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Kathleen Sarpy

Kathleen Sarpy Headshot

BA 1992, Communication, Brian Lamb School of Communication

Founder and CEO, Agency H5
Chicago, IL

Kathleen Sarpy, Founder & CEO, Agency H5 For 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 also serving as a driving force behind emerging start-ups and charities. 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 nearly 22 years later, Kathleen manages a talented team of professionals that support dozens of global, national and Chicago-based clients in the CPG, hospitality, tech, 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 for its campaigns and culture. H5 ranked #11 among Top Company Culture’s in America by 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). Believing that life teaches you lessons that must be shared to inspire and empower others, she frequently contributes to a variety of news outlets 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. Beyond her professional commitments, Kathleen finds deep value in giving back through mentorship and empowering future generations of female leaders. She also proudly supports 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 23-13. She resides in Wheaton, Illinois with her husband Chris and a lively household of kids and one uncooperative English Bulldog named Hope