2018-2019 Board Nominee Biographies for Voting Purposes

Alannah Smith, President
Alannah is an experienced communications professional specializing in the health care and wellness sectors. With a passion for sustainability, creativity and a dedication to data-driven solutions, Alannah provides innovative and forward-thinking strategies to address the unique communication needs for internal and external challenges in a health care environment. Prior to relocating to Colorado where she is now leading marketing and communications strategy at Craig Hospital, Alannah had a successful career in the health care sector in Toronto, Ontario, working in Corporate Communications at a large community hospital in the high-tech capital of Canada. Alannah has been involved with IABC since 2010 and has served on various committees at the Toronto and Colorado chapters including serving as a director on the Professional Development committee (Toronto) and Membership Committee (Colorado) prior to serving as Co-VP of Professional Development on IABC Colorado’s 2016-2017 Board of Directors and as President Elect on the 2017-2018 Board. Alannah earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Western Ontario and completed graduate studies in Corporate Communications at Seneca College of Art and Design at York University in Toronto, Ontario. Alannah looks forward to continuing to grow with IABC Colorado and is proud to be serving as President of the 2018-2019 Board of Directors.

Katie Murrin-Finch, Vice President Finance
Katie Murrin-Finch, a Colorado native, is a Public Relations professional recently returned to Colorado with her husband and their three children. She holds a master’s degree in Strategic Public Relations from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Metropolitan State University. Katie has held diverse roles in non-profit and corporate sectors throughout her career. She has managed crisis communications, community relations and business development for the American Red Cross in the Washington, DC area. Her role in corporate communications for an U.S. airline conglomerate expanded to the development of traditional and new media communication plans, advising executive leadership on business best practice execution, and recommending and initiating strategic business partnerships. Katie has been an active IABC member since 2012 and began working as a finance committee member for IABC Colorado in 2016. She was elected VP of Finance in 2017.

Michael Mierendorf, Vice President Communication
Michael has served the City and County of Denver’s Auditor’s Office as Director of Community Outreach since October 2017. He has been leading the Auditor’s Office in relationships with the community and advancing communications platforms (with the Director of Communications) to create an approachable, transparent and knowledgeable resource of the Auditor’s role in the city of Denver. His experience and comfort with emerging technologies, and his desire to be active in local change, brought him to the Auditor’s Office. Prior to that, Michael worked locally as a full-time freelancer with the YMCA national brand and Denver small business clients; spent more than six years in admissions and technology at Columbia College Chicago; and spent four years at The Onion newspaper. Michael strongly believes that using the power of technology can advance the cultural conversation and works daily to keep up-to-date with tools that can help that mission. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Print Journalism from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and a minor in modern U.S. History.

Melanie Rice, Co-Vice President Membership
The founder of Crux Strategic Communications, Melanie is an employee engagement geek, marketing communication maven, entrepreneur and obsessed Oregon Duck football fan. In addition to serving as Vice President of Membership for IABC Colorado since 2015, Melanie served as creative director and led the marketing team for the IABC Southern Region Conference in Denver, October 15-17, 2015. She also is an active member of PRSA. Melanie has directed communications teams for over 25 years at industry-leading Fortune 500 companies, including Molson Coors Brewing Company, Newmont Mining Corporation, H-P, Compaq and Tandem Computers. This breadth of experience enables her to excel strategically, creatively and tactically in a broad range of communication disciplines. With the perfect balance of right-brain/left-brain thinking, Melanie Rice earned a B.S. in Quantitative Analysis from University of Oregon and a M.B.A. in Marketing from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, Calif.

