Senior Advisors

  • marion_headshot marion mackenzie president

    Marion MacKenzie is an award-winning senior communications executive with global experience in both the corporate and consulting sectors, enjoying a particular focus on issues and stakeholder relations and strategic communications.

    She is particularly proud that GCI has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Companies Work For Within the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) both in 2015 and 2016 out of over a 1,000 applicants.

    Marion was Vice President, Corporate Communications, Nortel Networks, previously one of the world’s largest telecommunications providers, managing the Company’s communications during its 2003-2005 corporate financial restatement, independent review and related executive departures. She was a member of the Company’s Disclosure Committee as per Sarbanes-Oxley and Bill 196 compliance.  She was also responsible for orchestrating a global communications team to drive Nortel’s awareness, vision and strategy across a variety of stakeholder constituencies working with the company’s government, regulatory and investor relations teams.

    Prior to joining Nortel, Marion was Executive Vice President, GCI Group responsible for leading the Canadian corporate and consumer practices with a client list that included Amazon, Blockbuster, Dell, Direct Energy, Mattel, Nestlé, Six Continents, Sun Life Financial Group, Starbucks and Unilever. During this time she received two national awards for issues management programs and was responsible for overseeing the agency’s daily operations.

    As Principal, Boadicea Consulting she developed and executed issues management programs in the areas of consumer advocacy, women and violence and, disabled persons advocacy for the Federal Government and the Province of Ontario.  Marion counseled American Express, Baskin-Robbins, Durex and Federal Express.

    She holds a Master of Business Administration from the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Public Relations with Distinction from Mount Saint Vincent University.  She is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and holds her ICD.D. Certification.  Marion is also graduate of the Rotman “Judy Project” for women executive leaders and a member of the International Women’s Forum (IWF).

    Marion is currently Honourary Co-Chair of the Rexall OneWalk for Cancer in benefit of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and a Team Leader for the Ryerson Lifeline Syria Challenge.  She is also an Advisory Board member for the Seneca Public Relations-Corporate Communications program.


  • Ed Arundell ed arundell senior counsellor, public & corporate affairs

    With leadership experience in consulting firms and a keen understanding of success in both the public and private sectors, Ed brings to his clients 30 years of experience in general management, corporate communications, public sector operations, media relations, public affairs, crisis communications, and health policy.

    Ed works with GCI Communications on assignments in corporate, health and crisis communication as well as issues management and public affairs.

    Ed is motivated to work at the borders of the public, private, and community sectors. He applies his expertise in communications to help organizations increase their mutual understanding, improve their organizational effectiveness and achieve better outcomes. He has led a multi-million dollar multinational consulting office and has been a senior executive both in Canada’s largest public sector ministries and in private global firms. He has experience in the public sector, at both the federal and provincial levels, as a Chief of Staff to ministers of health and industry science and technology and as Communications Director for a provincial premier. He has directed integrated communications and public affairs campaigns domestically and globally.

    Ed has a B.A. from Trent University (Politics) and a Master of Science in Management from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.  As a Commonwealth Scholar, he pursued graduate studies in Political Science at the University of Western Australia. Ed also sits on three environmental and cultural community sector Boards.

  • Denise Brunsdon denise brunsdon counsellor, digital public affairs

    Denise Brunsdon is passionate about the power of digital communication in business, law and politics. She is a leading social media commentator whose advice is featured in such publications as the Toronto Star and Canadian Business Magazine; Denise has also researched and published academically and commercially on digital trends, the legal or social implications of digital technology, as well as the differences in social media use by gender.

    She has been a guest lecturer to both the McGill University Department of Political Science and Ted Rogers School of Management.

    She has also worked extensively in the political arena. Denise has taken on senior communications and digital roles for a variety of political campaigns in British Columbia, Ontario and at the federal level. She has worked for Christy Clark, Stéphane Dion, Gerard Kennedy, and Paul Martin. Denise has worked both campaign side and government side, including in the Office of the Prime Minister. Denise was also a Muchmusic Blog Correspondent in the 2008 Federal Election.

    At GCI, she has developed social media strategy and industry-contoured measurement and tracking systems to manage online risk, controversial product or policy rollouts and crises response for a range of consumer, technology and public affairs clients. Denise took a brief secondment from GCI to learn about and support digital campaign efforts on Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

    Born in Lethbridge, Denise has lived and worked in Vancouver, Victoria, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, but now resides in London. Denise holds a BA in Economics from McGill University. @Brunsdon


  • Celeste Chiasson celeste chiasson Senior Counsellor, healthcare

    Celeste is a senior public relations strategist with 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical communications working for multinational agencies and pharmaceutical companies. Celeste has specialty skills across a broad range of areas, most notably public relations launches and stakeholder / healthcare professional training and facilitation.

    Celeste provides senior counsel to pharmaceutical companies in the Canadian marketplace.  Her pharmaceutical therapeutic experience includes multiple sclerosis, oncology, vaccines (meningitis and influenza), migraine, asthma, ulceratic colitis, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiology, mental health (schizophrenia and depression), Alzheimer’s, obesity, COPD, Hepatitis, infant nutrition, chronic pain, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, contraception, female sexual dysfunction and several natural medicines.

    Prior to joining GCI Canada, Celeste managed her own consulting business and spent almost 10 years at Hill & Knowlton Canada (H+K Strategies) where she held senior positions in Toronto, London (UK) and Montreal including Senior Vice President and Practice Leader overseeing the national health practice, leading new business development and providing thought leadership across the company.  Celeste has also worked at Novartis Pharma Canada, National Public Relations, Merck Sharp & Dohme UK, Veritas Communications and Health Canada (Communications Directorate).

