Edmonton Board of Directors, 2018-19
- Josie Hammond-Thrasher – President
- Lyn Brown – President – Elect
- Cecilia Bloxom, APR – Past President
- Catherine Hoac – Treasurer
- Tadra Boulton, APR – Accreditation Chair
- Melanie Houley – Membership Chair
- Mary McIntyre – Programming Chair
- Sonya Jongsma Knauss – Communication Chair
- Halle Hochachka – Communication Chair
- Mikiko Van Horn – Mentorship Chair
- Marjorie Henderson – Mentorship Chair
- Peter Haight – Secretary
- Gwendoline Hunka – Student at Large
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.
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
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.
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 is working for the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and is looking forward to expanding her knowledge and skills in the communications field.
Tadra Boulton, APR
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!
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.
Mary joined the board in 2016 and is responsible for providing ongoing professional development opportunities to members, public relations professionals and students. She previously volunteered as co-chair for the Canadian Cancer Society’s largest annual fundraiser: Relay for Life.
Her former careers as a coach and an educator helped lay the ground work for a successful career in communications. Mary has practiced strategic public relations for more than a decade beginning at the University of Alberta in Dentistry and later Pharmacy. She is now a communications officer at Alberta Innovates working with a talented team that serves 600 employees.
A proud University of Alberta and NAIT alum, Mary enjoys spending her spare time with family, her horses and pets as well as outdoor activities in Parkland County.
Sonya Jongsma Knauss
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.
Halle graduated from the MacEwan University Public Relations program back in 2017 and has been working in the freelance communications community for the past year. Most recently, Halle has been working on freelance projects for the largest record pressing plant in western Canada, incorporating her love of music, with her passion for digital strategies and social media. Although Halle loves freelance work and collaborating with diverse clients, she is searching for a more stable full time position for the future.
After finishing her practicum last summer, Halle heard of the incredible opportunity to volunteer on the CPRS Board of Directors. She was first voted as the Student at Large Director but has taken a more responsible role as the co-communication chair for the 2018-2019 board year working on website career submissions and new social media strategies.
When Halle isn’t volunteering her time in the communications community, she loves to ride her bike through the river valley, go out dancing with her friends and walk her adorable dog Burton.
With over ten years’ of experience, Marjorie Henderson is an expert in digital marketing and public relations, who adores technology, storytelling and digital communications.
Earlier in her career, she led PR and online communications strategies for global brands and other organizations such as the University of Alberta and the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, and also served as Marketing Advisor to the British government and British Prime Minister. Marjorie has a Master of Arts Degree in International Development from the University of Manchester, along with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alberta.
Currently, she works for one of Alberta’s large technology incubator, Cybera, while running her own digital marketing and public relations consultancy firm.
She is an active volunteer in the local chapters of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) and International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). When she isn’t glued to her AirMac writing content about the tech industry or tweeting about startup life, you can always find her out and about in the Edmonton.
Mikiko Van Horn
Like many members of the local communications community, Mikiko found her way into public relations through the PR program at MacEwan University. She spent her year as a student using every spare moment outside of class volunteering and building on the skills offered by the program. It was through meeting the diverse communicators of Edmonton that she found this opportunity to support students like herself and joined the board of CPRS Edmonton.
A junior public relations practitioner, Mikiko applies her creativity and communications skills as Communications Coordinator with the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors. She continues to volunteer with a number of organizations, including the Stollery Women’s Network and Canada Learning Code.
Mikiko holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Victoria, specializing in Pacific and Asian studies. When she’s not wandering farmers markets, crocheting projects or popping up at networking events, she’s planning her next DnD campaign. Mikiko’s always looking to meet new people and talk shop, so feel free to reach out!
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.
Student 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. She volunteers regularly with Babes Who Brunch and also sits on the marketing committee for Momentum Walk-In Counselling. During her summer practicum as an ATB 101 student, she worked on campaigns for the Alberta Podcast Network and ATB’s 80th Birthday. Her biggest project was the #ATBListensLounge at SocialWest, the largest social media conference in Western Canada, that earned over one million Twitter impressions in two days.
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 marketing strategies, Gwen is horsing around, sort of. She travels the world to fulfill her goal of horseback riding on every continent.