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Alumni Profiles


Heath Applebaum (MCM’10)

Heath Applebaum is the President and Chief Reputation Officer of Echo Communications Inc. an innovative reputation management consulting firm he founded in 2000. Heath works with c-suite executives to build, protect and manage their most important assets. Heath is a highly principled, international award-winning, ABC-accredited communications professional with 20 years of proven public relations, marketing and journalistic expertise. He works with organizations to spark their business growth and attract new customers by building trust with their key stakeholders.  Heath has successfully developed and launched strategies for dozens of multinational corporations and is a sought-after consultant that was recognized with the prestigious global Gold Quill Award by the International Association of Business Communicator’s (IABC).  He is an industry thought leader and public relations Professor that has taught PR courses at the University of Guelph-Humber, Humber College and McMaster University. His insights are featured in numerous industry magazines, academic journals and a PR textbook. He he has spoken at more than 70 industry conferences around the world. Heath is also a respected freelance writer whose stories have been featured in many prominent business and travel magazines and prestigious newspapers such as the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. He proudly acknowledges that he was actually the first student to ever convocate from the MCM program, part of the inaugual 2010 MCM class.  In addition to his corporate and consulting work, Heath has taught graduate Public Relations courses at McMaster University, Humber College and was a curriculum developer for Centennial College.


Brittany Cadence (MCM’10)

Brittany Cadence is the Communications Manager at the Peterborough Public Health. In this role she oversees strategic communications at both the corporate and program levels to promote public health initiatives, and also manages the IT department. She earned her promotion to the management level the same week she graduated from the MCM program as part of the inaugural class in 2010. While a student in the program she earned top prize in the business school category in the Arthur. W. Page Society Case Study Competition. Currently she is also part of the founding committee to organize a provincial association for public health communicators in Ontario. Currently she is also co-chair of the newly formed Ontario Association for Communicators in Public Health.


Ilda Dinis (MCM’11)

Ilda Dinis is Senior Vice-President, Customer Experience & Innovation at Northbridge Financial Corporation, a leading commercial property and casualty insurance management company offering a wide range of innovative solutions for Canadian businesses. With over 16 years in the business, Ilda’s experience runs across industries and interests. She is a passionate marketing and communication strategist and manager, and a firm believer in building culture, brands and reputation through integrated, creative and engaging marketing and communication strategies.


Rebecca Edgar (MCM’12)

A 2012 MCM graduate, Rebecca Edgar is a public relations practitioner with 20 years experience spanning corporate, agency and non-profit sectors. Rebecca presented her capstone research on the reputation of the Niagara Health System at the 2012 International Public Relations Research Conference in Miami, FL and placed second in the 2011 A.W. Page Business School Case Study Competition in NY, NY.  She holds a BA in Political Science from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Public Relations from Humber College. Inspired by the interactive style of her MCM professors, Rebecca now teaches PR to environmental management students at Niagara College and has partnered with MCM colleague and mentor, Heather Pullen, to develop and deliver a new health communication course to graduate students at the DeGroote School of Business. A proud mom and Marauder, Rebecca’s most cherished MCM moment was defending her research to both faculty and family.


Heather Ferguson (MCM’10)

Heather Ferguson has broad experience in most aspects of communications, including journalism, stakeholder relations, major gift fundraising and brand development gained in sophisticated and competitive environments, mainly in the education and health care sectors. She is the founder and principal at Whale Communications Ltd. where she works with companies and non-profits to build stronger relationship channels with their key accounts or major gift donors. In January 2013, she also launched a monthly web series, Sonar Moment, dealing with leadership issues and featuring one-on-one interviews with CEOs in the Pacific Northwest. Past assignments focused on operations management and major gift fundraising where, as President, The Hearing Foundation of Canada she refined and refocused the business model, opened new markets for fundraising and programming and more than doubled the revenue derived from major gifts.  As an instructor in communications and fundraising at Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto, she honed her skills in curriculum development and pedagogy. Heather holds a degree from the University of Toronto as well as post-graduate degrees from Ryerson University’s School of Journalism and McMaster University, from which she holds a Master of Communications Management.  Professionally, she holds the designation ABC, (Accredited Business Communicator) and between 2003 and 2012, CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive).


Karen Humphreys Blake (MCM’12)

Karen Humphreys Blake, APR, MCM is Acting President and CEO, University Hospitals Kingston Foundation. Karen is a public relations, communications and employee engagement consultant with more than 25 years of experience. She has worked in a range of sectors and has held senior leadership positions in government, health care, social housing, hydro development and education. She has also gained considerable expertise in the volunteer sector, association management and fundraising through work with arts, heritage, community service and charitable organizations. Karen holds a B.A. (Hon.) Journalism from The University of Western Ontario and graduated from the Master of Communications Management (MCM) program at McMaster in 2012. She began her career as a general reporter and spent several years as a business reporter. She has also pursued ongoing education in fundraising and development and management. Research conducted during the program covered topics including: employee engagement communications; social media; fundraising communications; organization-community relations; strategic leadership roles in public relations; and reputation management.


