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Our board

The Canberra Chapter board consists of 13 peer-selected members.


JUSTINE O’BRIEN SCMP, PAST PRESIDENT 

Justine

Justine has worked in the communication field for over 25 years within the not-for-profit and public sectors in Australia and the United Kingdom. She began her career in event management in Brisbane and after completing a Bachelor of Business in Communication and Public Relations, embarked on a career journey encompassing events, media, public affairs, internal and change communication, and strategic issues management. 

Justine is passionate about researching and developing communication strategies to help organisations communicate better internally and externally.

Connect on LinkedIn: Justine O’Brien


MELANIE GIBBONS, PRESIDENT

Melanie Gibbons

Melanie has over eighteen years’ experience in communications across government, not-for-profit and the private sector in Australia and the United Kingdom. Melanie worked in the Australian Public Service for over a decade before starting her own consultancy Elm Communications. She now works across the Commonwealth Government and other local organisations helping them to communicate more effectively.

Melanie holds a Master of Strategic Communications, a Graduate Certificate in Social Media and Public Engagement, and a Bachelor of Communications. She is a passionate communications professional who believes quality communications can provide immeasurable value to any organisation – and she wants to support every communicator to prove it.

Connect on Twitter: @ElmCommsCBR
Connect on LinkedIn: Melanie Gibbons


LISA RANSON CMP, VICE PRESIDENT

Lisa is a writer and communicator who relishes opportunities to work with interesting and complex content. Through her work she has explored how language impacts the well-being of veterans and first responders, what it takes to build trust in government data use, and how COVID-19 vaccine confidence is won and lost. She specialises in building social licence and managing challenging issues. Lisa’s roles have spanned public affairs, professional research, communication and marketing advisory, content design, media, and events and activations. With a penchant for connecting ideas, the great love of her career is creating unexpected campaigns that achieve real change.

Connect on LinkedIn: Lisa Ranson


SARAH ILLY, TREASURER

Sarah is a passionate and accomplished marketing and communications specialist with over twenty years’ experience in devising and implementing engagement projects, communications plans, and marketing campaigns. Coming from a consumer analytics background, Sarah has a flair for unearthing actionable insights and embedding an audience-led approach into the development of marketing and communication strategies.

Sarah’s knowledge and expertise span both private and public sectors, client-side and agency, from manufacturing, retail and consulting to tertiary education, tourism, and government. With an equal passion for statistics and storytelling, she founded her own consultancy, SAIL Communications in 2021, providing end-to-end support from research and insights through to strategic communications and campaign development.  Sarah joins the IABC Board in 2022 in the role of Treasurer.

Connect on LinkedIn: Sarah Illy


SARAH TOALDO CMP, SECRETARY

Sarah Toaldo, CMP, is a creative communication professional and has a broad range of communication experience from broadcast television production through to secretariat and corporate communication. Sarah is currently Director, Defence Science Communication, within the Department of Defence. 

Over her extensive career, Sarah has worked in a wide variety of roles from camera operator to producer, administration to secretariat. Sarah’s interests are in change management, leadership, behavioural insights, strategic communication, and progressive organisational methods.

Connect on LinkedIn: Sarah Toaldo
Connect on Twitter: Sarah Toaldo


EMILY DAVIS, DIRECTOR OF MEMBER COMMUNICATIONS

Emily is an experienced communications professional with a substantial background in media production, content writing, digital community management and web publishing. She is currently a Consultant and Content Designer at Cordelta Digital, where she helps organisations to communicate clearly to the people who rely on their online services. With a Bachelor of Media andCommunications, a Bachelor of Business (Advertising) and as a current post-graduate (Masters) student, Emily is a self-professed ‘perpetual learner’. She loves exploring the opportunities that digital media presents to business, while reciprocally applying evolving technology and novel ‘best-practices’ to solve communication challenges. Emily is excited to work in conjunction withIABC Canberra’s team of like-minded board members, as they support theTerritory’s ever-growing communications industry in continuing to bloom!

Connect on LinkedIn: Emily Davis


SOPHIE CRIDLAND, DIRECTOR OF EVENTS

Sophie is a graduate in the communications team at the Department of Parliamentary Services. Having graduated with a Bachelor of Communication in Public Relations from the University of Canberra in 2019, she’s been passionately working in digital communications. Interested in further developing a strong skillset, Sophie is eager to explore the opportunities that digital communication holds for the future.

Connect on LinkedIn: Sophie Cridland


KIRSTEN DAVEY, DIRECTOR OF MEMBERSHIP

Kirsten Davey

Kirsten is a highly organised and uniquely experienced stakeholder engagement professional who knows how to get your story told and keep your audience engaged. She is confident and self-aware, with the ability to interact with people from all backgrounds and walks of life with sensitivity and discretion. Kirsten knows how to find the right words and images to engage and influence an audience, underpinned by varying research methodologies and governance requirements.

With experience working within the highest levels of Federal Government communications for more than 14 years, she has an established network of experts, consultants, bureaucrats and influencers to call upon.

Connect on LinkedIn: Kirsten Davey


KATHARINE PIERCE CMP, DIRECTOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Katharine is an award-winning strategic communicator with more than a decade of experience specialising in digital and corporate communications, project management, stakeholder engagement, public relations and marketing. 

She has a keen interest in the start-up sector and is currently advising social commerce company Discovrr on their marketing and communication strategies as they move into the next stage of platform development, capital raising and customer acquisition.

In addition to working in the government and education sectors, she spent many years volunteering for TEDx Canberra, pursuing her interest in supporting people to bring their passion and ideas to life on stage.

She is a pop culture trivia buff, amateur acrobat and has a lifelong ambition of learning how to make the perfect croissant.

Connect on LinkedIn: Katharine Pierce


HAYDEN THOMSON, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS 

Hayden is a communications, journalism, stakeholder management and social media specialist who is passionate about delivering outcomes for any audience.

Currently, Hayden’s role with KPMG sees him working with clients across a number of different service areas.  His focus is on behavioural change management, strategic communications, workforce intelligence, corporate affairs, human resources transformation, learning and development, organisation culture and design.

Hayden is currently studying a Master of International Relations at ANU.

Connect on LinkedIn: Hayden Thomson


AMANDA DENNETT SCMP, BOARD MEMBER

Amanda is an experienced strategic communication professional, specialising in digital communication, crisis communication, and media issues management. She is currently Head of Digital Experience at the Australian War Memorial. Amanda is completing a Master of Research at Swinburne University of Technology, researching Australian Government use of social media to engage with citizens. She has previously worked as a media adviser, lead a government video production team, and implemented social media customer service at the Department of Human Services. Amanda is passionate about the ethics of technology, GLAM, gender equality and sport.

Connect on Twitter: @mandyintransit 
Connect on LinkedIn: Amanda Dennett


ROMANY RZECHOWICZ CMP, BOARD MEMBER

Romany

Romany brings extensive experience working in government and private sectors in Australia and Canada.

She blends digital and traditional approaches to corporate, internal and change communications in government, professional services and small business in Canada and Australia to solve complex communication problems.

Connect on LinkedIn: Romany Rzechowicz


REBECCA HOLDER CMP, BOARD MEMBER

Rebecca is a certified Communication Management Practitioner (CMP ®) with over 20 years’ experience delivering strategic communication across Australian Government corporate, campaign and external communications. She brings a deep understanding of the Government public affairs environment and is passionate about best practice internal and change communications and the vital role they play in shaping an organisation’s culture by informing, connecting and engaging staff.

Connect on LinkedIn: Rebecca Holder

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