Charlene Wheeless

CEO

Charlene Wheeless, LLC

Charlene Wheeless is a renowned communications expert, author, and speaker with more than three decades of experience in corporate affairs and communications. Before starting her own firm, Charlene Wheeless, LLC, Wheeless served as the principal vice president of global corporate affairs for Bechtel Corporation, one of the leading engineering and construction companies in the world. Responsible for global communications, issues and reputation management, sustainability, stewardship and public affairs, she is credited with transforming reputation and brand of the 120-year old, multi-billion-dollar global corporation. As a C-suite executive and communicator, Charlene has lived the experience of being a Black female executive at a number of large, global organizations. The accumulation of her skills and experiences has positioned her as a cornerstone in ensuring inclusivity and diversity in corporate environments. Today, Wheeless combines her extensive knowledge of leadership and communications, along with her skill in managing adversity to help others learn to retain authenticity in business and in life.

A gifted speaker, Wheeless has spoken at national events and industry events, such as PR Week’s PR Decoded conference about empowerment in corporate America, her “a-ha” career moment, the importance of being authentic, diversity beyond inclusion and much more. She currently shares her experience in life and leadership as chairman of the Page Society, the world’s leading professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives and educators and as a public speaker.

Her expertise has long been used as a resource to the corporate communications and business community, with features in various media outlets about emerging trends in journalism and communications and authentically sharing your story during a period of media transformation. Wheeless has been named by PR Week magazine as one of the 50 most influential PR professionals in the industry for four consecutive years. She was also named to the PR Hall of Femme, the PR Global Power Book and the 2017 National Journal’s “25 Influential Black Women in Business.” In addition, she has also been named a Woman Worth Watching” by the nationally known Profiles in Diversity magazine and a “Women Who Mean B usiness” honoree by the Washington Business Journal.

Her debut book, "You are Enough! Reclaiming your Career and Your Life with Purpose, Passion and Unapologetic Authenticity" is slated for publication later this year. The book details her experience as a Black, female executive in industries that are traditionally white and male, her courageous fight with cancer and the changes she encountered in her life and career as a result. Additionally, the book features practical strategies for overcoming adversity from her lecture series “Lessons from Being Invisible.”

Wheeless graduated from New Mexico State University with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and public relations. She earned a master’s degree in public communications at American University in Washington, D.C., and an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. She resides in Northern Virginia with her husband of 29 years with whom she shares two daughters aged 26 and 24.