Written by Brooke Anderson

Ottawa comms community gives back through mentorship

Building connections, elevating a skillset, figuring out the next career move – these are just a few of the reasons IABC Ottawa members cited for wanting to join the chapter’s Members Connect Program, which recently kicked off for the third year running.

Exclusive to IABC Ottawa members, the Members Connect Program is a formal mentorship program that joins senior communications professionals with those at an entry- or mid-level. Mentor-mentee pairs meet monthly from February to June.

The benefits go both ways. It is an ideal opportunity for people looking to make a leap from school to work, move up the career ladder, or improve their strategic skillset. It is also a fulfilling position for experienced leaders to share hard-earned wisdom and help the next generation learn and grow and vice versa. 

This year, there was an overwhelming response from senior communications professionals looking to give back to the community, resulting in the largest group yet.

“I think people are craving connection right now and the new virtual format makes it easy,” said Ally Sebben, one of the program facilitators and Vice President, Membership. “It’s wonderful to see so many members taking advantage. One of our goals at IABC Ottawa is to develop strategic communication professionals, and the Members Connect Program is a key way that we accomplish this.”

Cassidy Charron, a mentee participant, echoed the desire to develop meaningful relationships and exchange ideas with people outside her own organization and social circle.

“Given the new virtual environment of networking, it has become increasingly difficult to meet new people and make connections. I think that the mentorship program will help bridge that virtual gap and get me in touch with professionals I would otherwise not have the opportunity to connect with,” she explained. 

Cassidy’s mentor, Awelana Akerwie, was enthusiastic about the chance to lend her 15+ years of knowledge and support an early-professional’s career advancement.

“This is one way I can express my appreciation for the work we do as communication professionals and give back to our community. What we do is important. We play a vital role in helping businesses tell their story, establish their brand, connect with their customers, employees and partners – we are influencers!”

Cassidy and Awelana are one of a dozen pairs taking part in the Members Connect Program this season. 

We look forward to celebrating all our amazing 2021 mentors and mentees at our annual general meeting in June!


  • Anna-Karina Tabuñar, Head of Strategy & Communications, Founder, Talent Untapped Group 
  • Melanie Gallant, Director, Communications & Government Relations, UNHCR Canada
  • Andrea Greenhous, President & Chief Internal Communications Strategist, Vision2Voice Communications
  • Christine Guay, Communications Coordinator, City of Ottawa 
  • Daniel Séguin, Director of Communications, Hydro Ottawa 
  • Alison Scarlett, AVP Communications & Public Relations, Giant Tiger Stores Limited
  • Melanie Rushworth, Director, Communications, Outreach, and Planning, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner
  • Kim Boulet, Manager, Content Design, NAV CANADA
  • Kaleigh Maclaren, Communications Advisor, Standards Council of Canada 
  • Awelana Akerwie, Community Banking & One TD Associate, TD
  • Obii Okwelume, Strategic Communications Specialist, Canadian Blood Services 
  • Benoit Laplante, SCMP®, Director, Global Communications and Marketing, CPCS 


March is Member Month at IABC! Tell us what you love most about the IABC community on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram for a chance to win one of ten $50 VISA gift cards that you can use at one of Ottawa’s locally-owned restaurants. Remember to tag us and use the hashtag #IABCOttawa. Additional details can be found on our website:

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We are an organization of professional communicators who work toward advancing careers of individual members as well as advancing the communications field as a whole.

Membership with IABC/Ottawa includes access to a network of local members, professional development workshops, meet-ups, webinars and more.