Howard Paster, 2011 Agency Honoree

Howard Paster, Agency (Posthumously)

Howard George Paster was Executive Vice President, Public Relations/Public Affairs at WPP Group, and was the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hill & Knowlton, Inc., a WPP company. Paster served on the Board of WPP for three years, resigning in 2006.

Prior to joining Hill & Knowlton in 1994, he served as assistant to President Bill Clinton and director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. He is a member of the board of trustees of Tuskegee University, President of the Little League Foundation, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Co-Chair of the Council on American Politics at George Washington University.

Early in his career, he worked on the staffs of Senator Birch Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, and Representative Lester Wolff, Democrat of New York.

He became the chief Washington lobbyist for the United Automobile Workers in the late 1970s and played a leading role in negotiating the loan bailout of the Chrysler Corporation. His performance impressed the negotiators on the other side of the table, lobbyists from Timmons & Company. Timmons hired him away at the end of the talks.

In a dozen years at Timmons, Mr. Paster represented Eastern Airlines and Major League Baseball, among other clients. He helped the oil industry by softening some provisions of the 1991 Clean Air Act. In August 1992, he moved to Hill & Knowlton, becoming its chairman of public affairs and general manager of its Washington office. His contract included a clause that he would be free to leave if offered a job in the Clinton administration.

Michael Berman, a longtime friend of Mr. Paster’s and an important figure in the Clinton campaign, brought Mr. Paster to the attention of the Clinton team, according to The Washington Post. His many friends in the Senate and the House, particularly Representative John D. Dingell, the powerful Michigan Democrat, endorsed him.

In 1994, Mr. Paster returned to Hill & Knowlton as its chief, promising to excuse himself from business that involved lobbying with Washington, although lobbyists worked for him. A directive by Mr. Clinton barred him from lobbying the White House for five years.

In 2002, Mr. Paster was promoted to executive vice president of the WPP Group, Hill & Knowlton’s parent, which operates in 107 countries and has 146,000 employees. He was also the president of the Little League Foundation, which raises money for youth baseball.

Mr. Paster was married to the former Gail Kern, the emeritus director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington; and had two children, Emily and Timothy Paster; and four grandchildren.

Research

Leaders exert significant influence on the success, future and image of their profession. Yet, only a few PR studies have explored this important topic.

One goal of the Plank Center is to build a research-based foundation of knowledge regarding the values, qualities and dimensions of excellent leadership, mentorship and diversity and inclusion in PR.