A tribute to Omnicom's Janet Riccio

The EVP, dean of Omnicom University and founder of Omniwomen lost her battle with ALS this week.

Janet Riccio
EVP, Omnicom
Dean, Omnicom University
Founder, Omniwomen

Janet Riccio, EVP and Dean of Omnicom University, died Tuesday July 30 at her home in Manhattan. A passionate champion for women both at work and in her private life, Janet leaves behind an unparalleled legacy of advocacy.  

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Janet attended Cathedral High School and graduated from Boston University with a degree in healthcare administration. She began her career in the mailroom of a small advertising agency in Fairfield, Connecticut, but soon left the mailcart behind and set her sights on the corner office. Her nearly four decades-long-career took her from Arnold in Boston, to DDB Chicago, to Senior Vice President, International Group Account Director, at DDB Worldwide. In that role, Janet travelled the globe directing the McDonald’s business in 44 countries outside the US. 

Janet joined Omnicom in 2004 as Executive Vice President with oversight responsibility for many of their largest clients. In this role, Janet put her outstanding people skills to use, fostering and facilitating integrated solutions through multi-agency collaboration as only she could do. 

In January 2012, John Wren tapped Janet to succeed Tom Watson, the Founder of Omnicom University, as Dean of Omnicom University. She fully embraced this dream job, holding classes across the world and at Babson College in Boston. Janet was relentless in making Omnicom University a vital learning tool for executives, working tirelessly even after she was diagnosed with ALS.

The list of Janet’s accomplishments only begins to scratch the surface of her wonderful life. She launched Omniwomen in 2014, and it is now a global movement with chapters worldwide. The Omniwomen Global Advisory Council, which she chaired, is populated with some of the most senior women leaders in Omnicom.

Its mission is to drive advancement of women to senior leadership roles throughout the Omnicom network. She also led Omnicom’s Common Ground initiative — an agreement amongst the five largest holding companies to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Omnicom has chosen SDG #4 Education as its focus, partnering with two outstanding organizations, Girl Effect (http://www.girleffect.org) and Theirworld (http://theirworld.org). 

Outside of work, Janet’s philanthropic pursuits included Co-Chairing the Board of Directors of the New York Women’s Foundation, the nation’s largest Foundation focused 100% on bettering the lives of women and their children. She was also a member of the Advisory Board of Take the Lead, a national organization dedicated to women in leadership. In the last few years, Janet also became a champion of Project ALS, a foundation dedicated to finding the first effective treatments and a cure to the disease that ultimately took her life (http://www.projectals.org/).

She leaves behind a huge number of friends, her sister, Joyce, three brothers, Victor, David and Paul, as well as her beloved nieces and nephews, Christine, Tom, Crystal, Alicia, Joey, Katie, Victor, and Nicholas. A lover of live theater, dining and entertaining, Janet lived life to the fullest to her very last day. 

In keeping with Janet’s wishes, If you would like to make a donation in Janet’s honor, please send to either Project ALS  (http://www.projectals.org) or The New York Women’s Foundation (https://www.nywf.org).

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