CHARLENE
WHEELESS

Meet CHarlene

Here's What Others Have to Say...

Here's What Others Have to Say...

Charlene is a remarkable and courageous leader. As the chair of Page, the world’s premier professional association for senior strategic communication leaders, she is helping Chief Communications Officers more effectively lead their organizations to create societal value, including social justice. Her compelling personal story shows how she has overcome numerous obstacles, always with grace, humility, and transparency, to become an even stronger and more effective leader and advocate.As a strategic communication leader herself in major global businesses, Charlene helped them strengthen their brands and reputations by improving diversity and using their influence to create value for the stakeholders and communities they served. She is a leader for our time, and Page is grateful for her determined and inspiring guidance.

Roger Bolton
President, Page

Here's What Others Have to Say...

Charlene is an excellent and effective communicator, and an equally engaging speaker.  During her ten years at Bechtel, Charlene had a significant impact. She helped us through numerous individual public relations and reputation challenges. She implemented a strategic approach and measurement process to strengthen Bechtel's standing with all stakeholders; spearheaded a successful program to attract students to careers in STEM through Bechtel's premier sponsorship of the IMAX film, "Dream Big: Engineering Our World" which has been viewed by more than 1 million people around the world. Charlene possesses the confidence to challenge the status quo and propose constructive alternative viewpoints and approaches to challenges. This is not always easy to do, but it is a trait that sets Charlene apart, and one from which Bechtel has benefited."

Executive Leadership

Here's What Others Have to Say...

Charlene did a brilliant job planning for and facilitating a courageous conversation on race for a group of business and medical leaders convened by our firm.  She prepared the panelists well, and brought out powerful stories and insights. She’s adept at covering potentially charged issues with sensitivity and grace, making everyone feel comfortable, even when covering uncomfortable topics."

Here's What Others Have to Say...

Charlene has been a tireless supporter of our community for more than a decade, leading numerous initiatives to support local businesses, youth education and the sustained development of this growing region. As Board Chair, Charlene shined a spotlight on the importance of building diversity, in all forms, and in all ways and she oversaw our strategic planning work. The Reston Chamber, and our community at large, is truly fortunate to benefit from Charlene's talents."

Here's What Others Have to Say...

Charlene combines business acumen and strategic thought to bring forward the best solutions to business challenges. I could always depend on Charlene to come up with a unique communication solution to a vexing business problem. She was a dynamic partner."

Paul V. Lombardi
CEO, DynCorp (Retired)

Here's What Others Have to Say...

Your talk was very meaningful to me.  I related to you as a mom, as a writer, and as a woman in Corporate America. I’m still processing all you had to say, Charlene. Some of what you had to say gave me a whole new perspective on Diversity, growth and overcoming difficulty with passion and perseverance. I’m inspired..

R. Hackney

MEET CHARLENE

Hi. I started my career in Corporate Communications straight out of college and never looked back. Working in a variety of industries, from associations, to information technology, to oil and gas, I honed my skills in every aspect of corporate and marketing communications and public affairs. I am a self-acknowledged nerd when it comes to technology and obsessed when it comes to integrating technology, communications, and creativity to develop outcomes that have yet to be discovered. I thrive in fast-paced environments that are uncomfortable with the status quo. Issues management, crisis communications, justice and equity counsel, data and digital analytics, and problem solving are what gets me out of bed every day -- that and my two dogs. Grace under pressure (as I've been told), I've never met a crisis I didn't want to jump into or a stray dog I didn't want to save. Professionally speaking, I am a trusted advisor to the C-suite, and a proven executive.

I am also a mother of two adult children, whom I adore, and wife to Greg, a finance executive. I started this company because I have a passion for helping leaders navigate and solve their toughest business challenges.

I believe in hard work, I believe in people, I believe in the greater good of business to provide social change and societal value, an equal and just society and capitalism. This is my purpose to fulfill. Time is finite. Make it count.

CHARLENE WHEELESS

RESILIENT. AUTHENTIC. UNSHAKEABLE.

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Unapologetic Authenticity Blog >

Does Your Reality Match Your Rhetoric?
January 29, 2021

When I speak to employees from companies whose leaders took a firm stand last summer, I also hear that a strange thing is happening inside those companies – nothing.

Waiting to Exhale
January 20, 2021

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for nearly two months. When I first wrote it, I was filled with optimism and ready to declare some semblance of a victory. But deep in my subconscious, I knew it wasn’t time to even hint at success, and I wasn’t sure optimism was warranted, either.

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Since the seditious insurrection incited by the president last week, I’ve had two things on my mind. First, as a Black American, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as the insurrectionists scaled the walls of the Capitol, broke through its windows and doors and disrupted a sacred Constitutional process. My first thought was, if I had done that, I would have been shot dead on the spot. I asked myself, and I ask you now: Would these events have unfolded differently had the horde been Black?

