Our History

The 1960s

The Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) Hamilton was founded in the mid-1960’s, when Bill Cockman, then editor of Westinghouse News, called together other colleagues, most of them also from local industry. The education sector was well represented by Charles “Mac” McNair of Mohawk College, who along with Mr. Cockman, was an Honorary Life Member of CPRS Hamilton.

The group met socially for lunch in local restaurants. Gradually, these luncheons evolved into educational exercises as various organizations hosted the get-together and conducted tours of their premises. Host organizations that welcomed guests included the Hamilton Automobile Club, the Canadian Red Cross, McMaster University, the Hamilton Board of Education and Mohawk College.

Bill Cockman recalled that the group sometimes referred to itself as “the Flying Squad”. “This is because we were always flying from one location to another.” He also said the meetings produced some good brainstorming sessions that were educational and served to promote the value of public relations in the community.

The 1970s and 1980s

Mr. Cockman earned his Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Canadian Public Relations Society in 1973 as one of many Hamilton CPRS members who commuted to Toronto for CPRS meetings.

A growing desire for a formal association bore fruit in 1974 when Dofasco public relations director Jean Cormier came forward with seed money. The Hamilton Public Relations Association (HPRA) was formed and he was elected its first president, followed by other PR leaders, Peter Soderquest, Jessica Davenport and Juliette Allan.

By 1988, the practice of public relations had broadened widely in the region and members were expressing a desire for wider professional development opportunities. At the same time, the Canadian Public Relations Society viewed Hamilton as a city with a solid, respected reputation for public relations expertise with much to share with the rest of the country. Under the leadership of then president Bob Strachan, past president Mario Bernardi and director (and 1989-90 President) Tim Tempest, formal affiliation with CPRS was approved at the June 1988 annual general meeting.

The 1990s - Present

In 1989, director (and 1991-92 president) Suzanne Cornforth, APR, proposed an awards program recognizing excellence in public relations. By April 1990, Ms. Cornforth had become co-chair, along with director (and 1992-93 president) Bill Gair, of the first Pinnacle Awards, which were held on February 19, 1991. Working with then-president Victor Disyak, Ms. Cornforth and Mr. Gair coordinated the talent and hard work of many members in the launch of a permanent salute to public relations in the Hamilton-Wentworth, Halton and Niagara regions.

In recent years, CPRS Hamilton has continued to expand its membership and work towards offering members the region’s best opportunities for professional development and recognition. The board of directors continues its pursuit of excellence in public relations with an ongoing commitment to CPRS members and to the advancement of the public relations profession at large.

Past Presidents

2019-20 Dustin Manley, APR & Christine Szustaczek , APR
2018-19 Dan Muys, APR & Dustin Manley, APR, CMP
2017-18 Mark Gregory & Dan Muys, APR
2016-17 Lisa Stocco, APR & Mark Gregory
2015-16 Alex Sévigny, APR & Lisa Stocco, APR
2014-15 Bob Deans, APR & Alex Sévigny, APR
2013-14 Ginny Jones, APR, FCPRS
2012-13 Ginny Jones, APR, FCPRS
2011-12 Nancy Hutton, APR
2010-11 Nancy Hutton, APR
2009-10 Liliana Busnello, APR
2008-09 Liliana Busnello, APR
2007-08 Carleen Carroll, APR, FCPRS
2006-07 Carleen Carroll, APR, FCPRS
2005-06 Carleen Carroll, APR, FCPRS

2004-05 Darrell Neufeld, APR
2003-04 Kimberlee Lambe
2002-03 Peter Reesor
2001-02 Gordon Neufeld, APR
2000-01 Jeff Valentin, APR
1999-00 Ruth Edgett, APR
1998-99 Tony Iavarone APR, FCPRS
1997-98 Alan P. Clay, APR, FCPRS
1996-97 Noel Robb, APR
1995-96 Jeffrey C. Martin, APR, FCPRS
1994-95 Tricia Hellingman, APR
1993-94 Jane Allision, APR, FCPRS
1992-93 Bill Gair

1991-92 Suzanne Cornforth, APR
1990-91 Victor Disyak
1989-90 Tim Tempest
1988-89 Bob Strachan
1987-88 Mario Bernardi
1986-87 Linda McMillan
1985-86 Peter Earle
1984-85 Garry Smith
1983-84 Joe Barbara
1982-83 Joe Barbara
1981-82 Peter Hill
1980-81 Ron Dennis
1979-80 Ian Yanover
1978-79 Wayne McCraney
1977-78 Julliette Allan Gillespie
1976-77 Jessica Davenport
1975-76 Peter Soderquest