At the Top of Her Game: VMLY&R Leader Honored with MM+M Pinnacle Award

Louisa Holland

April 21, 2021

Medical, Marketing and Media (MM+M) has honored Louisa Holland, executive director, science and learning at VMLY&R, as one of 20 honorees in its inaugural Pinnacle Awards for their continuing leadership and lasting impact on the health industry.

Few health marketing practitioners can match Louisa’s depth and breadth of experience, her expertise, and impact on the industry. She brings significant clinical and business acumen, creative thinking, compassionate leadership, and an innovative spirit that elevates everything she touches. Her decades long tenure on the frontlines of health care as a science-focused patient, caregiver, and HCP marketer has helped shape our industry.

Back when physicians didn’t understand the internet, pharma was uneasy with it and had strict policies that made it virtually impossible to actually engage doctors, Louisa’s vision delivered a creative new gateway that ushered the industry into the digital age.

As a leader in the industry’s most esteemed agencies – legacy Sudler and VMLY&R, she has demonstrated tremendous success, leading expansion and diversification strategies that moved the industry forward, while delivering growth for the agency and competitive advantage for clients.

Today, clients and colleagues continue to rely on Louisa for sound strategic counsel and mentorship as they navigate the ever-changing healthcare world. Drawing from her deep knowledge of medical science, she has an intuitive ability to translate complex science into fresh, clean creative ideas that drive successful commercialization

Louisa is a shining example for women who aspire to leadership in the life sciences, and inspires those she works with to raise the bar. Her tenacity, visionary leadership, and commitment to the craft and to others epitomizes the values for which the Pinnacle award stand.


With a background rooted in science, Louisa is fascinated by the intersection of science and society, and recognized for her expertise in finding the connections where science, creativity, and strategy bring the maximum benefit to clients’ brands.

Louisa’s interest in medicine and desire to work closely with physicians drew her to the field of medical education. Over her 40-year career, she has developed innovative programs for brands in all categories including respiratory, cardiology, infectious diseases, oncology, and women’s health. She has launched (and re-launched) brands, franchises, and groundbreaking therapeutic modalities.Louisa dedicated most of her career at the storied agency, Sudler & Hennessey, where she built the group’s medical education offering and ultimately spearheaded the U.S. network across multiple divisions.

Prior to Sudler’s merger into VMLY&R, Louisa was CEO of Sudler Science & Learning, which included seven divisions and represented close to half of Sudler’s U.S. revenue. In this role she drove strategic alignment and growth across a consortium of experts in medical education, medical affairs, training, speaker bureau, publications, animation, and immersive digital experiences. She also served as co-CEO of Sudler, leading business growth and operations in the Americas, which represented the largest share of both revenue and profit for Sudler’s global network. She oversaw all aspects of the business, ensuring the company reached annual financial metrics.

Remarkably, Louisa is a lifer in an industry of turnover. Over the years, she has shepherded clients through seismic shifts, and is considered to be a true secret weapon at VMLY&R.

She holds a BA degree in Biology from Harvard University and completed coursework in Issues in Health Policy at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.


Under Louisa’s leadership, Sudler’s medical education and interactive business grew to be more than half the agency’s total US revenue. In a span of 15 years, Louisa expanded the group’s medical education offerings to include publication planning, clinical trial support, speaker bureau management, and digital deliverables, helping to drive growth of close to 10-fold in revenue.

An early digital convert in the pharma space, Louisa was the driving force behind the development of Sudler Digital in the mid-90’s, which had more than $1 million in revenue before the division was spun off.

Notably, Louisa received the 2016 Medical Advertising Hall of Fame’s inaugural Digital Pioneer Award for her 1996 program “Physician’s Internet Tutorial”, which helped physicians better understand the value of the Internet for clinical research and education. Developed at a time when pharma clients were wary about the value and regulatory environment of the Internet, this program taught physicians how to best use technology for research on topics of importance to our clients. The program gained huge physician adoption. By directing physicians to meaningful and clinically relevant Internet experiences, Louisa helped define the ʼgatewayʼ for medical practitioners to enter the new world. In essence, Louisa and her team created a new channel at a time when nobody was using the word ‘internet’.

One of the programs Louisa is most proud of is the launch of Exosurf® – the first exogenous pulmonary surfactant for the treatment of neonatal RDS. Working closely with expert scientists and clinicians, she managed medical education initiatives that helped launch a medical innovation that reduced infant mortality by ~30%. Notably, she also came up with the creative idea to use baby’s breath in the iconic campaign launch.

In 2005, Louisa was recognized as among the 100 most inspiring people in the industry by PharmaVoice.


A former member of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association and former board member of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame, Louisa has been an active participant and contributor to industry organizations throughout her career. She mentors young colleagues and can be counted on as an idea resource for everyone in our practice.

Notably, in addition being a visionary for advances in healthcare marketing, Louisa uses her position to drive industry participation in issues of social justice. In 2010, she created and led a fundraising challenge among Medical Advertising Hall of Fame member agencies, resulting in over $100,000 being donated to Haiti for earthquake relief.

Within Sudler, Louisa ensured that the network dedicated time and resources to pro bono initiatives. Under her leadership, Sudler sub-brand agency, Sentrix was recognized for its pro bono work for the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) with the ICRF Corporate Philanthropy Award. Louisa received a personal commendation for her contributions.


Outside of work, Louisa devotes her strategic energies to critical social needs. She has a passion for education and is committed to helping low-income NYC students get educated so they can lift themselves, their families and communities out of poverty.

Louisa is a 7-year member (and past Chair) of the Board of Directors of Bottom Line NY – a nationally-recognized non-profit organization dedicated to helping low-income, first-generation students earn college degrees. She helps drive strategy, resourcing, and fundraising. Notably, Louisa secured the largest individual donation for Bottom Line NY thus far – a multi-year gift over $100K.

Louisa is also serving a second term as Vice President on the board of directors for the Harvard Club of New York (HCNY) Foundation. This non-profit Foundation that provides scholarship support to NYC students who have been admitted to Harvard College. With her family, Louisa created the Leonard and Taffy Holland Family Scholarship Fund in 2002 to help support undergraduate financial aid for admitted Foundation Scholars to attend Harvard College. Louisa was also instrumental in developing an ongoing funding relationship between the HCNY Foundation and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, resulting in a multi-year program called “Diversifying CUNY Leadership:  A CUNY-Harvard Consortium.”

Louisa is also a member and former chairperson of the Harvard Schools and Scholarships Committee, a role she uses to champion diversity in recruiting and community outreach.

Click here to read more about Louisa and all of the Pinnacle award winners.

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