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Kristen Cavallo becomes first female CEO of The Martin Agency

Kristen Cavallo poses for a portrait at The Girls' Lounge, giving visibility to women at Advertising Week 2016, at the New York Times Building on September 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for The Girls' Lounge )

RICHMOND, Va. — Kristen Cavallo has been named Chief Executive Officer of The Martin Agency.

Cavallo, who most recently worked for the MullenLowe Group, previously worked for the Richmond-based advertising firm for 13 years.

“Kristen has been described as bringing stability and purpose to teams and organizations, even those on unstable ground. When she oversaw business development at The Martin Agency, the firm doubled in size and was named Agency of the Year by Adweek. At the helm of MullenLowe’s Boston operation, and then as the head of strategy and growth for their U.S. operations, she helped drive double-digit growth at that network. Kristen loves a challenge and we’re very happy she’s agreed to take on this key role in what has for many years been her home town,” Michael Roth, Chairman and CEO of Interpublic Group, said.

In making the announcement Interpublic Group, the Martin Agency’s parent company, did not say what former CEO Matt Williams’ role would be with the company.

The Cavallo announcement comes weeks after Martin Agency Chief Creative Officer Joe Alexander resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment.

An Interpublic Group spokesperson said Cavallo was a “long-standing champion of women’s issues” and was named an Ad Age Woman to Watch in 2014.

“This is an important moment. I want people to feel the possibilities that exist for this agency. They are talking about us, but soon I hope they are rooting for us. As a strategist, I love opportunities for transformation, and feel fortunate to play a part, with the full support of Interpublic and its leadership, to help re-write the ending of this chapter,” Cavallo said. “Obviously, there is a need for a new direction, and the culture has to evolve. To be the first female CEO of this agency, in this year, under these circumstances – the weight of this isn’t lost on me. It’s going to be hard, but we can do hard things. As a mom, I want my kids to see that, and to set an example that resilience and possibility matter.”

Alexander called reports on the allegations against him “false.”

“The Martin Agency is my family,” he said in a statement following his resignation. “Rather than a drawn-out, hurtful investigation, resigning was the proper thing to do to protect my family and all the people I’ve worked so closely together with in my 26 wonderful years. I will always love that place and the people who make it so special. Please respect my privacy during this very, very sad time.”

Alexander’s role at Martin Agency has not yet been filled.