NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Willard (Bill) Nielsen, corporate vice president for public affairs and corporate communications at Johnson & Johnson for the past 14 years, will retire from the company effective December 31. His position will be filled by Raymond Jordan, who joined J&J last year as vice president on the corporate staff. Jordan will take over on October 1, and Nielsen will continue through the end of the year as a special advisor to chairman and chief executive officer William Weldon.
Under Nielsen’s leadership, Johnson & Johnson’s public relations and corporate communications division has been responsible for overseeing the public affairs activities of a decentralized family of more than 200 broadly based health care operating companies in 57 countries around the world.
“Bill has led the development of our Corporate Communications division as a vital management function throughout his tenure,” says Weldon. “He has been a staunch proponent of the ethical principles embodied in Our Credo as a basis for executive management decision-making. His counsel on the myriad issues that regularly confront us will be missed, but the example he set for integrity and his consistent approach to values-based actions will continue to be central to the business conduct of this company.”
Before joining J&J, Jordan spent 17 years with Pfizer and was Vice president, communications and information before joining the corporate communications group at Johnson & Johnson. At J&J, he has spearheaded development of communications strategies for the medical devices and diagnostics segment, one of the company’s three primary business segments.
Nielsen joined Johnson & Johnson in 1988 following 18 years as a public relations consultant, first with Carl Byoir & Associates and then with Hill & Knowlton when the two firms merged in 1986. At H&K he worked on the Johnson & Johnson account before joining the company in 1988. He was promoted to his current position in 1990 and was elected a Corporate Officer in 1992.
“One thing I’m very proud of is the fact that Ray is being promoted immediately to corporate officer rank, which is where I have been, and he will report directly to the CEO, as I have,” Nielsen says. “This truly is a demonstration by management of the critical role communications/public relations plays in the leadership mix at Johnson & Johnson.”
Nielsen was instrumental in developing and nurturing the National Safe Kids campaign, a 16-year program that served as a business-building platform for Johnson & Johnson, and contributed to a more than 40 percent reduction in unintentional injury to children. He also led a 10-year public relations and advertising education program for the pharmaceutical industry through the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association.