Jon Onoda, 2011 Corporate Honoree

Jon Onoda, Corporate

John Onoda, who has held chief communications positions for The Charles Schwab Corp., Visa USA, General Motors, and Levi Strauss & Co., has been a strong advocate, practitioner and advisor of strategic communications for most of his long career. He joined Gagen MacDonald as a senior corporate counselor and will help advise the firm’s clients on corporate character, culture and business transformation.

During his more than 30 years in the business, John has overseen all facets of communications, including reputation and crisis management, thought leadership, media relations, brand communications, corporate social responsibility, and employee and executive communications for some of the world’s leading corporate brands. He has provided expert counsel to clients in the technology, defense, energy, retail, biotech, communications, life sciences, financial services, healthcare and automotive industries.

While chief communications officer at Charles Schwab, John directed all the company’s communications around the 9/11 upheaval in the financial services sector. As executive vice president for corporate relations at Visa USA, he oversaw communications at a time when online commerce and the debit card were reshaping the credit card business model. He led global communications and chaired the communications strategy council while at General Motors. When John was vice president of corporate communications for Levi Strauss & Co., he was credited for creating a communications organization widely recognized as one of the most outstanding in corporate America. He also has held communications positions at McDonald’s Corp., Holiday Corp., and Mitchell Energy & Development Corp.

Throughout his career, John has earned a strong reputation for his coaching and mentoring skills, working with both individuals and corporate staffs to accelerate their professional development, work more efficiently and gain influence within their organizations. His efforts were recognized by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, who awarded him its Milestones in Mentoring Corporate Award in 2011. Additional achievements include receiving the Distinguished Service Award from the Arthur W. Page Society and induction into PRWeek’s Hall of Fame.

John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from the University of Michigan, a Juris Doctorate degree from Indiana University, and a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has served as a board member of the Arthur W. Page Society, Business for Social Responsibility, the International Association of Business Communicators Foundation and the Bay Area United Way. He is on the board of councilors of The U.S.-Japan Council.

John currently resides with his wife Teresa, a professional artist and town councilperson, in Moraga, California.

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.