Charlene Prounis, an entrepreneur and founder of multiple successful agencies, and Carol DiSanto, who’s best known for the three influential decades she spent within one organization, are joining the ranks of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame (MAHF).

The two became fixtures on the healthcare advertising scene, DiSanto having made her mark at Omnicom legacy firm Cline, Davis & Mann (CDM), culminating in president and managing partner, and Prounis logging a dozen years at erstwhile WPP agency ghg before starting her own firm, Accel Healthcare, and later Flashpoint Medica. Both Accel and Flashpoint were eventually sold to Omnicom.

Their induction, slated to take place in February, will mark the first time both MAHF honorees are women. In an industry, and a hall of fame, that has traditionally been dominated by men, but which has seen more and more women at the top in recent years, Prounis said it was high time women began to get more recognition.

“There are a lot of women in my age group who have worked our way up and have made a reputation and a name for ourselves,” Prounis said. “Now, there’s a lot of women in senior positions in advertising and I’m really happy to see it. Our time has come because we’ve been in the industry and earned our recognition, and it’s wonderful for the organization to recognize and put forward two women.”

Honoring more women in the industry is also a boon to younger women who are still working their way up. Although, Prounis recognizes that women still have a way to go to reach equality in leadership.

“I know there’s still a really big glass ceiling,” she said. “If you look at the top of many holding companies, it’s mostly men, but we’ve made a lot of inroads and we’ve made a lot progress and I’m proud of that. For young women we have to continue to strive and achieve. Role models really do help bring people up. If I can see you as another woman who made it, that helps.”

A study fielded earlier this year by MM&M and Publicis Health showed agencies are making incremental progress addressing the leadership gap for women, with some 28% saying they plan to increase the number of women in the C-suite this year.

Prounis’ career in pharma began in 1982 at Searle, where she worked as a sales rep. She moved over to pharma after a stint in nursing. But when sales still wasn’t the right fit, Prounis found her way into pharma advertising.

Over her career, Prounis spent 12 years at grey healthcare group, in roles like director of business development and director of client services. She later co-founded her own agency, Accel Healthcare, before selling it to Omnicom. In 2005 she started another firm, Flashpoint Medica, and led that one for 11 years before selling it to Omnicom in 2016. Flashpoint was later merged with AgencyRx and three other agencies to form DDB Health, which is now part of Omnicom Health Group.

These days, she sits on the board of W2O Group and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. Prounis also helped create and introduce, along with Sharon Callahan, CEO, TBWAWorldHealth, the Future Famers group, ensuring the MAHF not only enshrined past leaders but cultivated future ones, as well.

Carol DiSanto began her career on the consumer side, working on marketing for over-the-counter products at Esty Advertising. In 1987, she joined CDM Group where she stayed for 27 years. At CDM, DiSanto worked her way up the ladder to leadership roles like managing partner, director of client services, president of CDM New York, and president of CDM Group.

During her time at CDM, DiSanto worked on major campaigns like the launch of Viagra in the late 1990s and helped grow the firm’s healthcare work from one client to more than 40. She could not be contacted by press time.

Prounis and DiSanto will both be honored at next February’s MAHF dinner, which will also include a tribute to late MAHF co-founder David Gideon, who died in 2018.