Board of Directors

Edmonton Board of Directors 2019-20

  • Josie Hammond-Thrasher – President
  • Lyn Brown – President – Elect
  • Cecilia Bloxom, APR – Past President
  • Sharon Sush – Treasurer
  • Tadra Boulton, APR – Accreditation Chair
  • Melanie Houley – Membership Chair
  • Crystal Komanchuk – Programming Chair
  • Peter Haight & Christopher Schieman – Communication Co-Chairs
  • Vacant – Mentorship Chair
  • Kathleen Van Dusen – Secretary
  • Gwendoline Hunka – Director at Large

Josie Hammond-Thrasher

Josie Hammond-Thrasher is an award-winning PR practitioner who has built a reputation for planning and delivering innovative communications solutions. As the associate director, marketing & communications and the editor of HEROES magazine for the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, Josie is dedicated to giving the sickest kids the best chance, anywhere in the world, to live a long and healthy life.

Josie’s experience includes more than 20 years of owning and operating a professional services business where she worked as a consultant in communications and training roles with organizations such as the Alberta Government, Edmonton Public School Board, TELUS and the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension.

An avid volunteer, Josie serves as a mentor for the CPRS Edmonton mentorship program, mock-client for MacEwan University PR classes and communications panelist for the University of Alberta MBA program. She is the past membership chair for the CPRS Edmonton chapter, former co-chair for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Edmonton Relay For Life and former communications director for the Belgravia Community League.

Josie’s education includes public relations at MacEwan University, psychology at the University of Alberta and art at the University of the South Pacific. An advocate of lifelong learning, Josie will graduate from the University of Alberta’s leadership program in fall 2018. An adventurous Kiwi by nature, Josie and her husband raised their twin daughters in Fiji and moved back to Canada in 2009.

You can find Josie on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Lyn Brown

Lyn Brown is a change agent with 30 years of business strategy and communications experience. Her background is peppered with transformational change initiatives including postal service restructuring in the 1980s, an initial public offering, merger and integration in telecommunications in the 1990s, and court-protected financial restructuring, acquisitions and plant closures in the manufacturing sector through the past decade.

Prior to her role as vice president, Marketing and Communications at Alberta Innovates, Lyn led the brand, sustainability and external relations portfolio at Catalyst Paper from 2003 to 2013.

During her tenure, Catalyst ranked among Corporate Knights Magazine’s Best 50 Canadian companies for seven consecutive years and earned five awards for disclosure from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (formerly CICA).

She has served with many community boards, including the BC Premier’s Climate Action Team, Alberta private sector chair of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region; Quest Outreach Society, a Vancouver-based non-profit in the food security space; GreenBlue Institute, a Virginia-based non-profit dedicated to sustainable materials management; Canadian Business for Social Responsibility, Corporate Knights Inc., a Canadian-based certified B Corporation; and the San-Francisco based International Association of Business Communicators.

Lyn attained an ICD.D from the Rotman School-Institute of Corporate Directors education program, an MBA from Royal Roads University, an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Alberta, and a diploma in journalism from MacEwan University.

Lyn and her husband, Ray, recently returned to Edmonton after more than a decade in Vancouver.

You can find Lyn on LinkedIn.

Cecilia Bloxom, APR
Past President

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.

You can find Cecilia on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Sharon Sush

Sharon Sush has more than 20 years of financial management experience in the not-for-profit, government, real estate, oil and gas, and financial sectors.

As both a Chartered Professional Accountant and Certified Management Accountant, she brings a wealth of visionary strategic planning to CPRS Edmonton.

In her current role as the senior accountant with the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, she provides financial analysis and regulatory reporting on behalf of more than 38,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners; including the financial reporting for the Alberta Registered Nurses Educational Trust.

We look forward to Sharon bringing new business opportunities to our society as well as delivering on the customer service expectations of our members around all financial matters.

Sharon has been active volunteer member within CPA Alberta and communities; a past professional figure skater who enjoys sports, the arts and community affairs.

Tadra Boulton
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!

Melanie Houley
Membership Chair

With a desire to consistently improve and a passion for excellence, Melanie is excited to join this year’s board to give back where she can, while also seeking out opportunities to help advance our profession.

