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MEET THE TEAM: Adriel McMahan

People raised to view challenges as opportunities often dream big. Meet Jeff Winton Associates account executive, Adriel McMahan, who expanded her horizons beyond her small-town roots to develop a fresh approach to creativity, problem solving and social media implementation.

Raised in Elkmont, Alabama (population <500), Adriel was the all-around student: competing with the golf team, cheerleading at football games, playing the drums in the school’s marching and concert bands, and graduating number 1 in her high school class.

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The love of Adriel’s life is her sweet, funny Stella.

As an adolescent, Adriel had her eye on a career in journalism, though she admits with a chuckle, “For a brief time as a child I thought I’d be a good brain surgeon, despite having the most unsteady hands!” In her junior year in high school, Adriel landed a summer job writing obituaries for “The News Courier” in Athens, Alabama. “This was a community newspaper and a perfect place to get my feet wet,” says Adriel. “Soon, the editor gave me my own column, which even included a byline!”

When it came time for college, Adriel chose to stay in the state. “My mom and dad inspire me and continue to support my aspirations. Family has always been important to me, and the Tuscaloosa-based University of Alabama was only about 2 ½ hours from home,” she says. 

Residing in Tuscaloosa gave Adriel exposure to city life, so that in itself was an education. Adriel notes, “I went from a very small town where everyone knew everyone to getting lost every five seconds on a massive campus!”


As Adriel became immersed in her courses, she realized that she enjoyed public relations and marketing more than journalism. When nearing completion of her bachelor’s degree in communication and information sciences, one of her professors took her under his wing and encouraged her to stay at the University of Alabama for her master’s degree in advertising and public relations. 

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Julie Lux (left), vice president of communications for Rural Minds, and Adriel represented Rural Minds at CattleCon in Orlando, Florida.

“Dr. Kenon Brown had multiple meetings with me after I took his A+PR class and helped guide my future,” Adriel recalls. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without his passion for mentoring his students.”

Dr. Brown urged Adriel to apply for assistantships and teaching jobs to help pay for her advanced degree. She was hired by the prestigious Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, which changed the trajectory of her life.

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Adriel with her mom (far right), dad (second from left), sister Gracie and her sister’s boyfriend Amagee on vacation in Orange Beach, Alabama.

At the time, Jeff Winton was a member of the Plank Center Board of Advisors, and he attended the 2020 annual meeting that Adriel helped plan and execute. They bonded over their backgrounds growing up in rural America and the need for better mental health services in remote areas. “Jeff told me about his newly-launched agency, and he brought me on with a part-time schedule that summer. At the same time, I was working at Plank, teaching in an adjunct professor role and serving as a social response advisor at Apple.” 

Her Apple position involved developing and moderating content for the company’s social media support channels, helping to ensure that content stayed true to the Apple brand and analyzing results of social media outreach.

All of this hands-on communications experience, especially her skills with digital and online content, did not go unnoticed by Jeff, who offered Adriel a full-time position upon completion of her master’s program. Her responsibilities include leading one of JWA’s biotech accounts while also serving as a valued team member on several other client projects. In addition, Adriel supports the social media efforts for Rural Minds, a non-profit organization founded by Jeff to raise awareness for the prevalence of mental illness in rural areas and to provide access to resources.

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With grandmother, Cindy Baune, at a holiday craft fair. 

In her spare time, Adriel attends classes at the local gym to prepare for participating in 5K and 10K races, with the goal of running a half marathon in the next two years. She also loves reading and listening to podcasts; attending craft fairs and community events with her family; and hanging at home with her affectionate bernedoodle, Stella.

While Adriel enjoys unwinding, she also truly loves her work.  “There is no better feeling than working with a high-performance team to service our incredible clients,” Adriel says. “Whether it’s social media strategy or scoring interviews with reporters, it’s exciting to play such a meaningful role across several different therapeutic areas and know that what I do could be beneficial to health care professionals, patients and caregivers.”

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