Olita Mills

James LaForce has elevated agency veteran Olita Mills to president of LaForce, a leading New York-based marketing communications agency.

Mills, who has been with the firm and its predecessor company for 15 years, will work closely with founder James LaForce, who continues as chief executive officer. He had served as president as well since the agency was created.

Mills joined LaForce + Stevens as a senior account executive in 2005. That agency, which LaForce formed with former partner Leslie Stevens, was dissolved after a bitter dispute between the partners in 2016 and he created LaForce on his own immediately after.

During her tenure at the firms, Mills “established herself as a catalyst for the agency’s evolution, a sought-after mentor to staff, and a highly valued client adviser,” according to the company. For five years, she had been senior vice president of LaForce’s Global Brands Practice, a division she created that worked with brands in the corporate and consumer sectors. During her time in that role, Mills drove more than 60 percent growth in the agency, LaForce said.

“We use words like congeniality, tenacity, loyalty and versatility to describe our agency culture,” said LaForce. “Those qualities require a unique ability to lead and inspire, while giving others a voice. Olita Mills embodies all those values, and she takes her rightful place leading our company following her 15 years of commitment and growth. Olita’s rise to the top spot at this moment of profound cultural transformation is especially meaningful to me.”

As president, Mills will focus on client service, brand strategy and professional development for the firm’s 90-plus person staff. She will partner with the all-female Executive Leadership Team, which includes Rebecca Gordon, executive vice president of operations and chief of staff, as well as senior vice presidents Leslie Bishop and Jennifer Hinchey, to expand the firm’s digital and integrated marketing capabilities, and oversee internal initiatives centered on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I am incredibly motivated to help lead and shape LaForce at a time of unique challenges and opportunities,” said Mills. “In an industry where diverse representation is something we’re all committed to, I’m honored take a leadership role with so many top brands in fashion and retail, for whom I can make a real imprint on how we engage and respond to the evolving landscape and consumer mind-set.

“Our strength as creative and cultural connectors is more vital than ever. My focus is to protect, build and accelerate our brands and clients, while continuing to attract the best, most diverse talent in the industry.”

LaForce’s clients include Target, Banana Republic, Clarks, Hunter Boots and Supima.