About the Conversation
The Conversation was sparked when friends Kathleen Henson, founder and CEO of PR powerhouse Agency H5 and Tarrah Cooper, former Press Secretary for Mayor Emanuel and Partner of Rise Strategy Group, a strategic communications firm, invited an eclectic mix of impactful women to meet over a meal and connect on business, philanthropy and their personal passions.
They soon discovered that many common denominators existed among these exceptional women, and that the events were generating substantial opportunities and connections. Businesses were stimulated, jobs had been created and strong friendships were established. Through The Conversation, an incredible forum was born.
SINCE ITS INCEPTION IN AUGUST 2013, NEARLY 200 UNIQUE WOMEN HAVE ATTENDED THE CONVERSATION. And there's still so much left to talk about...join us!
Who We Are
Kathleen is the founder and CEO of Agency H5, an award-winning boutique PR agency headquartered in Chicago. For more than two decades, Kathleen Henson has enjoyed a diverse career in public relations and communications, working with some of the most iconic and well-known companies and brands in the U.S. and abroad.
With unequaled energy, charisma and drive, Kathleen expertly and instinctually connects people, events and ideas to create big media moments that generate impactful, lasting buzz. She is constantly and organically growing her infinite, personal arsenal of contacts — which reaches deep into America’s top newsrooms all the way to Hollywood’s elite — to creatively tell her clients’ stories.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Purdue University and former agency senior vice president at Edelman, Kathleen has worked in public relations and marketing with some of the country’s most recognizable companies and brands. She started Agency H5 in 2001 to reinvent the modern agency and provide clients with strategic counsel, unparalleled creativity and tangible results.
As an agency, H5 offers a broad range of consumer marketing and corporate communications support to a wide variety of international, national and Midwest-based clients. Over the years, the firm has worked with blue chip clients including Kraft Foods, The Pampered Chef, Sears, Roebuck and Co., International Housewares Association, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Hard Rock Hotels, Ronald McDonald House Charities, The Chicago White Sox, Potbelly Sandwich Works, AMLI Residential, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and Allstate, among more than 100 others.
Giving back is one of Kathleen’s personal passions and she volunteers her time to a number of important causes in Chicago. Her activities include serving for the past four years as co-chair of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago’s Women’s Leadership Council, on the Board of Directors of Breakthrough Urban Ministries and is an active member of the prestigious Women’s Board of the Joffrey Ballet where she’s co-chaired the fall fundraiser since 2013. For Kathleen, The Conversation is an ideal environment to create growth, change and action.
Tarrah is a Partner of Rise Strategy Group, where she works with clients to harness the potential of social and electronic media for business development, reputation management, and crisis communications. Formerly, Cooper was the Managing Director at Mercury, a leading global, bipartisan public strategy firm, where she was responsible for the business development and strategic communications at the firm’s new Chicago office.
Prior to joining Mercury, Tarrah was the Press Secretary for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Tarrah, a Chicago native, began working with Rahm Emanuel in 2010 as the Deputy Press Secretary of his Mayoral campaign where she served as a primary spokesperson and helped to craft, manage and communicate his strategic vision and priorities for Chicago during a pivotal time in the city. As the Mayor’s day-to-day spokesperson, Tarrah executed the communications strategy as the Mayor worked tirelessly to keep Chicago’s communities safe, improve the quality of education for all children, create jobs and secure Chicago’s future as a global capital. She was also responsible for the message development of major events such as the NATO Chicago Summit, the National Football League (NFL) Draft, Chicago Gourmet Food and Wine Festival and the James Beard Awards.
Before returning to Chicago, Tarrah worked in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., where she helped to manage the Department’s messaging, priorities and actions for numerous national incidents including the H1N1 epidemic, the December 25th and Times Square attempted bombings, the Haitian earthquake and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Prior to that, Tarrah worked on the Obama-Biden Presidential Campaign in Florida, a state that played a vital role in President Obama’s victory in the election. There she recruited, trained and managed community leaders and volunteers who actively worked to mobilize the community and increase voter contact. Tarrah was also responsible for the execution of numerous community events which successfully enhanced the campaign’s visibility and community involvement throughout the region.
Tarrah began her career as a general assignment reporter at KOMU-NBC 8 in Columbia, Missouri. She graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in Journalism.
Tarrah is a lifelong Chicago Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs and Sox fan, avid theater goer and loves to walk, run, bike and swim at the lake. Her favorite thing about the city is the charm, character and compassion of Chicagoans and she most enjoys tutoring children at Breakthrough Urban Ministries in East Garfield Park.