolfe, stepping up from his responsibility as CEO of Cohn & Wolfe’s western operations.      
 
In addition, Cohn & Wolfe formed a global board earlier this year which includes Aiello, Imperato, Buemi, and Ellis, as well as CFO Michael Gross, and Franco Guzzi, 50, managing director of Cohn & Wolfe Italy, who plays an important role in the company’s European operations.
 
“This is an incredibly dynamic management team,” said Mike Dolan, chairman and CEO of parent company Young & Rubicam.  “Steve, Donna, Kathryn and the global board members each bring their particular brand of expertise to the management mix.  Collectively, their complementary skills and styles will assure Cohn & Wolfe’s continued leadership in the industry.”
 
The moves come after a difficult year for Cohn & Wolfe, which closed its flagship Atlanta office as well as several smaller outposts, and saw its revenues decline almost 10 percent. More troubling, perhaps, the firm seemed to lose some of its distinctiveness, while lacking the critical mass of other full-service agencies.
 
“We have had a rough year,” Imperato concedes. But in addition to the healthcare practice, which Imperato built and which remained strong under Metcalfe’s leadership, “we are unbelievable marketers here, and I would like to see us get back to our roots in marketing, to build a strong consumer practice. That doesn’t mean we won’t do corporate, but we will do it from a marketing, positioning perspective.”
 
Aiello has been with Cohn & Wolfe for 12 years, joining from his position as executive vice president and director of public affairs for Burson-Marsteller. Aiello served in the White House as special assistant to President Carter for ethnic/urban affairs. He also held the office of the president of the New York City Board of Education for three years.
 
In addition to her six years at Cohn & Wolfe, Donna Imperato has held senior roles at a number of public relations agencies, including Burson-Marsteller.
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