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I’ve been doing well—getting back into the swing of things and feeling really good, if not great. But alas, sometimes three steps forward comes with two steps back.

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My husband and I have had this “thing” for the past several years about renewing our vows. It started as we approached our 20-year anniversary. I suggested that we renew our vows. His response was swift and definitive and went something like: “No, I did it once and I don’t need to do it again. Besides, you only want to do it so you can have a big party and be the center of attention.”

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Followers, today I am pleased to introduce you to our first guest blogger, Melissa Fleming. Melissa is currently the head of Communications and chief spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She leads global media outreach and campaigns, and operates multi-media news and feature service. From October 2016 to April 2017, she served as Senior Advisor to UN Secretary-General António Guterres on his Transition Team. Melissa is also a celebrated author, advocate, and public speaker.

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When I was in college and later in my early 20s, our girl posse would get together, sit around in cute pajamas or Juicy Couture tracksuits, drinking cheap wine, munching on nachos, and playing one of two games – the utterly silly “Have You Ever?” or the more intriguing game “What’s Your Number?”

#214 New Attitude or New Day?
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In each of the pictures below, except one, I’m wearing a different wig. The “one” where I’m not (in case it isn’t obvious) is when my fur baby, Chivas, decided to get in the wig game.. 🙂

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People have frequently asked me how I decided to have a double mastectomy vs. a lumpectomy or to have the diseased breast removed. It wasn’t an easy decision for me, but it was a quick one, and once I made it, I never looked back.

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For me, when I sat in the chair to start my first chemotherapy infusion was when my cancer felt very real. Something about knowing that poison would be pumped through my system for several hours was really unsettling, as I imagine it would be for anyone.

Text Link
This is some text inside of a div block.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Does Your Reality Match Your Rhetoric?
January 29, 2021

When I speak to employees from companies whose leaders took a firm stand last summer, I also hear that a strange thing is happening inside those companies – nothing.

Waiting to Exhale
January 20, 2021

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for nearly two months. When I first wrote it, I was filled with optimism and ready to declare some semblance of a victory. But deep in my subconscious, I knew it wasn’t time to even hint at success, and I wasn’t sure optimism was warranted, either.

Rebuilding together after the insurrection
January 15, 2021

Since the seditious insurrection incited by the president last week, I’ve had two things on my mind. First, as a Black American, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as the insurrectionists scaled the walls of the Capitol, broke through its windows and doors and disrupted a sacred Constitutional process. My first thought was, if I had done that, I would have been shot dead on the spot. I asked myself, and I ask you now: Would these events have unfolded differently had the horde been Black?

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December 21, 2020

Authored by Charlene Wheeless, senior advisor for equity and justice at APCO Worldwide and Barie Carmichael, senior counselor at APCO Worldwide

Half and Half, Pt. 3
October 8, 2020

“In my adult life, I have approached most things from an intellectual perspective."

Half and Half, Part 2
October 6, 2020

"During times like these, being biracial holds a strange power."

Half and Half, Part 1
September 7, 2020

“Growing up, being biracial wasn't "a thing." That didn't start until college.

Half-and-Half
September 6, 2020

What the Current Racial Injustice Movement Means to a Mixed-Race Family

When Will America Love Us Back?
August 31, 2020

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Don't Stop Now
June 3, 2020

This time, I’m not the one who is sick. Our country is. 

Just Between Us Girls
August 30, 2018

Is Cancer a Journey or a Destination?

#205 I Knew I Hit Rock Bottom When I Bought a Mink Coat
August 21, 2018

I’m depressed. I’ve been dealing with depression most of my life, so I know it when I see it. My mom had it and so did her mother. I have some pretty good coping mechanisms, but they aren’t working this time.

#206 The Spontaneous Combustion of My Breast
August 20, 2018

I’ve been doing well—getting back into the swing of things and feeling really good, if not great. But alas, sometimes three steps forward comes with two steps back.

#208 -- The Rest of the Story -- Spontaneous Combustion
August 18, 2018

Note: If you haven’t read the first part of Spontaneous Combustion, this post won’t make sense to you. Take a look at that one and then come back here!

#209 I Do -- Take Two?
August 17, 2018

My husband and I have had this “thing” for the past several years about renewing our vows. It started as we approached our 20-year anniversary. I suggested that we renew our vows. His response was swift and definitive and went something like: “No, I did it once and I don’t need to do it again. Besides, you only want to do it so you can have a big party and be the center of attention.”

Guest Blogger: How I overcame cancer and learned to be the director of my own life
August 16, 2018

Followers, today I am pleased to introduce you to our first guest blogger, Melissa Fleming. Melissa is currently the head of Communications and chief spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She leads global media outreach and campaigns, and operates multi-media news and feature service. From October 2016 to April 2017, she served as Senior Advisor to UN Secretary-General António Guterres on his Transition Team. Melissa is also a celebrated author, advocate, and public speaker.

