Jack Leslie
Jack Leslie

Jack Leslie plans to retire as Weber Shandwick's chairman at the end of March after a 45-year career in public affairs and corporate communications, which included stints as political director for Sen. Ted Kennedy and president of the legendary Sawyer Miller Group.

He will continue to advise Weber Shandwick and clients on corporate reputation, public policy and social impact matters after stepping down as chairman.

Leslie became chairman, and Harris Diamond took on the CEO role at Weber Shandwick in 2001, with its merger Bozell Sawyer Miller Group.

"The story of Weber Shandwick's journey to becoming the powerhouse it is today could not have been written without Jack Leslie," said Andy Polansky, ex-Weber Shandwick CEO and current IPG DXTRA chief. "Jack's incredible foresight and fortitude to stay ahead of the market and to anticipate client needs pushed our firm time and time again in the right direction."

At Sawyer Miller, Leslie ran presidential and statewide campaigns in the US, Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Gail Heimann, Weber Shandwick CEO, credits Leslie's leadership and influence in helping to form "an organization that not only solves complex challenges for a diverse mix of clients, but one that delivers with purpose and a passion for doing well by doing good."

Leslie is a longtime activist for humanitarian assistance, international development and global health issues.

He chaired the USA for UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) during the 1990s and was appointed by president Obama as chair of the US African Development Foundation, where Leslie led missions to 25 African countries.