Kimberly Kovacich, Senior Delegate and Past President
Kimberly works as an independent consultant. She is passionate about the communication domain and how it integrates with every piece of the business world. Her work aims to increase her clients’ revenues by producing tangible results in sales, marketing and communication … because without communicating how great you are, no one will ever know. She enjoys working with small to mid-size businesses to create programs that help organizations communicate effectively while improving corporate culture. Prior to‚Äč branching out as an independent consultant, Kimberly was a marketing and communication lead at an oil and gas company providing corporate communications, marketing, social media and organization strategy for both a midstream and completion services company. Throughout her career, Kimberly has worked in many industries including aviation, commercial real estate, government consulting, startups and oil and gas. She is passionate about supporting her community and has done so by volunteering with IABC-Colorado for the past four years. She has also volunteered with the I Have A Dream Foundation, Hogar Hispano, Friends of the Orphans, and Urban Peaks. Kimberly earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Jay Thomas, President Elect
Jay has been a member of IABC for 15 years. Since relocating to Colorado in 2013, he has served as an appointed Webmaster for the
IABC-Colorado.com website; Director of Communication, Vice President of Administration, Vice President of Communication and Co-VP of Communication. Professionally, Jay currently leads a marketing team which supports sales efforts on behalf of a nationwide network of nonprofit agencies that provides business and product solutions to federal and commercial customers, thereby creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities. During his tenure, he has launched and managed a yearlong campaign on behalf of a federal program for people with disabilities and branded and launched a national electronics recycling network. Jay’s work has won awards from the IABC and PRSA Washington, DC chapters and from printing, school public relations and municipal government industry associations. He has experience in media relations, marketing and brand communications, advertising, internal and external change management, speechwriting, and graphic and multimedia design. Jay also spent nearly 10 years with Maryland-based Melwood, where he oversaw communication, marketing and fund development for one of the nation’s largest non-profits employing people with disabilities. Jay earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and minor in human services from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Jo Solonika, Vice President Administration
Jo is a corporate communications and marketing professional with success in developing and implementing game-changing strategies and programs that drive bottom-line results. She is a proactive, strategic business partner known for improving business results and driving brand awareness through effective corporate communications and marketing. Jo currently serves as vice president-corporate communications at CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. Previously she led corporate communications and content marketing at IHS Markit, the leading source of information and insight in critical areas that shape today's business landscape. Prior to that, she served in similar roles for other large organizations. Jo previously served on the IABC Colorado board in various roles, including chapter president. She is a passionate proponent of her profession and also greatly enjoys her work. Jo presents seminars on topics including corporate communication, the benefits of an inclusive workforce, leadership and personal career development. She also serves on the board of the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking (www.lcht.com). Jo holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Minot State University, Minot, North Dakota, and attended postgraduate studies in history at George Washington University, Washington, D.C. She invites you to be involved within the communications profession and to connect with her on Twitter (@josolonika) and LinkedIn (in/josolonika).

Sabrina Hall, Vice President Professional Development
Sabrina is an experienced communications professional with nearly 20 years of experience in content marketing and corporate communications. Her specialties include content strategy, communications planning and internal communications. Sabrina currently serves as content marketing manager for Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets, where she is responsible for all aspects of developing and implementing North American marketing campaigns. Prior to joining Arcadis, Sabrina spent 10 years as manager of organizational communications for Denver Water, where she managed the utility's internal communications program and was a leadership member of the brand journalism team. Before joining Denver Water, Sabrina had communication leadership roles in corporate, government and agency organizations. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Colorado State University and a master’s degree in applied communications from the University of Denver. Sabrina has been an active IABC member since 2013.

Cathy Beuten, Co-Vice President Membership
Cathy is a career-long communicator, starting as a clerk at the Rocky Mountain News, moving on to writing and editing for small newspapers, then returning to the Rocky as content editor and writer. She shifted to university communications in 2004, joining the University of Colorado Denver as communications specialist. She is now multimedia editor in University Relations for the CU Office of the President, where her responsibilities include managing the cu.edu website content, producing the monthly president's newsletter, posting compelling information about CU on social media sites, monitoring and responding to queries and concerns via email and on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, keeping up with tech and social trends, writing features and news stories and producing podcasts, video and photos. She is a big fan of family, friends, dogs, gardening and heavy metal music.