Board of Directors

Edmonton Board of Directors, 2017-18

  • Cecilia Bloxom, APR – President
  • Melissa Pennell – President – Elect
  • Dan Vankeeken – Past President
  • Catherine Hoac – Treasurer
  • Marjorie Henderson – Secretary, Mentorship and Education Chair
  • Tadra Boulton, APR – Accreditation Chair
  • Josie Hammond-Thrasher – Membership Chair
  • Mary McIntyre – Programming Chair
  • Sonya Jongsma Knauss – Communication Chair

Cecilia Bloxom, APR

Cecilia Bloxom, APR, ABC, is accredited in communications by both the Canadian Public Relations Society and the International Association of Business Communicators. As the Senior Director, Strategic Communications for the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI), Cecilia is dedicated to sharing awareness of healthcare safety across Canada.

Cecilia has worked in healthcare communications for 15 years and joined CPSI from a senior role in public affairs at Capital Health, Edmonton area. Cecilia is a passionate communicator and believes that Edmonton has serious talent. Cecilia and her team have received over 21 Communications Awards including two Gold Quills and numerous awards of excellence from the Canadian Public Relations Society.

With a diploma in advertising and public relations and a degree in public relations, Cecilia is currently pursuing her Masters in Leadership. When not busy working or supporting the CPRS Board, Cecilia can be found running, skiing, listening to live music, or trying to make her community a better place.

Melissa Pennell

Melissa Pennell is a communications consultant who has been practicing strategic public relations for over 12 years. Melissa was first introduced to CPRS when completing her BA Communications at the University of Calgary, where she sat as the student rep for the University on the CPRS Calgary Board.

Melissa’s career began in Fort McMurray, where she found her passion for the public sector working as the Manager of Communications at the Northern Lights Health Region. Melissa began consulting in 2006, and her clients have included environmental monitoring and research groups operating within the Athabasca Oil Sands Region, as well as several other not-for-profit and community groups.

From 2009 to 2011 Melissa took her skills abroad, relocating to the United Kingdom and working as a Communications Business Partner with the Scottish Police Authority – the body responsible for maintaining, promoting and continuously improving policing in Scotland.

Melissa was the Director of Communications with the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA) from June 2015 to July 2016 (when the Agency was rolled back into government). She is currently the Manager of Public Affairs for the Alberta Medical Association.

Dan Vankeeken, APR CRFE
Past President

Dan VanKeeken has been The King’s University vice-president for institutional advancement since September 2011. Dan has more than 30 years of experience in communications and marketing in a variety of sectors in two provinces, which has included senior positions with ATCO, NOVA, the Alberta Motor Association and NAIT.

He is the longest-serving instructor in the Public Relations Program at MacEwan University, and is a tutor for Athabasca University (AU). A former journalist, Dan has a Communications degree from AU and earned a certificate in Corporate Community Relations from the Boston College Centre for Corporate Citizenship. He is also an accredited public relations practitioner.

Prior to joining the King’s community, Dan served as a senior communicator with the City of Edmonton where he led two teams, one supporting city councillors and one supporting the Corporate Services Department. He has been a volunteer fundraiser for various organizations for decades and earlier in his career was responsible for communications and development for the Fraser-Burrard Hospital Society in the Vancouver area. He has also served on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations. At King’s, Dan leads three teams responsible for fundraising, marketing and communications, plus alumni and parent relations.

Catherine Hoac

Catherine grew up in a small town of Two Hills outside of Edmonton. After graduating high school, she decided to pursue a career in accounting. She got distinction in her Accounting and Strategic Measurement Diploma at MacEwan University in 2012. In 2014, Catherine finished her Bachelor of Commerce degree with an accounting major. After graduating, she worked at an accounting firm in Stettler, Alberta where she prepared tax returns for individuals and companies and audited rural schools and towns. She chose Stettler where she could be close to her brother and her niece.

