Brian Ellner is a leader and innovator in the interconnected worlds of politics, government, media and communications. Brian leads Public Affairs for WPP in the U.S. and is an Executive Vice President in BCW's Corporate Practice.
Brian is a strategic counselor to CCOs, CMOs and senior decision makers at global corporations, nonprofits and foundations. He was named by City & State New York as one of the top 15 key players in the world of New York politics and government and one of the 50 most powerful New Yorkers in communications. Brian was recognized as a 2023 Notable Leader in Advertising, Marketing & PR by Crain's New York Business. Brian is the former General Manager for Public Affairs and Issues Advocacy at Edelman.
Brian was the senior strategist for the Human Rights Campaign's successful effort to win marriage equality in New York in 2011. In that role he launched New Yorkers for Marriage Equality, a communications campaign featuring iconic New Yorkers -- from Julianne Moore, Anna Wintour and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Barbara Bush and Sean Avery -- expressing support for equal marriage rights. Brian created HRC's Americans for Marriage Equality campaign and provided strategic counsel on the marriage wins in Maryland, Minnesota, Maine and Washington. He also co-founded the Four 2012, a national social media effort to support the four marriage campaigns.
Prior to the New York campaign, Brian was a senior aide in the administration of Mayor Bloomberg, working with the NYC Department of Education to transform public education. Brian worked with Chancellor Joel I. Klein to build the Education Equality Project, a national non-profit effort focused on eliminating the racial and ethnic achievement gap.
Brian is a Founding Board Member of Athlete Ally and a co-creator of the Principle 6 campaign to focus attention on Russia's anti-gay laws during the Sochi Olympics, and he is widely referenced in the LGBT sports movement. Brian is an advisor to Equality Now, HRC, GLAAD and the ERA Coalition and he sits on the Board of the 5BORO Institute. He has also led numerous pro bono efforts in support of NYC.
Brian worked with former United States Senator Bob Kerrey at MacAndrews and Forbes, where he focused on growing the company's education holdings and he was a member of the Technology Venture Group.
Brian is an attorney and practiced with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison and O'Melveny & Myers LLP. He represented media and fashion clients including Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Viacom. He has written about legal issues affecting advertising on the internet. Brian's pro bono work included representation of Freedom to Marry and a class of statewide plaintiffs in a challenge to New York's school financing system. He also co-authored an amicus brief in the historic United States Supreme Court gay rights case Lawrence v. Texas.
Brian is an advocate for those things he is passionate about, which include education, civil rights, art, film, sports, politics and changing the world (not always in that order) and enjoys connecting others with big ideas and similar interests. He is a native New Yorker who grew up in Stuyvesant Town and attended New York City public schools. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School.