Women to Watch 2009

Danya Proud

Senior Manager-Communications, McDonald's USA

By Published on .

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Danya Proud, senior manager-communications, McDonald's USA, had a busier-than-average spring. The public-relations executive, who co-heads U.S. media relations for the fast feeder, was also tapped to co-lead the chain's long-awaited McCafe rollout. The initial campaign, estimated at $100 million, involved coordinating the chain's many regional and national advertising and marketing agencies, as well as its considerable PR army.

Danya Proud

What's next? "I'll go back to my real job," she said, which includes managing day-to-day domestic media relations at one of the world's most recognizable brands. She's also charged with shepherding McDonald's franchisees (known as owner operators) through media training, and coordinating press opportunities and talking points.

Ms. Proud, 31, said her interest lies at the heart of the McDonald's business. She said hopes to stay at McDonald's and get to know the business better, to understand what drives it and the consumer need that makes it possible. "Being part of those discussions are of great interest to me, and then taking that insight and putting it into language that makes sense externally," she said.

Ms. Proud came to the U.S. via Orlando in 1999. The Brit was making her first stateside trip as a 21st-birthday celebration. Like many a recent college grad, she ran out of money and called home to plead for more. When her father turned her down, Ms. Proud started looking for project work in PR. She'd already worked in sports, alcohol and events.

She got a job with Coleman Booker Reese, which pitched the local McDonald's cooperative account in 2003. A year later, McDonald's longtime national PR partner, GolinHarris, hired her for its Chicago office. McDonald's opened its U.S. media-relations department in late 2004 and tapped her to join in the initial team. She was officially hired in 2006 and promoted to senior manager-media relations in 2007. By the end of 2008, she was managing all media relations for McDonald's USA. Ms. Proud also sits on the board of the Suzuki-Orff School of Music.

"It's been exciting to watch Danya move and advance through her career over the past few years," said Gary Rudnick, executive VP-regional managing director, GolinHarris. "When she first moved to Chicago, she worked at GolinHarris as a devoted McDonald's account member, and it was immediately clear during those early days that her tenacity and talent was unremitting."

Ms. Proud said she "loves" Chicago and doesn't plan to return to England anytime soon. Does her father regret not sending the money now? "Probably," Ms. Proud said.

"I love to travel, and I do definitely see myself with McDonald's for the long term," she said. "And where that takes me? I'm open to those ideas and opportunities."

Most Popular