Gretchen Wahl

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SVP Public Engagement

Gretchen Wahl believes people who engage with communities must meet others with endless curiosity about their lives, dreams and goals. As Purpose Brand’s SVP of public engagement, Gretchen’s ability to bring everyone’s interests and purpose to the table results in stronger projects and more vibrant communities.

Gretchen is an experienced public engagement, internal communications and journalism professional. She works with leaders to clarify their goals, understand their audiences and craft messages and communications strategies to help them achieve their objectives. Gretchen is especially skilled at distilling complicated information to facilitate conversations between technical experts and the public.

Working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Gretchen led the public involvement process for environmental assessments at O’Hare International Airport, including planning, publicizing and leading large community workshops; soliciting and responding to public comments; and preparing and distributing technical documents. Her other clients have included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the U.S. Department of Energy; the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Army; the Tennessee Valley Authority; the Illinois Department of Transportation; state and local governments; businesses; and nonprofit organizations.

After earning an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Gretchen began her career writing owner’s manuals for Zenith products, adding precision and clarity to her verbal style. She led civic engagement activities on environmental cleanups from Tennessee to Alaska, and worked on infrastructure projects that touch every neighborhood in Chicago. Gretchen managed corporate safety and security communications for the Jacobs global engineering and construction firm, supporting Safety Week celebrations from dance performances in Mumbai to forklift rodeos in Texas.

As a journalist, Gretchen wrote about architecture, design, retail and travel for publications including Chicago magazine, Crain’s Chicago Business, Elle Décor, Frequent Flyer and InStyle. She loves to travel, and her favorite places are Havana and northern New Mexico.

Passionate about

  • Walking in Graceland Cemetery
  • Open water swimming in Lake Michigan and biking across Iowa
  • Safety and risk reduction
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