Sheila Wisniewski

President and CEO, Canada
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Sheila Wisniewski is the President and CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies Canada. She has over 25 years’ experience in public relations and is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of corporate communications, consumer marketing, and influencer engagement.

Sheila joined Hill+Knowlton in 2003. She became general manager of H+K’s largest Canadian office and headquarters in Toronto in 2015 and was appointed president and CEO in 2018. With sectoral expertise in technology, consumer goods, health care, and retail, she has led integrated national accounts for such diverse clients as Whirlpool, Coca-Cola, HP, and IKEA.

Sheila holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) degree in English and political science from Trent University and graduated with honors from Humber College’s public relations certificate program. She is passionate about social issues and is a driver of H+K Canada’s national DEI program. Sheila currently serves as Vice Chair of the Sinai Health Foundation’s Brand Strategy Council.

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Kristy Payne

Chief Operating Officer
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Kristy oversees the operations of the firm, driving a culture of collaboration, and delivers strategic counsel to clients drawing on her marketing and communications experience.

Before joining H+K, Kristy spent a decade at Plan International Canada, most recently as Chief Communications Officer, responsible for the organization’s media and public relations, youth engagement and school fundraising, corporate communications, brand, advocacy, as well as digital communications.

Prior to Plan International Canada, Kristy managed public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola where she was responsible for leading the partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, launching Coca-Cola Canada’s first Corporate Social Responsibility report and travelling across Canada managing media relations during the Vancouver 2010 Torch Relay and Winter Olympics sponsorship.

Kristy started her career in communications for a school board and then managed the marketing acquisition and research arm of a publishing company producing niche lifestyle magazines and television guides. Kristy also worked for the Ministry of Education in Alberta where she integrated leading-edge digital learning resources into K–12 curriculum.

She has travelled extensively including a year teaching English in South Korea and holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in International Business and Marketing from the University of Alberta, a French language certificate from Laval University, and an MBA from Queen’s University.

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Jennifer Koster

Chief Client Officer
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Hilda Kinross

Chief Innovation Officer
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Adopting an ‘always in beta’ philosophy as H+K Canada’s Chief Innovation Officer, Hilda is responsible for adapting and deploying new proprietary innovation tools and approaches across the national network, providing strategic counsel on large national files and integrated new business opportunities.

She brings over 20 years of experience in planning and executing integrated communications and marketing programs in a wide variety of sectors including, Consumer technology, CPG, Entertainment, Fashion and Retail, Food and Beverage, Consumer Health and Leisure and Travel.

Before joining the firm, Hilda spent several years directing national public and media relations efforts in the technology marketplace, with a focus on consumer marketing. Her background includes event management and, in her prior years of practice, managing direct mail and employee communications campaigns. While living in South Africa, Hilda managed the external communications programs for a leading wireless company and headed up a global sponsorship project for an international telecommunications company.

Hilda holds a bachelor of arts and an honours degree in business from WITS University in South Africa. She also studied international relations at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.

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Greg Yaroff

Chief Financial Officer
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Allison Dewhirst

Vice-President and Acting General Manager, Toronto
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Isabelle Verreault

Senior Vice President + General Manager, Québec
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Isabelle has been providing leadership oversight to H+K Canada’s teams in the Montreal and Quebec City offices since May 2016. She has more than 20 years’ experience in project management and communication, the last 13 of which have been in the fields of urban development, land use planning and public participation.​

With her exceptional ability to quickly grasp the dynamics of different environments, Isabelle plays a key role in major projects in the energy, mining, real estate and infrastructure sectors. She advises major public and private institutions in the development of information, communication and consultation strategies that will enable them to interact with the various stakeholders involved in their complex projects. With her comprehensive knowledge of various regulatory bodies, Isabelle helps steer project teams through municipal, provincial and federal approval processes and prepares them for public hearings.​

Prior to co-founding Acertys, Isabelle spent ten years in the banking sector, in marketing communications and call centre management, and as an agency account manager. In the early 2000s, she joined an organization that supports local cooperative initiatives in the Montreal area where she collaborated on numerous urban revitalization initiatives and helped develop and implement public participation processes for major real estate projects.

Isabelle has a Bachelor’s degree in political science and has completed graduate studies in management. Isabelle is very involved in her community and she is a board member of SOVERDI and Technoparc Montreal. She is also involved in the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), and she often gives talks and training workshops on the challenges associated with public participation and social acceptability.


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Michelle McLean

Senior Vice-President, Acting General Manager, Ottawa and National Sector Lead, Health + Wellness
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An experienced lawyer, public affairs and communications professional in both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors, as National sector lead for Health + Wellness, Michelle provides strategic counsel and support to a wide array of communications and public affairs clients and takes a leading role in developing corporate communications, stakeholder engagement and government relations strategies and campaigns. ​

Michelle’s background includes a decade of public affairs and communications experience, including almost three years as vice-president of public affairs at the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). During her time there, Michelle managed several national, large-scale projects, including a multi-year public relations and government relations campaign for the MHCC’s homelessness project and the launch of the Mental Health Strategy for Canada, a campaign which was recognized by the leading medical journal The Lancet as having achieved remarkable success for a public mental health campaign. ​

Michelle has led and managed other national, large-scale campaigns, including a campaign for the funding of the Cancer Control Strategy for Canada. This national campaign, which relied on grassroots mobilization, traditional media relations and advocacy, resulted in a commitment by the federal government of $260 million over five years, a record at the time. Michelle has twice been named as a Top 100 Lobbyist in Ottawa. Some of Michelle’s past and current clients include CADTH, the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Partners for Mental Health, TRIUMF, CSL Behring Canada, Hoffmann-La Roche, Pfizer, Abbott, Ovarian Cancer Canada, Ontario Hospital Association, Research Canada, Cochrane Canada, the Alliance for the Canadian Arthritis Program, and ALS Canada. ​

Michelle completed her undergraduate degree at Queen’s University and her law degree at the University of Western Ontario. She spent four years as a litigation associate at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, LLP.

