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Kathy Cain

President and creative director

Majority whip.
Client counselor.
Identical twin.

Although award-winning creative director Kathy Cain has amassed 400+ awards from CASE, UCDA, Higher Education Marketing Report, and Educational Advertising Awards, she considers leading and growing Zehno her highest form of creativity.

Inspired by her father, who transformed a startup company into a thriving business, Kathy founded Zehno in 1984 with her colleague Paulette Hurdlik. She says that leading one of the most talented teams of people means always asking clients the right questions to dig deep, hold up a mirror and uncover ways of working smarter.

Kathy is a master consensus builder able to tackle the most sensitive situations with a velvet glove — helping clients better navigate their internal politics and careers. Her ability to immediately grasp the big strategic picture while also envisioning the implementation details — an unusual but highly productive combination — has earned a sterling national reputation for her and for Zehno. She loves the challenge of figuring out what makes a campus tick and what kind of student is the right fit. She counsels clients on breaking down silos and spending more time planning — two of the most common mistakes she sees educational institutions make in development, marketing and communications.

Kathy and her team have coached more than 10,000 higher ed professionals and in-house teams at organizations, conferences and speaking engagements across the country including:

  • Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)
  • American Marketing Association’s Symposium for Higher Education (AMA)
  • Conference for Women Religious Communicators (CWR)
  • University and College Designers Association (UCDA)
  • Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC)
  • National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
  • Loyola University Design Lecture Series
  • Jesuit Development Conference
  • Forté Foundation MBA Women’s Leadership Conference

Kathy spends much of her non-Zehno time with her five grandchildren in New Orleans and  southern California. Her best thinking begins each day with a walk around the parks in New Orleans with her dog, Pepper. You can find her most Sunday afternoons cooking for friends or her big Cajun family and reminiscing with her twin sister, Cindy, about their teenage years as Osmond Brothers groupies.


B.F.A., graphic design, Louisiana Tech University
Minor in marketing

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