NEW YORK – Edelman has named Helga Ying global and U.S. chair of Purpose, effective January 4. Ying will be based in San Francisco and report to Katie Burke, Chief Strategy officer and global head of Practices and Sectors. In her role as U.S. chair, Ying will report to Russell Dubner, U.S. president & CEO.
“The new mandate for brands is to do, say, advocate,” said Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman. “Our Trust Barometer found that consumers will buy or boycott a brand based upon their societal action. With more than 25 years of experience counseling brands and corporations on social purpose, public affairs and community engagement, Helga will ensure our clients lead with actions rooted in purpose that prompt substantive change.”
Ying joins Edelman from the International AIDS Society, where she served as Head of Local Office, AIDS 2020. In that role she oversaw the management of the local offices in San Francisco and Oakland for the 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020), which is the world’s largest event on HIV and AIDS.
Prior to her current role, Ying was vice president of External Engagement and Social Responsibility at American Eagle Outfitters. At American Eagle Outfitters, she led the strategic development, planning and execution of the retailer’s Social Responsibility, Government Affairs and Public Policy, Community Affairs and Foundation initiatives. Ying was also head of the company’s external and crisis communications functions along with its social compliance department, which helped to ensure safe and healthy working conditions within its supply chain.
Before American Eagle Outfitters, Ying spent more than a decade at Levi Strauss & Co. As senior director of Worldwide Government Affairs and Public Policy for the clothing manufacturer, she was the principal advisor and strategist on government affairs and public policy. She was responsible for managing international trade and corporate citizenship and brand protection.
Throughout her roles, Ying worked on campaigns tied to Purpose, including AIDS 2020’s Profiles in Resilience, AerieREAL’s partnership with the National Eating Disorders Association, American Eagle Outfitters’ PRIDE involvement with InterPride and It Gets Better, and Levi Strauss & Co.’s civic engagement with Rock the Vote and HeadCount. At Levi Strauss & Co., she was part of a team that received the first Bob Haas Leadership Award for Corporate Citizenship for its “Care Tag for Our Planet” campaign.
“For the past 25 years I have watched Purpose evolve from a ‘nice to have’ to a vital element of the company’s identity and core business,” said Ying. “Corporations and brands that don’t acknowledge their social responsibility risk losing the trust of stakeholders. Long an admirer of Edelman and the work they do for clients in the purpose and citizenship space, I’m truly excited to join this diverse and dynamic global network of experts.”
Ying will oversee Edelman’s strong global bench of Purpose leaders, which includes Alex Heath and Jackie Murphy (U.S.); Eve Laurier (Canada); Natalia Martinez (LatAm); Youngjin Kim and Antoine Calendrier (APAC); and Mark McGinn (EMEA). She will also partner with Chuka Umunna, executive director and head of Edelman’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) consultancy offer as well as Luciana Berger, managing director of Advocacy.
Ying has served on the Board of Directors of the Oakland Theater Project, the Berkeley Playhouse, Family Health International and the Cotton Board. She is a graduate of Macalester College and received a Master’s in International Relations and International Economics from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She was also a Fulbright-Hays scholar studying business management and works council at the University of Mannheim in Germany.