    Celeste studied in the Bachelor of Science Program at Saint Francis Xavier University (Nova Scotia) and received her Bachelor of Public Relations Degree at Mount Saint Vincent University (Nova Scotia) in 1994.  She currently resides in Oakville (Toronto), Ontario.

  • Stephanie Engel Stephanie Engel senior vice president, consumer

    Stephanie Engel is a strategic and creative communications professional with 18 years of experience in the public relations and marketing field, within both corporate and agency environments. She has strong background and interest in consumer packaged goods, particularly retail, food and beverage, and health and wellness, and has received local, national and international industry awards for her work.

    Prior to joining GCI, Stephanie was a Vice-President at an independent PR firm in Toronto where she was responsible for leading the consumer practice. She worked with key brands including Walmart, Coty, Nestlé, Johnson & Johnson, Tangerine (formerly ING DIRECT Canada), Planet Fitness, Atkins Nutritionals Inc., and Kellogg’s. Client programs were wide and varied and included product launches, market entries, rebranding, influencer seeding and social media integration.

    Earlier in her career, Stephanie developed and executed communication plans for a variety of high profile brands including Evian, Bayer, and Coca-Cola. She also worked in-house at international pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca, where she managed external communications and stakeholder relations for products in the respiratory, oncology, gastroenterology and central nervous systems areas.

    Stephanie just completed a one-year term as President of IABC/Toronto, the GTA-based chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, also the largest chapter worldwide, and holds their accreditation. Stephanie has an Honours Bachelor of Arts from McGill University and a Post Graduate Certificate in Public Relations from Humber College.

  • Brenda Gardiner brenda gardiner vice president finance & operations

    Brenda Gardiner is a seasoned financial professional who has held increasingly senior roles in organizations such as Ryder and Metro Newspapers Canada. Brenda concentrates on bringing a strategic focus and driving excellence and accountability in process and performance in the finance and operations field. A professional accountant with an MBA, Brenda brings a wealth of education and experience to any role she tackles.

    Brenda Gardiner is a seasoned financial professional who has held increasingly senior roles throughout her career.  Brenda brings a strategic focus and drives excellence and accountability in process and performance in the finance and operations field.

    Brenda brings a wealth of education and senior level experience in different industries to drive change and best in class performance at GCI.  Successfully ensuring compliance with the Sarbanes Oxley framework has been one of the key priorities Brenda has worked on during her tenure so far at GCI.

    Prior to working at GCI, Brenda was with Metro News Canada as Director of Finance and CFO.  At Metro, Brenda was an integral part of the leadership team and was instrumental in launching Metro into new markets along with building the finance team and working on potential acquisitions.

    Prior to working at Metro News Canada, Brenda was with Ryder Logistics and Transportation.  During her twelve years at Ryder, Brenda worked her way up within the finance organization to the role of CFO for Canada for both the logistics and transportation sides of the business.  During this time Brenda was exposed to corporate strategy, US and Canadian GAAP reporting and matrix organization development as well as working for a year in Montreal directly on a large client project implementation.  During her final year at Ryder, Brenda moved into the Corporate Development area and worked on merger and acquisition projects.

    Brenda holds an MBA from Laurentian University and is a Chartered Professional Accountant.  Brenda is currently pursuing a post-graduate law diploma from the University of London, UK.   Brenda currently resides in Toronto.

  • Tara McCarthy tara mccarthy senior counsellor & creative director

    With two decades of experience in lifestyle PR, Tara’s expertise covers a diverse range of industries including: travel, hospitality, retail, fashion and beauty, home décor and improvement, health and fitness, sports and entertainment and consumer packaged goods. She has worked on many of the world’s best loved consumer brands, launching many into Canada, and has helped to transform new brands into household names.

    Tara has led numerous high profile programs that have led to sales and share gains, often becoming best practices exported to foreign markets. Prior to joining GCI Canada, Tara held executive leadership roles in several top agencies, including one that was named IABC Toronto Agency of the year four times during her tenure.

    Tara has contributed her skills to numerous charities ranging from NBA player Vince Carter’s Embassy of Hope to Your Life Counts, a national charity dedicated to suicide prevention. A program implemented for Your Life Counts resulted in government policy change with the introduction of a new bill establishing the first framework for suicide prevention in Canada.



  • Sheila Willis sheila willis senior counsellor, public & corporate affairs

    With a strong background in several government ministries, Sheila advises clients on legislative and policy matters, procurement processes, and issues management.

    Sheila brings particular expertise in environmental matters, land use planning, utility management and issues affecting resource-based industries.

    Sheila was most recently president, CEO and chair of the board of the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA), a water and waste water utility managing over three billion dollars in assets for municipal and private sector clients. At OCWA, Sheila successfully introduced advanced technology and comprehensive operations and maintenance systems and secured 95% of the Ontario market. Previously, Sheila was assistant deputy minister, Ministry of the Environment and Energy, having responsibility for approvals, inspections and enforcement and dealing with controversial matters such as land use planning, hazardous waste management and great lakes rehabilitation.

    As assistant deputy minister for Northern Development and Mines and the Ontario Women’s Directorate, Sheila has been involved in a wide range of government policy and planning initiatives in economic development, social services, health and education.

    Sheila is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, faculty of environmental studies, York University and guest lecturer at the Rotman School of Management.