President’s Report 2020

When I signed on to be IABC Canberra President for 2020, I had no idea that I’d be leading our volunteer team through times of smoke and bushfires and coronavirus, virtual board meetings and events, and difficult health and financial times for the community we live in.

The highlight for me this year has been how much exposure this role has given me to the breadth and complexity of work that communication professionals in Canberra have tackled this year. As a group, we’ve repeatedly risen to the challenges in front of us to deliver for our audiences. We’ve remained professional and responsive, even though we may have been dealing with health crises, financial difficulty, family issues, or loss. I’m proud to be a communication professional in Canberra working alongside you all.

During 2020, IABC Canberra aimed to be a consistent source of information and networking support for our members during a time of significant change. Our key achievements were our ability to transition learning and networking events online, and delivering our first-ever certification exams.

We wouldn’t be able to run the events and activities that we do without the contributions made by our supporters Isentia and Cordelta. My sincere thanks for your ongoing support.

Professional development

We ran a full events calendar during 2020 which included:

  • January – We hosted our ‘Back to work’ Midweek Mingle at Ostani Bar @ Hotel Realm. It was well attended as people looked to share a drink in the sun and make new connections for a new work year.
  • February – IABC Canberra were event partners for the Public Sector Strategic Communications & Engagement conference at the Canberra Rex Hotel. Our Board members were available for a chat across the two-day event.
  • April – We held our first virtual Midweek Mingleevent. Comms professionals from a range of backgrounds joined us online with a cupof tea or wine in hand to talk about their current communication challenges andworking from home.
  • May – We took an in-depth look Media and Covid-19 in Australia, NZ and the Asia-Pacific with Ngaire Crawford, Insights Director at Isentia. We also held a virtual Midweek Mingleevent.
  • June – Our crisis communication webinar presented byPeter Rekers provided excellent tips on how to prepare for, anticipate and execute public information and communication campaigns for a crisis. We also held a virtual Midweek Mingle event.
  • August – We delved into issues of communication, technology, trust, and AI with Jason Perelson, Creative Director at Synergy Group.
  • September – We held our first face-to-face Midweek Mingle in months! A small crew, including some new members, joined us at Ostani Bar. We also brought you the joint IABC Asia-Pacific and Isentia webinar about communication trends for 2021.
  • October – We ran the very popular Co-design in COVID times interactive webinar with Etienne Maujean, Head of Research and Design at Cordelta Digital. We also held our first-ever Global Communication Certification Council exams, resulting in three newly certified Canberra communication professionals.
  • December – We held our end of year celebration event at The Inn at Ainslie, in partnership with Isentia. It was great to get together in person again, to share stories and hear some live music.

A hard-working Board

Your Board met 14 times through December 2019-January 2021 to plan our professional development program and manage the business of the chapter. I am so very thankful for the service of:

  • Alison Senti, Past President
  • Hailey Ross, Treasurer
  • Leonora Nicol, Secretary
  • Justine O’Brien, Director of Professional Development and Vice President
  • Michael Liu, Director of Events and Acting Vice President
  • Lisa Ranson, Director of Membership
  • Astrid O’Neill, Director of Member Communications
  • Sophie Cridland, Director of Digital Communications
  • Damian Tunney, Board member
  • Romany Rzechowicz, Board member

As well as those who left our Board during the year:

  • Virginia Cook, Board member

Please give your 2020 Board a round of applause for their efforts this year.


Despite the work and financial uncertainty that 2020 brought for so many, our membership base remained strong. As at time of writing we have 76 members, although we interact with a wider network of about 500 communicators in Canberra. Membership growth, including Corporate memberships, will be a continued focus for the Board in 2021.

Part of a global organisation

Our chapter is part of the Asia Pacific Region of the IABC and our Board members have regular virtual meetings and interactions with the other chapter leaders to share challenges and exchange ideas on how to continually ensure we are providing value to our respective memberships.

In February 2020, I was fortunate to represent IABC Canberra in Austin, Texas at the IABC Leadership Institute. We won a chapter management award for our Corporate Rebels event in 2019.

Unfortunately, the FUSION APAC Regional Conference planned for March 2020 was postponed due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions. A virtual conference is planned for April 2021 and we will bring you updates on the event schedule and tickets in the near future.

The IABC World Conference 2020 went virtual this year, too. Although it was a shame that Chicago didn’t get to host visiting communication professionals from around the world, the virtual format actually provided the opportunity for more people to attend, particularly for those outside North America who may not have been able to spare the travel costs or time off work to visit the USA.

Our Vision for 2021

Over the past three years, the IABC Canberra Board has been delivering on its 2018-2020 strategy, with a focus on membership, awards and recognition, and professional development including certification. I’m pleased to say we’ve delivered on most of these goals, sustaining an engaged membership base and hosting our first-ever certification exams.

The new IABC Canberra Board for 2021 will hold a planning session during February to develop our next three-year strategy for the chapter. Our focus will remain on providing value for our members, presenting leading professional development events in the national capital, providing opportunities for networking, and helping our members attain awards and certification to help advance their careers.

Closing thoughts

It is during times of uncertainty and isolation that we look to others for support, encouragement and connection. I’m very proud of the role IABC Canberra was able to play in supporting communication professionals with opportunities to learn and connect during 2020. Thank you to our loyal, long term members and to each of you for your support and friendship this year.

Although my term as President comes to an end at our AGM on 20 January, I look forward to supporting Justine O’Brien as President for 2021 and the entire IABC Canberra Board through another successful year of advancing the communications profession in the nation’s capital.

Amanda Dennett, SCMP

2020 President, IABC Canberra


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