The McKPR Team

Gwen McKinney | Shannon Mouton Gray | Llenda Jackson-Leslie | Nicole Hayes | Phyllis Wilder | Richard Montgomery | Vincent Hughes | Joyce Taylor | Carmel Ferrer | Ron Simms Jr.

Gwen McKinney
President and Founder of McKinney & Associates

Gwen McKinney is responsible for translating the vision of public relations with a conscience into a sustained and tested suite of communications services and activities. Gwen blends strategic savvy with an unparalleled commitment to social justice and public policy for change. She has provided strategic planning and public relations counsel to leaders and organizations working on issues ranging from adult literacy and tobacco control to health equity and environmental justice. In October 2012, Gwen was selected as one of three finalists for the Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) prestigious PR Woman of the Year Award.

In the early days of her communications career, Gwen worked with the United Nations Council on Namibia and designed an international public education campaign supporting independence of Namibia. She also worked closely with the U.S. antiapartheid movement and helped promote Nelson Mandela’s first state visit. She has traveled through the southern African region and spent six months in Namibia as a communications specialist and observer of the independence elections in the late 1980s.

Shannon Mouton Gray
Marketing & Digital Media Director

Shannon Mouton leads the internal marketing and digital communications efforts for McKinney. She is a relationship marketing professional, with a passion for utilizing social technology for building business relationships, sharing information and advancing the greater good. Her 20-plus years of marketing, communications and community-building experiences have afforded her unique opportunities to foster communities where none existed, develop and launch innovative programming and bridge generational, economic and racial divides.

Shannon has contributed to Women Grow Business and has been featured on the Digital Sisterhood Network and American Express OPEN Forum.

Llenda Jackson-Leslie
Senior Communications Associate

Llenda Jackson-Leslie is a senior communications professional skilled in speechwriting, project management, strategic planning, crisis communications, grassroots advocacy and media relations. She has worked on various McKinney projects, including the NAACP Stand for Freedom Voting Rights Campaign, the launch of RWJF's Health Policy Center at Meharry Medical College and Respect DC.

Llenda has served as director of Legislative Communications for the ACLU, as communications director for Michigan's largest trial court and as director of marketing and media relations for the Detroit Branch NAACP.

Nicole Hayes
Communications Associate

Nicole Hayes brings a strong background in consumer outreach, partnership development and media relations to McKinney & Associates. She has developed and implemented strategies and media relations outreach for large consumer and government clients.

With her skilled foundation, Nicole sought a career to support her core belief that people make the best investments and launched her own D.C.-based media relations consultancy, Pieces of Life, to serve small businesses and non-profit organizations. She is committed to the mission that drives McKinney and its clients. 


Phyllis Wilder
Operations Manager

Phyllis Wilder is responsible for managing and implementing the effective daily operations of McKinney & Associates. She assists Gwen in developing systems and processes to administer client services, marketing, personnel and finance.

Phyllis is a skilled administrator with more than 20 years of experience supporting managers and executives in a variety of industries, including Fleishman-Hillard's Global New Business Development team. A consummate self-starter and team player, she has a demonstrated ability to evaluate current business processes and systems and then plan and implement procedures to maximize operating efficiency.

Richard Montgomery
Art Director

Richard Montgomery directs the firm's conceptual design and development, including computer aided special effects and photo editing, website design, and collateral production. He works with the strategic planning team to assist in crafting the visual concepts for branding campaigns, corporate identity and logos, brochures, newsletters and Internet business development, communication signage and displays and full service printing.

His work with McKinney has included design and layout of a report marking the 40th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and design of the collateral for the documentary Unnatural Causes.

Vincent Hughes 
Graphic Designer  

Throughout his career, Vincent Hughes has focused his graphic design talents in the science and health fields for both the public and non-profit sector. As an art director for the USDA in the 1980’s, he serviced client agencies in the fields of research, extension, food and nutrition, and international development, while directing the department’s transition to electronic publishing.

Since leaving government service to work independently, his clients include international organizations and federal agencies, as well as NGOs that support health initiatives in developing countries. Other clients include Island Press and Congressional Quarterly’s CQ Press.

Joyce Taylor, MBA, MA
Human Resource Specialist

Joyce Taylor is with Swath Leadership, LLC and has provided Human Resources coaching, consulting and training services for more than ten years to McKinney & Associates. Her initiatives include strategic planning; employment, recruitment and selection; teambuilding; conflict resolution, diversity, performance management; and coaching services. Her consulting work has focused on fostering the cooperative efforts of employees in achieving organizational and individual goals. She has also worked extensively with diverse cultures and organizations throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Central America.

Ms. Taylor has been an Adjunct Graduate Professor in the Johns Hopkins University Cary School of Business since 1991. She teaches graduate level courses in Organization Development and Strategic Human Resources.

Carmel Ferrer
Senior Writer & Editor

Carmel Ferrer is a versatile writer, skilled editor and proofreader and a lifelong advocate for social justice and the arts. In addition to providing content and editorial expertise, she guides RFP responses for the firm and serves as a project manager for its clients.

Over her 20-year career, Carmel has delivered smart, persuasive genre-spanning content on behalf of organizations that include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the ACLU and American University’s Kogod School of Business. She brings a meticulous eye for detail, an unwavering commitment to clarity and a belief that the right words at the right time—presented in a way that commands attention and compels action—can move mountains.

Ron Simms Jr.
Digital Communications Specialist

Ron Simms Jr. works with McKinney's internal marketing and digital communications team, with a focus on enhancing the firm's digital presence. In addition, he is responsible for media relations for the firm's clients. This is Ron's second "tour of duty" with the McKinney & Associates team. From 2007-2008 he served as the firm's first public relations and new media coordinator, working on campaigns for the NAACP, Interfaith Worker Justice and ATU Local 689.

Ron has served as Director of Global Customer Communications for CA Advance, one of Japan's largest mobile games companies, and currently contributes two columns for women's lifestyle blog, M.I.S.S.

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