The BrandLab names new CEO

Minneapolis-based nonprofit The BrandLab, which has offices in Milwaukee and Kansas City, announced that Kelli Williams will become the chief executive officer of the organization.

Williams officially assumes the CEO position after an interim stint starting last September.

“Kelli has the experience, passion, perspective and drive to take the organization into the next horizon,” said Mary Beth George, target marketing leader and board chair of The BrandLab.

Williams, who has been a professional speaker and strategic advisor for multiple Minneapolis-based businesses, joins The BrandLab after founding Williams Brand Consulting and co-founding 40 Acres Investments. In addition, Williams serves as an executive board member with the Greater Twin Cities United Way.

“I’m so proud of the opportunity to lead this organization.” said Williams, adding that as a biracial woman who has been in the marketing industry for nearly two decades, she has often been the only person of color in the room or in leadership. “This has been a very real part of my professional career. So, our mission-focused impact of changing both the face and the voice of the marketing industry is one that I know personally.”

The BrandLab’s purpose is to create more opportunities within the marketing and advertising industry for students from Indigenous, Black, Brown, AAPI, Latinx and/or Hispanic backgrounds. Started over 10 years ago in the Twin Cities, and more recently expanded to Kansas City, Milwaukee is the The BrandLab’s third market. A $1 million investment from Sussex-based Quad/Graphics Inc. – which has previous experience working with The BrandLab through its Minneapolis-based agency Periscope – helped attract the organization here.

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