Co-Founder, Wieden+Kennedy

Born into the third generation of wildcat drillers, David Kennedy grew up in the oil fields of Oklahoma, Colorado, and every other state along the Eastern front range of the Rockies……the range of the buffalo.   He had an idyllic, Tom Sawyer childhood, fishing trout streams and rivers he had no idea were world-class….The Madison, The Firehole, The Bighorn,  The Little Bighorn, The Silver and The Snake, and countless others.

At 13, his first job was as an apprentice welder, a craft that was to become a lifelong passion. He went on to attend the University of Colorado, where he received a Fine Arts Degree in printmaking and metal sculpture.  And today, he continues to create welded sculpture and prints in his home studio on his farm in Estacada.

He furthered his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Artist’s Guild, the Pacific Northwest College of Art, the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts, and the United States Marine Corps School of Charm.

David and his wife Kathleen moved to Chicago, where they began a family--all five of their children were born in the Windy City—and where David began his advertising career as a designer/art director, testing his skills at agencies that were every bit as world-class as the rivers he fished in his youth.  The work he did in these years would, on their own, mark out a successful life’s work.  But it was just the beginning. 

In 1979, David saw the opportunity to move his family back to the West, back to the mountains he loved so much and missed so dearly.  He left Chicago to join the Portland, Oregon office of McCann-Erickson.  Three years later, in a move that had friends and family shaking their heads, he teamed up with Dan Wieden and they went out on their own, appropriately, on April Fool’s day. 

But fools they were not.

Today, 29 years later, Wieden+Kennedy has offices in Portland, New York, London, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and New Delhi.  Their client list includes Nike, Coca-Cola, Nokia, Electronic Arts, ESPN, Ivory, Old Spice, Levi’s and Target..  Despite this growth, to this day, at the core of W+K there lies the inspiration and example of this wise, funny, irreverent and fundamentally kind man.   

For the last 20 years, David’s primary focus has been fund raising for the 37 Tribal Colleges that make up the American Indian College Fund, Wieden + Kennedy’s #1 pro bono account, for whom they have created and placed many millions of dollars worth of public service print and television advertising.

In addition, David collaborates with Native American artists and the Pendleton Woolen Mills to produce a line of limited edition blankets for the College Fund, based on traditional indigenous designs and legends.  He has served on the College Fund’s Board of Trustees for the last 15 years and remains committed to the mission of this great organization.

David is one of the most honored individuals in his profession.  He has been inducted into the prestigious New York Art Directors Hall of Fame, as well as New York’s One Club Hall of Fame.  He has been awarded Gold, Silver, and Bronze Lions at the Cannes Film Festival.  David’s work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.