As the first female president in Fahlgren Mortine’s 60-year history, Marty Hatfield McDonald’s legacy continues to be written one day at a time. After graduating with a B.A. in Organizational Communications in 2000, she started at Fahlgren Mortine, the agency she would continue to call her professional home decades later.
“It feels inspiring. I’m one of the few who’s gotten to say that they’ve spent 22 years at the same place,” said McDonald. “I think we have an incredible team of people; it feels really good to work on their behalf every day. It’s a good place to be.”
Before being promoted to president on Sept. 1, McDonald held several roles with the company, including executive vice president, B2C leader, chair of executive and operations committees, and executive sponsor for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.
Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Fahlgren Mortine is the largest integrated communications company in Ohio and a top 25 firm nationally, with more than 200 associates in seven locations throughout the U.S.
“I want to keep building on the path we’re on and add some new energy to it. I always feel like the things that exist in our culture are a shadow of our leader,” said McDonald. “Neil [Mortine] often says if we find the best people, we will attract the best clients and do the best work. The kind of work we do is people-based. Our revenue stream is about the counsel and partnership that we give to our clients and the guidance we can provide.”
From the dedicated classroom space in the Convergent Media Center to the senior capstone course, Fahlgren Mortine’s strong bond with Capital can be felt across campus.
“We love feeling the energy of students and getting to feel like we’re shaping minds. It also helps us understand our workforce and what’s about to come our way. We come on campus anytime we can,” said McDonald.
As a proud Capital alumna, McDonald’s connection to the CapFam goes beyond her job.
“I grew up in a rural part of Ohio and I wasn’t ready for a big university. I liked having familiar faces when I walked through the hallways and being able to develop my own understanding of the world and how it operated,” said McDonald. “At Capital, I got to do so many things. The world started to open up for me, and I saw how connected everything was. It was just a great place for me to find my confidence, to find my voice.”
During her time as a student, McDonald felt empowered to truly explore who she wanted to be.
“I played sports in undergrad, but I was terrible at it. I didn’t last very long at any sport, but I got to try them all and realized how bad I was. I had permission to try and figure myself out. I did a lot of work to figure out who I was, who I wasn’t, what I wanted to do, what I didn’t have the discipline for, and what I wasn’t willing to do,” said McDonald. “I think Capital was an extension of me trying to figure out not just some of the fundamentals, but what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
McDonald has transitioned from college student to corporate president with the grace of a true leader.
Throughout her career, she has received numerous accolades within the public relations community, including: Columbus CEO Future 50 (2021); SmartBusiness Smart 50 (2021); Bulldog Stars of PR Honoree (2017); Top Woman in PR by PRNews (2014); Outstanding Young Professional by PRWEEK Magazine (2003); and a Bizjournals Forty Under 40 honoree in two cities.
“It took me a really long time to figure out how to build the stepping stones in my career. You put so much pressure on yourself to know the playbook, the one right way to do everything. I made a bunch of mistakes. You have to give yourself permission to try and fail, just stay busy in pursuit,” said McDonald.
“There’s no perfect way. Don’t let anybody tell you that there is. There’s a million right ways. That’s how I try to view my leadership style. I don’t think it’s one perfect plan. I think the daily decisions add up to progress.”
To learn more about Fahlgren Mortine, visit https://www.fahlgrenmortine.com/.