Author Archives Anne Gideon

MAHF names Risa Bernstein, Maris Schilling and Ronald Souza 2021 Inductees

December 12, 2020

December 14, 2020 — The membership of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame (MAHF) has elected its 2021 inductees: Maris Schilling, associate creative director at Kallir Phillips Ross and co-founder of Reagent; Risa Bernstein, co-founder and leader of Accel Healthcare and Flashpoint Medica; and Ronald Souza, president/COO of Rolf Werner Rosenthal and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather’s medical division.

“It’s an exciting time for our industry and the MAHF. Besides inducting Ron this year, for the second time, we are inducting two women, Risa and Maris. What was once considered groundbreaking is now becoming the norm. I cannot tell you how proud I am to be part of it”, said Steven Michaelson, MAHF Chairperson and Founder/CEO of Calcium.

Risa Bernstein began her medical advertising career at Gross Townsend Frank Hoffman, rising from assistant account executive to managing director over the course of a decade. She put her renowned team-building skills to the ultimate test in the years that followed, co-founding Accel Healthcare (and serving as one of the primary architects of the merger that created Corbett Accel) and, later, Flashpoint Medica. Later in her career, she became one of the agency world’s most trusted and respected senior advisors, helping guide FCB Health as executive director and Calcium as executive director of strategy. Over the course of her career, she worked on a range of A-list brands, ranging from Avastin and Herceptin to Rituxin and Klonopin Wafer. Her client roster included Roche, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, GSK, Procter & Gamble, and CooperVision.

Maris Schilling entered the industry as a secretary at Klemtner Advertising. Before long, her talent with words and strategy landed her a junior copywriter role at William Douglas McAdams and, shortly thereafter, a job as copy supervisor at Lavey/Wolff/Swift. Stints at Gross Townsend Frank Hoffmann (as VP, group copy supervisor) and Kallir Phillips Ross (first as creative director of the firm’s consumer division and then as associate creative director/SVP of the entirety of KPR) followed, before a hiatus during which she raised a family – and somehow found the time to establish a copy and concept consultancy. She continued to work through a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, jumping to LifeBrands as SVP, creative director after concluding treatment and then co-founding Reagent. Her client experience included work on brands ranging from Tylenol to Duragestic. Schilling passed away earlier this year.

Ron Souza started in the pharmaceutical business as a staff pharmacist at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, Mass., before moving to Connecticut and serving as director of pharmacy, central services and respiratory therapy at the Newington Children’s Hospital. After nine years in hospital pharmacy and administration, he entered the business proper in product manager/marketing director roles at Intra Products, USV/Revlon Pharmaceutical and Endo Laboratories. But it was in the agency world that he found his true calling, spending nearly two decades at New York-based companies. He started at J. Walter Thompson (becoming VP, account group supervisor in the firm’s medical division, Deltakos Healthcare Agency) and Rolf Werner Rosenthal (president and COO). When RWR was acquired by Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, he rose to the rank of medical division CEO and served as a senior member of the agency’s worldwide management council. Next came a stint leading Barnum Communications – ultimately renamed Barnum & Souza – and then head of his own consultancy, All’s Well. Prior to his retirement, he served as marketing director of a division of the American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists.

About the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame: The MAHF was founded in 1996 to preserve the history and heritage of the medical advertising profession as well as to recognize the industry’s most influential and respected forebears. Since then, MAHF has grown that mission to include recognition of past excellence in creative work (through its Heritage Advertising Awards) and creation of educational resources (through its Young Executives Night Out program). As the MAHF enters its third decade of service to the industry, it has expanded its educational offerings and broadened its focus to encompass digital communications.

The MAHF is supported by the industry it celebrates, primarily through its annual gala awards dinner. Seats and tables may be reserved at Organizations wishing to support the institution may purchase half- and full-page ads in the awards night dinner program. For information about advertising opportunities or other MAHF programming, please contact executive director Anne Gideon at

The inductees will be honored on July 29th, 2021 at a black-tie dinner at The Pierre Hotel in New York City. As the MAHF enters its third decade of service to the industry, it is pursuing more educational programs, and expansion to cover digital communications. We hope that industry members will support us in our efforts, and look forward to welcoming them at our Annual Awards Gala on July 29th.