Jacquie Hoornweg (MCM’13)

Jacquie Hoornweg is owner and president of Querencia Partners, a Toronto-based communications and public policy firm working primarily in the electricity sector and urban infrastructure internationally.
Our team provides communication and organizational effectiveness strategy, facilitation, content, digital and relationship management to help clients achieve their business goals, manage reputation and connect meaningfully with stakeholders, employees and communities. As well, we develop evidence-based policy solutions that further the public conversation on liveable cities. A graduate of the McMaster-Syracuse Master of Communications Management (#MCM), she currently teaches reputation management in the program and in McMaster’s #DeGroote School of Business Executive Education. There she meet a dynamic group of professionals whose own diverse experiences enrich my practice.
Join me for conversations on PR, policy and current affairs on Twitter @jacquiehoornweg. As long-time board member (2005-2010) and two-year chair of the Durham Strategic Energy Alliance (DSEA), she contributed to DSEA’s lead role in the creation of SPARK, the regional innovation centre serving Durham Northumberland as part of the ONE Network. Currently she is a director on the board of the Ontario Energy Network, an organization that provides connectivity and discourse within Ontario’s energy industry. Jacquie was an award-winning community news reporter and editor in Durham Region for many years. Over the past 28 years, she has also worked in radio, advertising and publishing across the Greater Toronto Area. Since joining OPG in 2003 she has served in a number of capacities in communications and relationship management. An avid volunteer, Jacquie’s served in various capacities from board member to coach with community, industry and minor sports organizations.


Colleen Killingsworth (MCM’11)

Colleen Killingsworth is president of CKCommunications Strategies, Inc. With more than 25 years of experience in communications/change management, Colleen has a strong track record in leadership, collaboration, and successfully managing complex, transformational projects and quickly earning the confidence and support of internal and external stakeholders. Her experience includes, but is not limited to strategic internal and change communications management, project management, program consolidations and moves, reputation management and branding, multi-stakeholder communication, corporate communications, crisis communications and issues management, and communication research and audits.


Wendy Mclean (MCM’13)

Wendy McLean-Cobban, CMP, ABC, MCM is a strategic, results-oriented communications, marketing and events professional with 14 years of experience working in both the financial and not-for-profit sectors. Currently she is Director of Marketing at Questica Inc., a leader in budget, performance, transparency and stakeholder engagement software solutions for the public sector. As a member of the management team, I am responsible for developing, implementing and measuring multi-faceted marketing and communications programs to increase brand awareness, showcase Questica’s value proposition, and contribute to customer satisfaction and leads with government, healthcare, higher education, K-12 schools and not-profit organizations, influencer groups, and media outlets. Questica is part of the GTY Technology group of companies (NASDAQ: GTYH). A GovTech 100 company.


Kim Morris (MCM’11)

Kim Morris is the Dean of the School of Health Sciences at Collège Boréal, one of only two French colleges in Ontario. Born and raised in the Sudbury area, Kim graduated from the MCM Program in 2011. Prior to being appointed Dean, Kim was the Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the North East Community Care Access Centre.
The MCM Program provided Kim with the strategic thinking and planning techniques that she needed in order to get to the next step of her career, and succeed. In her role as Dean, Kim is responsible for the management of the college`s health care programs as well as the marketing of these programs throughout not only Ontario, but to Francophones across Canada and internationally. Marrying both her experience in the education field with her experience and knowledge of the Ontario health care system make for a perfect mix. Add to that over 20 years of experience in corporate communications, media relations, and crisis management, as well as her new Masters` Degree in Communications Management, and you have, as a result, a Dean that is ready for anything!


Heather Pullen (MCM’10)

Heather Pullen is Principal at Pullen Communications Inc. Heather Pullen is a skilled and experienced professional communicator with expertise in all aspects of public relations, reputation management, crisis and issues management, stakeholder and community relations, media relations and strategic writing. As an award-winning public relations professional, former journalist, and university professor, Heather provides senior strategic communications counsel and implements communications strategies that are comprehensive and innovative. A member of the inaugural MCM class, Heather credits the program for igniting her interest in public relations theory and research. After experiencing some early success in international academic competitions, she is continuing to pursue publication, research and teaching opportunities. Heather is an instructor in the MCM program, McMaster’s Master of Health Management program, McMaster’s MBA program and McMaster’s undergraduate communication studies program.


Don Smith (MCM’10)

Don Smith was Director of Operations in the Public Affairs Branch of the Canada Revenue Agency. The position includes responsibility for media relations, social media, liaison with regional communications staff, and special event planning and speechwriting for the Minister of National Revenue. A member of the first MCM graduating class, Don believes, “the curriculum achieves an excellent balance of theoretical and practical learning.” He has continued his academic relationship with McMaster University, where he is a regular lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia.


Natalia Villegas (MCM’10)

Natalia is Senior Manager, Global Corporate Communications for Thermo-Fisher Scientific. Originally from Colombia, Natalia Villegas has successfully managed strategic communications programs and projects in leading private sector companies including Research In Motion and Citibank, and government organizations including the Organization of American States in Washington D.C. and the Regional Municipality of Halton. Natalia graduated in 2010 as part of the MCM inaugural class. The MCM Program stimulated her interest and knowledge in strategic corporate communications, managerial planning, and reputation management.


Martin Waxman (MCM’19)

Martin Waxman develop and lead custom-tailored social media, online crisis and and content marketing sessions and workshops – for large and small groups – that provide people with the understanding and tools they need to successfully navigate in our new communications landscape and achieve business goals. All training sessions are engaging and interactive with practical takeaways that bring the knowledge gained to live. Martin recently completed his Master in Communications Management from McMaster/Syracuse focused on researching AI, relationships and communications. Martin has over 25 years of experience in creative and business writing, video and audio producing, public relations and journalism and can work with you and your team to help your business discover, shape and develop your content marketing program, set up your online newsroom and identify and build relationships with influencers to amplify your stories via social PR.  Based in Toronto, Maritn a blogger and podcaster who speaks on social media trends at events around North America. Martin also written and published two books of fiction, written and produced for film and television and has been a journalist, ad copywriter and standup comedy MC.