Individual Achievement Award Nominees


Agency Big Star of the Year - While the roles within the agencies are continually shifting at a rapid pace, not even the greatest technology can replace impeccable client service and strategic thinking. The Agency BIG Star will be someone that works in any capacity within an agency. This person is more than just smart or strategic, they handle their day to day business with clients, coworkers, and industry colleagues with enthusiasm and respect. They are that agency person that everyone loves to work with because of the way they handle themselves and what they bring to the table


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Lenny Karpel

Grey SF


"Lenny is a true strategic thinker and is always interested in learning and understanding how he can best help his clients and agency. Lenny has a sense of curiosity and is open to learning and understanding the ever-changing landscape that we all work in.


As an example of his going above and beyond his job duties: he had the idea to conduct a co-branded thought-leadership study looking at the impact that social cause videos have on brands. Should be an interesting read so please stay tuned there.


Lenny is also a pleasure to work with and treats his partners with kindness and respect."




Christine Bensen



"We all hope to work with colleagues that care passionately about the work, clients, and greater agency team. Christine Bensen, SVP Media Strategy at iCrossing, is one of those rare leaders who does just that and makes our agency what it is. While she is likely one of the more senior candidates nominated for this award, we believe the agency world is lacking the special combination of expertise, selflessness, energy and humor that Christine brings to iCrossing. We feel lucky to have her as a part of our team, and her Agency BIG Star of the Year nomination is in recognition of all that she accomplishes day-to-day. Here’s a look at just a few ways Christine delivers an impact on our clients and agency team:


“Ask Christine, she’ll know”:

• Just because someone has been in the business for years, it does not mean they possess the expertise to drive results. Christine strives to stay an expert in her field, always staying on the leading edge of media strategies that help connect our clients’ brands throughout the customer journey. More importantly, she has the uncanny ability to take complicated media, data and technology problems and deliver solutions that make sense to our clients. She’s a skilled translator that puts our clients at ease and ensures them we understand their business needs.


“Let’s do it better, together”:

• Christine is constantly looking for a better way to do things – no matter how long a certain process or thinking has been in place. Most recently she pushed iCrossing to re-look at how we deliver reporting dashboard solutions to our clients – making them more cost efficient for our clients, yet still profitable.

• Thinking outside of just “the work”, Christine helps make agency life a little more fun. Among many things, she co-leads iX Women SF where our mission is to: stay on the leading edge of our industry, further our careers together, and build a strong culture at iCrossing – through internal connections, community involvement, industry events. She always wins our bake-offs, and rallied everyone to liven up a much needed area of the office with our new group “wall art”.


“Clean up on aisle 6”:

• Let’s face it, there’s always going to be a glitch in the system from time to time and Christine is one of those partners who will throw down with the team to come up with solutions for issues when they occur. We all know we can turn to Christine, no matter the problem, for help in how best to not only resolve the issue, but ensure our clients know we have their backs.


“Getting out of our iCrossing bubble”:

• Even while leading our Planning team, Christine makes time to stay a part of the larger marketing community. She was most recently the keynote speaker for AAA’s Digital Summit, and will be leading a TedTalk style discussion on paid search during an upcoming Digital Summit in Palo Alto."




Patrick Fenton

Just Media, Inc


"Patrick Fenton is a dynamic professional who has moved up quickly in his career and is our candidate for Agency BIG Star of the Year. He is incredibly creative in his approach to strategic planning and is never afraid to test the boundaries with his clients. His career started at ZenithOptimedia where his work on HP won Mediaweek’s Digital Media plan of the Year. His love for strategic implementation lead him to more challenging senior roles at Universal McCann and Duncan/Channon where he streamlined processes within the organizations to regulate reconciliations. In the past 8 years, Patrick has quickly moved up to Media Director at Just Media where he immediately instituted multiple processes in a growing organization. In a fast-paced environment fueled by growth, Patrick’s energy, drive and creative approach to strategic planning has allowed him to excel quickly in his career. One of Patrick’s biggest achievements at Just Media was his approach to the demand generation marketplace trying to deploy greater controls of this media for our clients. Patrick quickly instituted a 40 question survey across multiple providers to understand how they were garnering leads for our clients. During this process, it was discovered that a large majority of these vendors were re-brokering unavailing a significant waste of client dollars. This allowed for greater controls to be added when booking media and Just Media is now deemed as a thought leader in this space. Additionally, these controls have offered better quality leads with greater efficiencies. Patrick is a media mentor to his team and actively participates in the company’s Just Care’s program dedicating his volunteer time off to community service for the Bay Area. With all that, he still finds time to be the company’s Master Brewer for “Just Ale”, a programmatic drinking platform that is distributed to all new client prospects."




