For nearly 30 years, Kathleen Sarpy has enjoyed a diverse career in public relations and marketing, working with the world’s most recognizable brands and corporations, and serving as a driving force behind emerging start-ups and non-profits. With unrivaled energy and enthusiasm, Kathleen expertly connects people, events and ideas to generate meaningful and lasting impact. A former senior executive at the leading global PR firm, Kathleen left her “big agency” life behind in January 2001 after the birth of her first child to bootstrap her own firm without a backup plan. Alone in her suburban basement (next to her sump pump!), 7-months pregnant with her second child and only armed with a laptop, tons of tenacity and goodwill, Kathleen’s goal was simple: offer world-class strategy and creativity to the world’s most respected companies by eliminating bureaucracy without ever sacrificing kindness or focusing on motherhood. Now 20 years later, Kathleen now manages an incredibly talented team of professionals that supports dozens of global, national and Chicago-based clients in the consumer packaged goods, hospitality, finance, real estate and non-profit spaces.
Kathleen has never lost sight of the “5” in her company’s name that remains the cornerstone of her business: kindness, creativity, passion, hustle and integrity. Throughout its evolution, Agency H5 has been recognized alongside the best PR firms in the country, winning National Small Agency of the Year and Best Place to Work by PR News multiple times. Her value-driven agency ranked #11 among Top Company Culture’s in America by Entrepreneur.com and has been recognized as a Best Place to Work by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Personally, Kathleen has been named PR Professional of the Year by PRSA Chicago and nationally among Top Women in PR and recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year by Fifth Third Bank (2016) and the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago (2019). She’s regularly featured as an expert voice on outlets like NBC (including “Today”), Entrepreneur.com, PR News and PR Week among others. Believing that life teaches you lessons that must be shared to inspire and empower others, she frequently contributes to NBC.com’s BETTER platform on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to motherhood. A fierce advocate for protecting kindness in the workplace, she also has contributed to several books on the topic including: Kindness in Leadership (Gay Haskins, 2018), Chicago Lights (Abigail Zoe Martin, 2018) and Culture Stories from Inspiring Leaders (Greg Besner, 2020).
Beyond her professional commitments, Kathleen finds deep value in giving back by proudly supporting a number of civic organizations and local philanthropies that reflect her dedication to the city and the communities it serves including the Economic Club of Chicago, Breakthrough Urban Ministries, the Nora Project, Enchanted Backpack, Joffrey Ballet’s Women’s Board, Ronald McDonald House Charities and the United Way. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Purdue University, she founded the International Council of Purdue Women in 2017 (now the Purdue Women’s Network) to unite, motivate, engage and inspire 200,000 alumnae worldwide. However, her biggest and proudest achievement to date is being a mother of six incredible children ages 21-12. She resides in Wheaton, Illinois with her husband Chris and a bustling household of kids and an uncooperative English Bulldog named Hope.
Purdue Women’s Network Speech
Blog Post for Charity Photo Campaign
American Express Business
NBC Better (National Contributor)
March 4, 2017
November 22, 2017
When the bottom drops out: How losing my marriage made me more thankful
June 17, 2018
At a loss: How losing a loved one can help you take stock of what really matters
September 15, 2018
How I survived the shock of dropping my kid off at college
November 15, 2018
Stress landed me in the hospital. The prescription was my first ‘me-cation’.