PRIA's board continues its commitment to strong governance, sound decision making and national strategic leadership. The board of Directors consists of a President, Deputy President, Secretary, Treasurer, the Immediate Past President and seven Directors.

National President

Leigh McClusky MPRIA, Managing Director, McCo Group

Leigh has previously held the role of SA State President and the SA head of the Registered Consultancies Group. Leigh launched the McCo Group as McClusky & Co in 2008 following a 30 year career in print, radio and television journalism across Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Her company works across South Australia and Victoria with a broad range of clients.

National Deputy President

Helen Hutchings FPRIA, Group Executive Director, Phillips Group and QLD President, PRIA

Helen has extensive experience in stakeholder engagement, project management, marketing communication and public relations, having worked in consulting and corporate environments in Australia and the UK.

Helen has over 19 years of international and national engagement and strategic communication experience.She is a multiple industry award winner and highly regarded for her stakeholder engagement, consultation, strategic planning, issues management, insight and project management experience.

Helen leads Phillips Group’s infrastructure and public sector divisions and manages a portfolio of work ranging from managing the impacts of policy change to delivering stakeholder and communication strategies across infrastructure, health, education and transport  and public sector. She has worked on projects of a sensitive and controversial nature and is experienced in managing multiple stakeholders with conflicting views on a project. Helen adopts a thorough risk management approach to stakeholder relations and ensures that project reputation is protected and maintained at all times.

Honorary Secretary

Luke Schepen, Executive Manager - Corporate Affairs Strategy, Commonwealth Bank

 Luke Schepen

Honorary Treasurer

Shane Allison, CEO and Founder, Public Address and NSW President, PRIA
Shane Allison is the CEO and co-founder of Public Address, where he leads a team focused on delivering cutting-edge media relations tools for Public Relations professionals across the world. 
Prior to founding Public Address, Shane was the Client Services Director at Sefiani Communications where he led teams delivering communications and public policy advice and specialised in supporting executive teams to manage high-stakes reputation challenges.
Shane was recognised as the Mumbrella Commscon PR Professional of the Year and Mumbrella neXt Award PR Talent for his work in the sector, and was recognised as one of the AFR's Top 100 Future Leaders while studying at MGSM.



Sheena Ireland MPRIA


Brian OlsonBrian Chase Olson MPRIA, Director, Blend Public Relations

Brian Chase Olson is the Director of Blend Public Relations, an agency he created in 2020. Brian specialises in immersive storytelling and experiences for Australian wine brands, with work that spans publicity, events, experiential and content.

Prior to creating Blend, Brian worked as a communications specialist in-house at Taylors Wines, and as a senior account manager for leading independent PR agency Liquid Ideas, working with some of the world’s leading wine companies.

In addition to his role as PRIA NSW Council President, he is also the Co-Chair of the Wine Communicators of Australia NSW Chapter.


Claire Bell MPRIA, Director, Associated Advertising & Promotions (AA&P)

Claire is a corporate communications specialist with over 30 years’ experience working with a range of major clients within both Government and the private sector. 

Claire has worked in the Northern Territory for most of the last 30 years and established Associated Advertising & Promotions (AA&P) in 1999, a Darwin-based media and strategic communications agency. Over the last ten years, the agency has grown to include an award-winning business events division, AA&P Events.

Claire is an experienced marketer, copywriter, editor and creative director who has a proven track record for being a strategic thinker and hands-on project manager. Claire has worked on Federal and NT Government contracts as well as providing advice to multi-national clients such as Rio Tinto Alcan, CHC, ERA, INPEX and Darwin Port/Landbridge. Originally from Lyon (France), Claire is fluent in both French and English.


Mel DeaconMel Deacon MPRIA, Found and CEO, Elevate Communication

Mel is the founder and CEO of Elevate Communication. She started the company in 2007 and has built it into one of the most successful, independent communication agencies in Australia.

In a career spanning more than 20 years, Mel has worked for some of the world’s top companies and brands in Europe, Australia and New Zealand including Diageo, Westpac, Domino’s Pizza, Frosty Boy Australia, QSuper, Sodexo and the Surf Life Saving Foundation to name a few.

With an enviable network of contacts worldwide, Mel specialises in issues and reputation management, stakeholder engagement and strategic communication advice and management.

Mel holds a Bachelor of Business (Public Relations) from Queensland University of Technology and a Diploma of Business German from the University of Queensland.

She is a professional member of the Registered Consultancy Group and currently holds the position of Queensland President.


Ben SmeatonBen Smeaton MPRIA

Ben Smeaton is a public relations and marketing professional with experience in agency and state government roles. He is currently an Account Manager at national, full service marketing, PR, digital and design agency communikate et al. A trusted adviser, Ben’s skills and experience have been called upon to grow and nurture South Australian icons, ASX-listed companies, and some of Australia’s biggest and most well-known brands.


Annie HaywardAnnie Hayward MPRIA 

With more than 25 years advising Boards and C-suites in both ASX-listed companies and the not-for-profit sector, Annie Hayward is the founding Director of IRS, a consultancy focusing on health, education and community services. A former teacher, print and TV journalist, she completed an MBA and formed IRS as an investor relations and strategic communications consultancy.

She has worked with clients including: the National Heart Foundation, Bristol Myers Squibb, AMRAD, Bionomics, Melbourne Grammar School, the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and Carers Victoria.


Lisa Portolan MPRIA