In Pam Edstrom, WE found a co-pilot with deep knowledge of the technology industry, a feisty and heartfelt approach to mentorship, and a fearless willingness to take on outsized challenges. 

Pam Edstrom started her career in technology PR with Tektronix Inc. and later became Microsoft’s first director of public relations. In 1984 she partnered with Melissa Waggener Zorkin, helping to build what is now one of the largest independent communications agencies in the world.

"She loved getting to the bottom of things," Melissa remembers. "That was our common bond. I wanted to know how things worked, Pam wanted to know why things happened. That’s one reason that pushed me to ask Pam to be my partner, but the biggest was that we shared the unwavering belief that relationships matter more than anything else."

Pam Edstrom started her career at Tektronix Inc.
Pam Edstrom and Melissa Waggener Zorkin cofounders of WE and best friends
"We shared the unwavering belief that relationships matter more than anything else." Melissa Waggener Zorkin

Pam and Melissa shared a common vision for business and life:  

  • Values should drive decisions, always 
  • Communications can move people to positive action 
  • People are the core of our business 
  • It’s always about doing our best work 
  • The big question: What business problem are we trying to solve? 
  • When harnessed to a common vision, people can accomplish anything 
Pam Edstrom hero pose on Waggener Edstrom sign

Pam’s ingenuity and guts earned her respect from clients and co-workers, and her approach to education made her a powerful mentor for WE employees looking to grow in their careers. Her skills earned her accolades across the industry: Woman Executive of the Year from the Portland Business Journal, the 50 Most Powerful Women in PR and 100 Most Influential PR People of the 20th Century from PRWeek. After her death in 2017, she was posthumously inducted into the PRWeek Hall of Fame. 

But it’s her mentorship and dedication to learning that stick with WE today. “She believed in education,” Melissa says. Pam donated extensively to public schools in Vancouver, Washington, and to the University of Minnesota. In 2010, she joined the Board of Directors of The LAGRANT Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships, mentorships, professional development and support for ethnic minorities pursuing advertising, marketing and public relations careers. She spoke about business and communication issues in venues such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand and others.

In 2018, WE established the inaugural and continuing Pam Edstrom Scholarship and Endowment Fund, which supports communications undergraduate students in the Pacific Northwest — the generation that will pick up where Pam left off. 

WE, too, is picking up where Pam left off. “Pam told me she had no regrets,” Melissa says. “She thought that what we built here was the best thing she’d done in her life.” 

Pam Edstrom and Melissa Waggener Zorkin at the ocean