Kathleen Sarpy

Founder and CEO, Agency H5

For more than 25 years, Kathleen Kenehan Sarpy has enjoyed a diverse career in public relations and marketing, working with the world’s most recognizable brands, as well as driven start-ups and non-profits. With unrivaled energy and enthusiasm, Kathleen expertly connects people, events, and ideas to generate a meaningful and lasting impact.

A former senior leader at the world’s leading PR firm, Kathleen left “big agency” life behind in January 2001 after the birth of her first child to launch her own shop alone in her suburban basement. Her goal: Offer world-class strategy and creativity to the world’s most respected companies by eliminating bureaucracy and without ever sacrificing kindness. Nearly 20 years later, Kathleen manages more than 40 staffers in a vibrant downtown office overlooking the Chicago river, and she’s never lost sight of her five core values that remain the cornerstone of her business: kindness, creativity, passion, hustle, and integrity.

Agency H5 has been recognized alongside the best firms in the country, winning National Small Agency of the Year and Best Place to Work by PR News multiple times. Her value-driven agency 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 both in 2018 and 2019. Personally, Kathleen has been named PR Professional of the Year by PRSA Chicago and nationally among Top Women in PR by PR News. She’s regularly featured as an expert voice on outlets like NBC (including “Today”), CBS Chicago, PR News and PR Week. Believing that life teaches you lessons that must be shared to inspire and empower others, she frequently contributes to’s BETTER platform on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to motherhood. A fierce advocate for kindness in the workplace, she also has contributed to several books on the topic including Kindness in Leadership (Gay Haskins, 2018), Chicago Lights (Abigail Zoe Martin, 2018) and the upcoming Culture Stories from Inspiring Leaders (Greg Besner, 2020).

Leading with kindness beyond office walls as well, Kathleen proudly supports philanthropies including Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Enchanted Backpack, the Joffrey Ballet’s Women’s Board, and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago’s Women’s Leadership Council. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Purdue University, she founded the International Council of Purdue Women in 2017 to engage and inspire 200,000 alumnae worldwide.

However, her biggest and proudest achievement to date is being a wife and mother of six incredible children ages 19-10. She resides in Wheaton, Illinois with her husband Chris, a bustling household of kids, and an uncooperative English Bulldog named Hope.