While she enjoyed accounting, Catherine wanted a change that would allow her to be more creative. So she went back to school to get her Public Relations Diploma and a communications internship with the Government of Alberta. Catherine has worked for the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and is currently working for Cashco Financial as a marketing specialist. She is looking forward to expanding her knowledge and skills in the communications field.

In her spare time, she loves to hit the gym, go to the mountains, and take her beloved dog, Luna, on long walks in Edmonton’s river valley trails.

Marjorie Henderson

Biography coming soon.

Tadra Boulton, APR
Accreditation Chair

A true Edmontonian who has always lived in our fabulous capital city, Tadra joined CPRS in 2015, participated in the Mentorship Program as a mentor, obtained her Accreditation in 2016, joined the Edmonton CPRS Board in 2017 as Accreditation Chair, and is currently helping local Accreditation candidates with the process.

After a 25-year career in health care communications, Tadra joined the Government of Alberta to lead the Office of the Alberta Seniors Advocate as their Executive Officer.  During her time in health care, she was part of all of the transformations – from the cuts in the 90s, to the formation of health regions across Alberta through to provincialization; what is now Alberta Health Services.  In her progressive career from Advisor to Manager to Director, her wide range of experience encompassed internal communications, media relations, issues and crisis management, social media, community engagement, government relations, business and education partnerships, and leadership. Her current role gives Tadra the opportunity to focus on leadership and providing strategic advice and council.

A proud Grant MacEwan alum, Tadra is passionate about golf, personal & professional growth and development, and coaching others to succeed.  If you have been considering Accreditation, give Tadra a call and she can help you decide if this is the right time for you!

Josie Hammond-Thrasher
Membership Chair

Josie Hammond-Thrasher is a multi-award winning PR practitioner who has built a reputation for planning and delivering creative communications solutions on time and on budget. Currently, she is an associate director with the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Josie’s work experience includes four years of owning and operating a professional services business. She has more than 10 years of experience in communications and training roles with organizations such as the Alberta Public Affairs Bureau, Workers’ Compensation Board, Edmonton Public School Board and Christmas Bureau of Edmonton.

An avid volunteer, Josie is the membership chair for the Edmonton chapter of the Canadian Public Relations Society, former co-chair for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Edmonton Relay For Life and former communications director for the Belgravia Community League.

Josie studied psychology at the University of Alberta, art at the University of the South Pacific and is a graduate of Grant MacEwan University’s public relations program.

An adventurous Kiwi by nature, she moved to Edmonton from Fiji in 2009.

Mary McIntyre
Programming Chair

Mary started her public relations career at the University of Alberta before moving to Alberta Innovates where she works as a Communications Officer. She has more than seven years of experience in communications and training supporting organizations’ internal and external needs. She became a CPRS member early in her career while at the University. Her previous careers as a coach and a teacher in Alberta’s Parkland School Division influenced her decision to redirect and focus on a career in communications.

Mary is a programming co-chair at the Edmonton chapter of the Canadian Public Relations Society and former co-chair for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Edmonton Relay For Life. She has an education degree from the University of Alberta, a Radio and TV Arts diploma from NAIT and a national equestrian coaching certificate.

Mary shares her life with a devoted husband, three horses, two dogs and two cats.

Sonya Jongsma Knauss
Communications Chair

Sonya began her communications career as the founder, owner, and editor in chief of a neighbourhood newspaper in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Later, she helped launch a new publication for the media conglomerate Journal Communications. Over six years, she held 3 positions within the company: assistant editor for MKE weekly magazine, member of the Editorial Board at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel daily newspaper, and Editor and Manager of a niche website for Milwaukee parents. She was a regular guest and host on local television and radio programs.

After her work in Journalism, Sonya switched her career track to higher education communication, taking a position as Director of Marketing and Public Relations at her alma mater in Iowa for six years before moving to Edmonton to work as University Relations Director at The King’s University. Sonya has a bachelor’s degree in English (writing emphasis) and minor in political science. She earned her master’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She and her family of six have embraced Edmonton and returning to their Canadian roots; they enjoy living near downtown and exploring the beautiful river valley. Sonya participates in a number of Edmonton running groups.