Akil Gibbs



"Akil always goes above and beyond to be transparent on what he's working on, which is something that I rarely see. If he doesn't have a project that's a good fit, he'll clearly explain why. If he does catch wind of something that might be a good fit, he'll evangelize your product clearly to his team and explain why it should be included in their tactics. Additionally, he is always extremely respectful and overly nice in person. I've spent a lot of time with Akil at SFBig events, client events that I put together, and even outside of a work setting. He is always game for a meeting, coffee, happy hour, and/or bigger events such as concerts and sporting events. He also is really good at rallying his team for a big turnout."





Margot De La Pena

PMX Blue449


"Professional, super smart & an incredible programmatic prowess. Margot has consistently impressed all that she comes in contact with. She can juggle a hundred projects w a smile, troubleshoot and organize thousands of private marketplaces, and always has time to take a call and solve a problem w her partners. Margot is the epitome of cool under pressure, as she handles internal pressures, client management, and partner negotiations. Margot is all heart and genuinely approaches her work for the good of her clients. She has earned the respect off the entire Publicis organization as she excels in her every day management. She is exactly the kind of brilliant mind and open heart that every company strives to find." 



Celeste Passani

UM San Francisco


"Celeste Passani is the heart and soul of UM San Francisco where she has gracefully served for the last 7 ½ years. In her current role, Celeste is a VP Group Media Director who currently overseas integrated media planning for Fitbit, Ghirardelli and Truvia, but has also worked extensively on the Charles Schwab and Slack accounts – this gives her a huge range of credible experience that she leverages daily to drop knowledge. Regardless of the intensity of the day, you can always find Celeste with a smile on her face and her puppy Maggie on her lap.


While the Bay Area is rich with amazing native digital talent, Celeste’s ability to plan all media channels is truly unique. It’s why she has been called on to help with almost every major pitch in the office, most recently helping to defend Ghirardelli and win Fitibit. She is not only experienced in new business pitching, but also leading the transition and onboarding process. Don’t take it from me, here is a direct quote from someone on the leadership team – ‘The pitch queen – Celeste was instrumental in not only winning Fitbit – but now leding the team onboarding this massive business. She does it with grace, intelligence and an innovative thinking. We simply could not live without her.’


Celeste sets the bar very high for the product which UM San Francisco produces, including whip smart insight driven communications strategies that are backed up with state of the art media plans. She is an expert on UM’s proprietary tool set which she utilizes to wow clients with highly rigorous plans. Evidence of this is recalibrating media mixes for multiple clients from traditional to more digital and emerging media channels. She was the first person in the office to pilot addressable TV targeting a few years back working with multiple cable operators at once.


Her extremely credible media expertise is just one of the many reasons that Celeste is so highly respected by her peers and clients; however; it’s one thing to be great at your job, it’s another to inspire others to be great as well. Celeste is beloved by her teams as they love her genuine passion to helping them grow and succeed in their careers. It’s why she recently won UM San Francisco’s 2016 highly coveted rock star of the year award.


Celeste also play a big role in extracurricular activities. Celeste is a fellow of the IPG Media Lab, and a member of the UM Global Product Council, focused on driving innovation and delivering best in class resources across IPG agencies and clients. She currently leads a Mediabrands-wide digital training program, tasked with up-leveling digital strategic thinking throughout the network. She is on track to train almost 100 manager level employees this year.


On a more personal note, Celeste serves as the advisor to the UMSF Philanthropy committee. Several years ago, Celeste was selected to travel to Kenya to represent UMSF in our agency wide Free The Children partnership."