All of us at Abernathy MacGregor are deeply saddened to announce that our founder and Executive Chairman Jim Abernathy has died. Jim has been the driving force behind our success, our cultural leader and the moral compass of our firm for more than 35 years. We will miss his unwavering commitment to clients and employees, his innate sense of what is right and true, his inimitable charm, tremendous kindness and his terrific sense of humor.
Named one of 50 PR Game Changers of PR by PR News in 2017, and an original architect of the strategic communications industry, James Logan Abernathy was born on January 23, 1941 in Kansas City. After graduating from the Hackley School in 1959 and then attending Brown University, he served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve until 1965. Following that, he became editor of several broadcasting trade publications, which proved fertile ground for his nearly two-decade career in senior communications and investor relations roles at ABC, CBS and Warner Communications.
In 1984, he founded Abernathy MacGregor with Jim MacGregor, which grew to become one of the world’s leading strategic and financial communications agencies. Today, the firm encompasses more than 70 employees with offices in New York, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Abernathy MacGregor became part of global media company Havas in 2000 and shortly thereafter, Jim founded and became co-chairman of AMO, a global network of corporate and financial communications consultancies who often partner together on cross-border assignments.
Jim was equally active and deeply committed to a wide variety of causes outside of Abernathy MacGregor, as an overseer of the Brown University School of Medicine, a Trustee Emeritus of the Hackley School, a Director of The World Policy Institute, Past President of the Investor Relations Association, Former Director of Episcopal Charities and a founder of Americans for Humanitarian trade with Cuba.
In addition to personally helping a great number of alcoholics and addicts, he was former chairman of The Caron Foundation of New York City and former chairman of The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. In his role as a Director of The Caron Foundation, Jim helped to establish an alcoholic and drug treatment program in the former Soviet Union in 1988, as well as the first “western” alcohol and drug treatment center in that country, in Moscow, in 1989. In 1994, he assisted in introducing that same program in Cuba.
Jim leaves behind his loving wife Kevin and three daughters Elissa McLean (Andy Winter), Maggie McLean Suniewick (Josh), Nell Abernathy (Dan Murray), as well as grandchildren Emmy, Sam, Theo and Benji, his siblings Susan Pliner, Emily Freidberg and David Freidberg, and his beloved dog Sunny.
Memorial donations may be made to The Caron Foundation at Caron.org.