As an experienced, strategic marketing professional, Melanie has 20-years of experience with demonstrated skills in marketing, sponsorships, community engagement, and communications. With a main career focus on brand building and strategic events management, Melanie enjoys helping teams and brands achieve measurable business results through innovative, award-winning, and fiscally responsible, initiatives. From working on government communications projects, to planning large scale international events, to touring the world as a marketing and public relations professional, Melanie is very thankful to have had such a rewarding and diverse career working alongside some amazing people.

Melanie holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Communications, a diploma in public relations and a diploma in broadcast journalism.

In her downtime, Melanie enjoys sitting on patios, gardening to punk music, attending festivals, and watching murder mysteries.

You can find Melanie on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Crystal Wood
Programming Chair

Crystal brings several years of event planning experience to the CPRS Edmonton programming portfolio. She’s a motivated professional who enjoys a challenge. She shares her passion for the communications community with junior practitioners through mentorship and coaching.

Her professional expertise includes business problem-solving, strategic planning and writing. She holds a public relations diploma from MacEwan University and is accredited in public relations. She has worked in a broad range of industries including tourism, economic development, health care, engineering and manufacturing. She launched Crown Communications Consulting to help businesses build relationships through two-way communication. She is a senior internal communications officer at the University of Alberta.

When she’s not working or volunteering, she likes to ride her horses, travel and shop.

Connect with Crystal on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Peter Haight
Communications Co-Chair

Peter has actively participated in CPRS Edmonton since joining the chapter in 2012. For the last few years, he volunteered under the programming portfolio before joining the board as secretary in 2018. He is currently a communications coordinator with the City of Edmonton where he provides support to transit projects.

His career in communications dates back several years when he worked in broadcast journalism. After finishing school, Peter moved to Red Deer in 2008 to work at two radio stations as a news reader and reporter before moving to 630 CHED in Edmonton. In 2013, he graduated from MacEwan University with a public relations diploma. After graduation, he joined Alberta Blue Cross as a communications officer.

Originally from London, Ontario, Peter graduated from Western University with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Theory and Production and a broadcast journalism diploma from Fanshawe College. In his spare time, Peter volunteers as mentor with Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton & Area, enjoys learning new board games and is always planning his next big overseas adventure.

You can find Peter on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Christopher Schieman
Communications Co-Chair

Christopher Schieman is the Communications and Content Advisor with FKA, Edmonton’s largest locally owned full-service marketing and communications agency. In his role, he works with a broad range of clients from both private and public industry on digital communication strategy and content implementation as well as traditional public and media relations tactics.

Shortly after completing his Bachelor of Applied Communications in Professional Writing at MacEwan University, he held an internship with Avenue Edmonton and began freelancing for multiple local publications including Vue Weekly, SEE Magazine, St. Albert Leader, and Beatroute.

He’s held communications coordinator and leadership positions community centred not-for-profits such as the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada (NHPC) and the Greater Edmonton Foundation (GEF Seniors Housing) before making his way into the world of agency work. He continues to apply the creative ingenuity he developed from his years involved with promoting and performing underground music to his work as a communications professional.

When he’s not writing, Christopher can be found scouring used book stores, looking for classic science-fiction novels and sipping black coffee.

You can find Christopher on LinkedIn.

Kathleen Van Dusen

Bio coming soon

Gwendoline Hunka
Director at Large

If you need to find Gwendoline Hunka, listen for the loudest laugh in the room — her energy invigorates a crowd at any event because of her passion for people. As CPRS Edmonton’s director-at-large, Gwen wants to continue connecting with people in the community and enhancing her communications knowledge. Currently the Communications Officer, Media and Digital for the Edmonton Arts Council, she loves watching local artists and Instagramming public art around the city.

With a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Alberta and a Diploma in Public Relations from MacEwan University, Gwen is no stranger to the post-secondary community and actively works to connect student communities. When she isn’t planning events and activations, juggling multiple social medias or discovering new communications strategies, Gwen is horsing around, sort of. She travels the world to fulfil her goal of horseback riding on every continent.

You can find Gwen on LinkedIn and Twitter.