Strategic Partners

Laurel Kennedy – PR and Crisis Management

As a published author [St. Martin’s Press] and founder of the food channel crisis management firm Blink, Kennedy knows what it’s like to be on the media firing line, and to have a firm’s future outlook influenced by your statements. That visceral experience has attuned Kennedy to the unique needs of senior executives facing stressful and demanding crises situations that put every ounce of their wile and expertise to the test.

Kennedy has proven a popular “talking head” and presenter, appearing on national television including CNBC and Comcast TV, Talk Network Radio, as an expert witness in the Superior Courts, and as a keynote speaker before numerous industry and corporate forums. Kennedy’s opinions and innovative solutions have garnered headlines in a variety of media including Yahoo! Finance,,,, the Copley News Service, Irish Times, Dallas Morning News, Hollywood Reporter Advertising Age, Chamber of Commerce Magazine and Consumer Insight to name a few.

While a senior executive with Edelman Worldwide and Ketchum, Kennedy’s marketing and communications work for clients like Johnson Wax, Keebler, Kraft, Kellogg, Nielsen, Quaker Oats, Pepsi, Sara Lee and the YMCA has won dozens of accolades including National Telly Awards, Silver Anvil Awards [PRSA], Golden Trump Awards [PCC], IABC Awards, Addy Awards [AAF], Davey Awards [IAVA], Gold Mercury Awards and CIPRAs. She holds the MBA with honors from the world-ranked University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where her honors thesis explored the impact of gender differences on field sales performance.

Paula McMartin Hahn – PR and Crisis Management

Paula brings an award-winning 25 year career in public relations, helping clients proactively address business-critical issues and crises. Combining experience garnered at the global (Ketchum, Porter Novelli) and boutique agency (Marina Maher Communications) levels with in-house corporate experience, Paula has helped brands like Aveda, Dawn, Pepsi, Dannon, Miller Brewing, Volvo and Six Flags neutralize potential crises and stage headline-generating special events.

For the past 10 years Paula has evolved into a Social Media expert ultimately creating a mash-up of crisis/issues experience with Social Media savvy. She’s best known for her work with clients, teaching them how to manage complaints, rumors and misinformation in the 24/7 digital world.

Phil Gruszka – Strategic Partner

Phil Gruszka was born and raised in Chicago. He graduated from the University of Illinois and got his MBA at Washington University. He has worked in marketing and sales roles at Anheuser Busch, Ralston Purina, and Sara Lee in the US and Europe. He made a name for himself in the agriculture industry serving as the Vice President of Marketing at Grimmway Farms for 9 years. In 2012 he opened his own consulting business to help produce companies with all of their marketing and sales needs, partnering the McDill team for strategy and design.

Lisa Keenan – Photographer

For decades, Lisa has wowed clients like The Discovery Channel, the de Young and Legion of Honor Museums, Whole Foods and Carnation, as well as many McDill clients, with her stunning food and product images. From packaging to advertising, catalogs to commercial shots, Lisa’s rich experience gives her the ability to quickly understand what each project requires, then compose and create images that move your customers — and your business —forward. Lisa believes collaboration inspires truly great photography. That’s why her partnership with McDill has helped line our office shelves with many awards for visuals that we’ve created for our clients.

Food Consultants Group

McDill Associates is proud to be a member of The Food Consultants Group (FCG). FCG is the most diverse organization in the world covering every aspect of the food industry – Retail, Restaurants, FCG 25 Years Foodservice and Food Processing. You can choose from working with a single food consultant to to a multi-disciplined team to handle all your food or restaurant needs. Learn more at