Guest Blogger -- Are There Bombs Strapped to My Chest?
August 15, 2018

“It’s not that I don’t love my breasts, I guess I just love me more.”

#210 -- Am I A Survivor?
August 14, 2018

I’ve always known I was a fighter, but a survivor? Not so much. My mother; now she was a survivor. She fled a 20-year abusive marriage with nothing but a high school education and four kids in tow, the youngest being 7 (me), and she created the best life she could. That’s what I call a survivor. I’m sure without her will to survive, my life would have gone in a very different direction.

#211 Cancer Resources
August 13, 2018

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to share some resources that have helped me on and off through my journey in understanding what was happening to me, but also giving me different perspectives. I share these with you in hopes they may also be helpful to you. Please feel free to share any additional resources you think I should add to this list. Thank you!

#212 It's Complicated
August 13, 2018

Life is complicated. That’s not a revelation, but sometimes we forget. Life is complicated. For everyone.

#213 What's Your Number?
August 12, 2018

When I was in college and later in my early 20s, our girl posse would get together, sit around in cute pajamas or Juicy Couture tracksuits, drinking cheap wine, munching on nachos, and playing one of two games – the utterly silly “Have You Ever?” or the more intriguing game “What’s Your Number?”

#214 New Attitude or New Day?
August 12, 2018

In 1984, Disco Diva Patti LaBelle released a song called “New Attitude.” I can’t remember the lyrics, but if I close my eyes and think about it, I am quickly transported back to the mid-'80s when I taught aerobics.

#216 Guest Blogger: What Not to Say to a Cancer Patient
August 11, 2018

“WHEN VISITING A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER WHO IS SICK, IT’S GOOD TO LEAVE PLATITUDES AT THE DOOR.”

#217 Dragging My Feet
August 10, 2018

I’ve been writing this blog post for months–many months. I think my last post was in May. This is unusual for me. It generally takes me an hour to write a post, another hour to marinade on it and then about 30 minutes to post it.

#218 Just One More Slice?
August 9, 2018

I had another surgery in January—four weeks ago in fact. I’ve now lost count of how many re-revisions of breast reconstruction I’ve had. I wonder how many surgeries you can have before the rest of your body breaks down.

#101 Wigging Out
August 22, 2017

In each of the pictures below, except one, I’m wearing a different wig. The “one” where I’m not (in case it isn’t obvious) is when my fur baby, Chivas, decided to get in the wig game.. 🙂

#102 Lumpy, Flat, or Lopsided -- How Do You Decide?
August 20, 2017

People have frequently asked me how I decided to have a double mastectomy vs. a lumpectomy or to have the diseased breast removed. It wasn’t an easy decision for me, but it was a quick one, and once I made it, I never looked back.

#103 Chemo. Chemo. Chemotherapy
August 18, 2017

For me, when I sat in the chair to start my first chemotherapy infusion was when my cancer felt very real. Something about knowing that poison would be pumped through my system for several hours was really unsettling, as I imagine it would be for anyone.

Unapologetic Authenticity Blog >

Does Your Reality Match Your Rhetoric?
January 29, 2021

When I speak to employees from companies whose leaders took a firm stand last summer, I also hear that a strange thing is happening inside those companies – nothing.

Text Link
This is some text inside of a div block.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Does Your Reality Match Your Rhetoric?
January 29, 2021

When I speak to employees from companies whose leaders took a firm stand last summer, I also hear that a strange thing is happening inside those companies – nothing.

Waiting to Exhale
January 20, 2021

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for nearly two months. When I first wrote it, I was filled with optimism and ready to declare some semblance of a victory. But deep in my subconscious, I knew it wasn’t time to even hint at success, and I wasn’t sure optimism was warranted, either.

Rebuilding together after the insurrection
January 15, 2021

Since the seditious insurrection incited by the president last week, I’ve had two things on my mind. First, as a Black American, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as the insurrectionists scaled the walls of the Capitol, broke through its windows and doors and disrupted a sacred Constitutional process. My first thought was, if I had done that, I would have been shot dead on the spot. I asked myself, and I ask you now: Would these events have unfolded differently had the horde been Black?

COVID-19 in 2021: Is Your Company Ready?
December 21, 2020

Authored by Charlene Wheeless, senior advisor for equity and justice at APCO Worldwide and Barie Carmichael, senior counselor at APCO Worldwide

Half and Half, Pt. 3
October 8, 2020

“In my adult life, I have approached most things from an intellectual perspective."

Half and Half, Part 2
October 6, 2020

"During times like these, being biracial holds a strange power."

Half and Half, Part 1
September 7, 2020

“Growing up, being biracial wasn't "a thing." That didn't start until college.

Half-and-Half
September 6, 2020

What the Current Racial Injustice Movement Means to a Mixed-Race Family

When Will America Love Us Back?
August 31, 2020

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Don't Stop Now
June 3, 2020

This time, I’m not the one who is sick. Our country is. 

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