Alum of the Month: Katie Kirkpatrick Regan ’08

Previously known as Comma Girl, this PR expert is proud to support working moms and be one herself.

Katie Kirkpatrick Regan

The day after Katie Kirkpatrick Regan ’08 graduated from college, she started her own company.

It wasn’t a high tech startup or anything like that — Katie had double-majored in communication and English studies. In fact, she already had accepted a contract offer from Nova Chemicals, and felt relieved to have a steady job in her field just as the country was tumbling into a deep economic recession.

But her father, who worked in banking, had convinced Katie she should always have a secondary source of income and a backup plan. Since she already had a side hustle reviewing resumes and was a stickler for correct punctuation, Katie took her mom’s suggestion and called her business Comma Girl, in homage to a podcast she enjoyed called Grammar Girl.

Taking on extra challenges came naturally to Katie, who carried a full course load while playing varsity soccer for the Colonials as a starter in midfield for four years. While the team didn’t win as many games as the Johnstown native would have hoped, playing soccer paid off in several ways. “I learned more about time management, overcoming obstacles, and working with a diverse group of people and personalities that I wouldn’t have learned any other way,” she says. “So I wouldn’t give up those experiences. And in addition, I made lifelong friendships with my teammates — I was just texting with two of them today. And I was able to meet my husband too, so I think things turned out pretty well.”

Brandon Regan, a year ahead of Katie, played for the men’s team. By the end of her freshman year, the two were dating. A Wheeling native, Brandon transferred to Wheeling University for his senior year, then began a coaching career that took him as far away as Ireland. But despite the distances, the couple stayed together. They got married in 2013 and moved to Sewickley. Four years later, they had their first child. At that time, Katie was working as a communications executive at PPG.

That’s when she decided she wanted to work differently: smarter not harder. So in May of 2018, ten years after she had founded Comma Girl, she left her corporate job to focus completely on growing her own corporate communications business.

It worked out brilliantly. No longer a one-woman shop, her team has grown in just four years to 14 full- and part-timers, all of whom work remotely. Katie, who now has two young sons, Emmett and Dermot, especially enjoys hiring other moms.  “Working with such a great group of people, most of whom are working mothers, and providing them with flexible, exciting work that meets their needs is for sure the most rewarding part of all of this,” she says. “That feels really good.”

In February, Katie rebranded the business, changing from Comma Girl to the Kirkpatrick Group to emphasize its expanded capabilities and growing profile as an integrated strategic communications firm. They handle social media strategies, speechwriting, media outreach and news releases, reputation management and crisis communications for a host of clients, primarily in the manufacturing and chemicals industries.

Katie also stays connected to her alma mater, occasionally returning to RMU as a guest speaker for communication and English classes. And any time she wants to rekindle memories of playing on the pitch, she can be sure of good seats in the bleachers for her and the boys. That’s because Brandon is now assistant coach of the Colonials women’s soccer team.