For more information, contact Anne Gideon, executive director, at

Continue Reading

MAHF names Thomas Harrison and Lawrence J. Lesser 2020 Inductees; John Kamp Service to Industry Award recipient

October 21, 2019

October 21, 2019 — The membership of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame (MAHF) has elected its 2020 inductees: Thomas Harrison, co-founder of Harrison and Star, and Lawrence J. Lesser, co-founder of Medicus Communications and ApotheCom Associates. John Kamp, founder of the Coalition for Healthcare Communications, has been named the 2020 recipient of the Service to Industry Award.

Thomas Harrison began his career at Pfizer as a sales rep where he quickly rose through the ranks and transitioned to the marketing side of the business. He then moved to the agency side joining Rolf Werner Rosenthal. After a short stint, RWR was bought out by Ogilvy and Tom decided to strike out on his own. In 1987, he and partner Larry Star opened Harrison and Star. Early project work for Lederle and Sandoz lead to their big break of winning Azactam (parenteral antibiotic) by ER Squibb & Sons (now BMS). Harrison and Star quickly became one of the fastest-growing ad agencies in the industry. From there, Tom moved on to DAS, serving as its President, then Chairman and CEO. He was instrumental in the acquisition of over 220 agencies using Harrison and Star as the blueprint for standardizing the acquisition criteria resulting in a group of agencies with over $5B in annual revenue.

Lawrence “Larry” J. Lesser started his advertising career in 1959 as an Assistant Account Executive at Friend Reiss Advertising. He then got a job in 1963 as Traffic Manager with the LW Frohlich Intercon Agency where he moved through a number of levels in client service to the position of Vice President to a member of the Executive Committee. Following the breakup of Frohlich Agency, Larry and Willian Castagnoli partnered with V. Edward Dent to start Medicus Communications in 1972. Medicus became an early player in consumer advertising. They were the first to promote a consumer product, Crest, to medical professionals. Medicus was also responsible for one of the very first national DTC television ad campaigns for Seldane. After retiring from Medicus in 1997, Larry became a consultant and eventually founded ApotheCom Associates, LLC with Neil Matheson 1999. ApotheCom became the largest privately-owned medical communications agency in the US. As Neil and Larry created additional agencies, they established the holding company AXIS Healthcare Communications, LLC in 2001 where Larry served as Chairman until 2007. Larry continued consulting in the industry before passing away in 2017.

John Kamp has been a longtime champion of the medical advertising and communications industry, advocating for the First Amendment right to communicate accurate and non-misleading information about new developments in diagnosis and therapy. John began his career as Director of Congressional and Public Affairs at the Federal Communications Commission, serving from June 1980 to October 1989, helping to make FCC policy and representing the agency to the public and lawmakers. He then moved to the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) Washington office as Senior Vice President from 1990 to 2000. In 1991, early in John’s tenure at the 4As, he was one of the group of advertising industry leaders who founded the Coalition for Healthcare Communication. John left the 4As to join the Washington law firm Wiley Rein LLP. In 2002, he became Executive Director of the Coalition for Healthcare Communication, while continuing as part-time Consulting Counsel at Wiley Rein. He retired from Wiley Rein in 2017 and retired as Executive Director of the Coalition in 2018.

About the MAHF: The MAHF was founded in 1996 with a mission to preserve the history and heritage of the medical advertising profession and honor those who founded and built the industry through their induction into a Hall of Fame.

Since its founding, the mission of the organization has been broadened to include recognition of past excellence in creative work through its Heritage Advertising Awards, and creation of educational resources through a Young Executives Night Out (YENO) program which holds multiple educational seminars throughout the year. The organization seeks support from the industry for its efforts, with a focus on the Annual Awards Dinner held in February. Support is given through advertising in the Awards Dinner Program and attendance at the Dinner. For more information, contact Anne Gideon, executive director, at

Continue Reading