Sandra W. Harbrecht, APR

President & CEO

An insatiable appetite for learning eventually presents opportunities to provide meaningful counsel.

This statement perhaps best embodies who Sandy is and her ability to leave and indelible mark on everything she touches and influences.

As the second generation to lead the firm founded by her father in 1963, Sandy provides the senior leadership and strategic direction for the firm’s communication counsel. Her expertise across the strategic communication spectrum and public policy communication keeps her at the forefront of thought leadership conversations and regularly garners an invitation to the table when stakes are high.

That is where Sandy thrives – applying her knowledge and experience in corporate America and as a distinguished educator for more than a decade to the benefit of clients. Her most rewarding work is often unsung and out of the limelight, providing thoughtful, strategic and confidential counsel to CEOs and C-suite executives facing the challenges of their day. Her exemplary example of grace under pressure gives leaders the courage to tackle difficult issues with newfound confidence.

An active civic leader and champion of her industry, Sandy credits some of her greatest accomplishments coming through her work on civic boards, specifically her tenure as the board chair at her alma mater, Kent State University, where she also chaired the Presidential Search Committee during her term. A trailblazing leader like her father before her, she has chaired the Counselor’s Academy, the only association for PR firms in the country at the time, and is a founding member of the PR Council the only national trade group representing the public relations consulting industry.

Sandy’s commitment to community sets the tone and inspires a work culture where getting involved and giving back is highly encouraged and equally contagious.

Getting to know Sandra:

What inspires you?
Our clients have been my greatest inspiration and motivation. I have been moved by their generosity of spirit, touched by their courage in the face of daunting challenges, awed by their grace under fire, impressed by their will to do what is right, not what is easy. Realizing that not everyone gets to work with people like this is humbling.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
Paul Werth. He was always “all in” for his clients and for any leadership role he took on. My dad’s wheels were always turning – and the ideas were always flowing. He had a tremendous ethic – his word was sacred. Everyone knew he could be trusted to tell you the truth – sometimes in a rather unvarnished way. But, you always knew where you stood. He had charisma, too. His love of people and his wonderful sense of humor gave him a beguiling warmth. Of course, he often said he owed his success to my mom – and I can totally see that.
What does it mean to have influence?
To be a compelling force in the lives of others – to shape the values, the behaviors and the way others see the world. The most influential people I know read people really well and know what to do and say at just the right moment to make the other person feel valued. To their credit, most influential people really work at becoming influential – it’s not intuitive.
What are your must-have sources for news?
MSNBC on the treadmill. The Columbus Dispatch over coffee. NPR in the car. The Week every Monday. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Yahoo windows whenever I can.
What is your social network of preference?
LinkedIn. It’s a fantastic tool for building a network and staying in touch, for getting the word out to a business audience, for finding long-lost colleagues, the next big hire and business leads. I use LinkedIn every day and can’t imagine a business world without it.
What do you do for fun when you're not working?
Vive la France and New York City! Since teaching in Paris when I was 20 years old, I have loved all things French – visiting the country, reading about it, listening to its music. And, when I’m not dreaming of Paris, I’m plotting my next trip – or someone else’s -- to New York City. I love to be outdoors, to run, to spend time with friends -- and to laugh out loud with Ryan and Robin Ratchford.