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Stephen Smart

General Manager, Western Canada (Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina)
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Stephen brings 20 years of communications and media experience to his role as the General Manager of Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ Vancouver office and as a member of the agency’s Canadian leadership team. Focused on delivering strategic counsel to clients across a range of sectors, Stephen is a trusted resource for strategic media relations, public affairs, issues management, as well as stakeholder relations advice. He is also regularly engaged by both government and corporate leaders for crisis or issues management counsel across North America as well as executive level media training.​

Stephen stepped away from agency work for two years to serve as the Press Secretary to the Premier of British Columbia and then as Executive Director of Communications and Issues Management for British Columbia’s Official Opposition Caucus. ​

Before moving into communications consulting in 2014, Stephen spent 15 years as an award-winning journalist with several of Canada’s top news organizations including serving as the Legislative Bureau Chief for CBC News in British Columbia, as well as experience as a reporter, producer and talk show host for CKNW Radio, CTV, and Global BC. His journalism expertise and local BC market knowledge gives him a unique media relations insight as well as unparalleled contacts in major newsrooms across the province and the country.​

Stephen is also regularly engaged by media outlets to provide political commentary and analysis and volunteers as a senior advisor to a non-partisan society working to encourage more younger Canadian to seek political office.


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Sarah Brandon

Senior Vice-President and National Lead, Business Development + Marketing
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Sarah leads H+K Canada’s national new business and marketing efforts. She is an expert strategist and proven leader with a deep understanding of the firm’s corporate culture and service offerings on a global scale. Sarah brings a wealth of agency experience in marketing communications to help strengthen creative processes and drive business development. ​

Prior to rejoining H+K, Sarah was vice-president of consumer marketing at a national public relations firm and was a member of its global consumer leadership team. In this role, she was the senior communications strategist and Canadian-market integration lead for an impressive roster of global, North American and domestic brands.

Sarah originally joined H+K Toronto in 2000 where she spent six years with the marketing communications team. She then spent three years in H+K’s London, England, office leading consumer files that spanned from CPG to consumer health to automotive. ​

She has a bachelor of arts in media, information and techno-culture studies from Western University, and belongs to the Canadian Public Relations Society and International Association of Business Communicators.

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Elliott Gauthier

Senior Vice-President and National Lead, Data + Analytics
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As Senior Vice President and national leader of Data + Analytics at Hill+Knowlton Strategies Elliott delivers deep insight into client audiences by combining powerful primary research methodologies (quantitative and qualitative) with the best social media and digital intelligence tools.

Elliott is an accomplished research methodologist with particular expertise in segmentation models. Elliott oversees hundreds of research  assignments each year at H+K, providing robust analysis, detailed presentation of findings and strategic insights and recommendations based on credible, reliable and innovative research methods.

Elliott has extensive experience working with boards of directors and executive leadership teams to uncover the meaning of research findings while providing counsel on how to position the research in support of their objectives.

Elliott has over 15 years’ experience in senior-level positions in the research industry.  Immediately prior to joining H+K, Elliott was co-founder and chief operations officer (COO) of an innovative and successful research consultancy based in Ottawa. In this capacity Elliott oversaw hundreds of research assignments a year, along with company operations, business development and client relations.

In addition to his work with H+K, Elliott is a professor of Research, in the Public Relations Program at Algonquin College. Elliott is a recently retired member of the Primary Army Reserves having served 20 years in the infantry. Elliott also coauthored a paper on audience estimation models and methods with Google in 2011.  In 2016 Elliott was awarded the Forty Under 40 award for innovation and entrepreneurship in his field as well as his contributions to his community.

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Jason MacDonald

Senior Vice-President and National Lead, Corporate Affairs + Advisory
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Will Stewart

Senior Vice-President and National Lead, Public Affairs + Advocacy
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Elma Foric

Creative Director, The Studio
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Elma is an award-winning conceptual and strategic thinker with a keen eye for design. She works in both the physical and digital space with a wide range of experience spanning energy, lifestyle and pharmaceutical. Beginning her career in the UK, Elma brings global experience to the agency world, creating multi-million-dollar campaigns for Canada’s largest retail, airline and beverage brands.

Combining big ideas and social strategy is her forte. Most recently she has done this for clients such as, YMCA, J&J and Westjet’s partnership with RBC. She’s not only proficient in design, but has a depth of experience in styling shoots, creating interactive customer experiences and directing video production. She also leads client workshops to uncover brand narratives and bring those concepts to life.

In a recent campaign for Pfizer’s oncology department, she developed an awareness campaign that turned an unknown disease into a social media campaign that was viewed by almost 1  million Canadians and was recognized as North American Campaign of the Year at the Sabre Awards.

Her background has allowed her to seamlessly blend elements of PR, design and advertising, while leading creative teams to combine big ideas and creative platforms for Canadian companies.

Her objective is to always push, keep it simple, and create something that makes a meaningful difference.

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Angie Lamanna

Senior Vice-President and National Sector Lead, Consumer Packaged Goods, Food + Drink, Retail + Leisure
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Janice Foreman

Senior Vice-President and National Sector Lead, Technology
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