Julie Schaefer

Owner, Founder – Winning Presence®

Julie Schaefer is owner, founder and Chief Advisor of Winning Presence®, which helps companies drive performance through leadership communications. Schaefer is a seasoned, strategic communications consultant for c-suites and management communications teams around the world. Schaefer aims to help her clients achieve results through communications by designing communications plans that support and advance their company mission, vision, values and plans. She also helps leaders tap into their personal brands and advance their own winning presence.

Prior to launching Winning Presence®, Schaefer was Director of Management Communications at McDonald’s Corporation. From 1999-2006, she served as primary communications counsel and speechwriter for three CEO clients, the President of McDonald’s Europe, and the company’s COO. She was responsible for a team of professionals, who wrote for and counseled other company executives. The team also designed internal communications plans to align employees, suppliers, and franchisees around the business plan to drive performance. Schaefer also led the company’s Global Communications Council, a team that was responsible for creating global brand programs for the company and managing global brand-threatening issues.

Schaefer is a cross-trained, Corporate Relations professional. Prior to her management communications role, she served as Senior Manager, Public and Community Affairs at McDonald’s Corporation. This department was created to take a long view on issues management and build relationships with influencers. In this capacity, she represented the company with trade associations, NGOs, community leaders and elected officials. She held this post for two years and, prior, served as a company spokesperson. In media relations, she provided business, financial, and brand-related information to global press to gain positive, balanced coverage of the company. Schaefer also designed and launched a media and crisis management training program, and had responsibility for crisis and issues management. Schaefer joined McDonald’s Corporation in 1991.

Schaefer also dedicates her time to advancing the communications profession. She regularly mentors young professionals and students aspiring for careers in communications. She blogs about current industry topics, and has been a guest speaker in programs that help professionals develop their executive or leadership presence. She participated in custom education programs for University of Chicago Booth School of Management. Schaefer served three terms on the Chicago Board of Directors for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and co-led the chapter’s programming efforts. She also led a committee that helped communications professionals obtain professional accreditation. Schaefer became part of the organization’s prestigious Counselor’s Academy in 2010 and was a member of PRSA from 1994-2016.

Schaefer received her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Speech Communication from the University of Illinois in 1991. She earned her accreditation in Public Relations in 2001. Schaefer has completed many professional development classes and programs, including “Dealing with an Angry Public” at Harvard University in 1996, which convened communications and legal professionals to study crisis and issues management. Schaefer was also a contributing writer to Executive Travel Magazine.

Schaefer and Winning Presence® support charities that help children and families in need, including Ronald McDonald House Charities, #BetterEveryday, Northern Illinois Food Bank, and The Super Jake Foundation.

Schaefer resides outside of Chicago, Illinois with her husband, Pete and their two children. She likes travel, world politics, good speeches, and spending time with her family.

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