NEW YORK, NY – August 30, 2023 – Edelman today announced the appointment of three significant global leadership roles. Alex Thompson, an Edelman alumnus, has been appointed global chair of Edelman’s Corporate Affairs and Impact practices, overseeing over 1500 Edelman employees. Thompson’s return to Edelman follows two decades of communications leadership, most recently as chief communications officer for Thomson Reuters where he led communications, purpose, government & regulatory affairs, ESG strategy, and the Social Impact Institute. Prior to Thomson Reuters, he spent five years on the leadership team of Seattle-based outdoor retailer REI as vice president, brand stewardship & impact, uniting purpose, communications, employee recognition, government affairs, sustainability, and philanthropy. Thompson started his career at Edelman UK as an assistant account executive and left the New York office as executive vice president of Corporate & Public Affairs more than a decade later with on-the-ground experience in every Edelman region and many roles in between.

Julian Payne, who joined Edelman in early 2021, has been appointed the global chair, Crisis in addition to his current role as chair of Corporate Affairs for Edelman EMEA. Prior to joining Edelman, Payne worked for the British Royal Family as communications secretary to Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall now King Charles III and Queen Camilla and as a strategic advisor to the wider Institution. Previously, Payne held a series of global roles specializing in corporate, brand and digital communications for the BBC, where he was director of communications, and Burberry, where he held the post of VP global PR and corporate affairs.

Courtney Gray Haupt, a 13-year Edelman veteran, will take on a new role of global chief operating officer, Health sector in addition to her current role as chair, U.S. Health sector. Gray Haupt has led campaigns to increase vaccine confidence, improve consumer health and advance innovative treatments. Prior to joining Edelman, Gray Haupt served as vice president, public affairs and health policy, for Spectrum Science. Previously, Gray Haupt held the role of vice president, government affairs and communications, for Washington Health Advocates, where she focused on CDC, FDA and NIH policy and advocacy programs with stakeholders in the U.S., EU and Asia on clinical research issues and patient education.

“Alex, Julian, and Courtney represent the very best of Edelman in terms of deep practice, sector and client expertise, a global mindset, and exceptional management skills,” said Kirsty Graham, global president, Practices & Sectors and global chair, Health. “I’m thrilled to have this collaborative group onboard as we double-down on a strategy of greater integration across all of Edelman to better serve clients and foster excellence within our teams.” 

In their new roles, Thompson, Payne, and Gray Haupt will report directly to Graham.

Thompson succeeds Dave Samson, who is retiring from the firm after an illustrative 40-year career in public relations and communications. Payne succeeds Hugh Taggart, who left the firm in May. The appointments are effective immediately.