Our Crew

aha_traffic2At AHA, a partner works on every account. The buck stops with us and it’s important for our clients to know that when they choose us. We have a great crew at AHA and, like everything we do, the team we’ve built isn’t typical. We’re a little different and we like it that way.

We call our team the “Crew” for a reason. Much like a rowing crew or film & television crew, each person has specific strengths that they bring to their role. The combination of the right team working together on an account, initiative or campaign, and the blend of the right skill sets, expertise and experience for that initiative adds value for our clients.

We’ve created long-term, ongoing relationships with some of the best and brightest PR specialists, copywriters, interactive communicators, and online and graphic designers in the business. We build the right team for each client and/or project.

It’s all about putting together the right crew for your organization. They’re great at what they do, their talents and abilities are world-class and they are ready to contribute to your success. We’re proud of the crew that we’ve brought to AHA. Check out their bios and photos of each of them in “their natural habitat” below.

Ruth AtherleyRuth has developed, managed and implemented highly successful traditional and social media communications campaigns locally, nationally and internationally. She brings extensive media experience to her role at AHA. A former journalist, she has written for many national publications including Maclean’s, Chatelaine, Flare and The Globe and Mail.

Ruth’s ability to think creatively and act strategically is a powerful combination of skills that provides a strong foundation for the work done by AHA Creative Strategies. Ruth has the rare ability to focus on the core of the objective while supporting the big picture. Her always developing and evolving skill set allows her to work with clients to create a road map that provides a well-developed strategy supported by innovative and effective tactics with measurable results.

Ruth has spent the past decade immersed in online communication. As a specialist in this exciting and expanding area, Ruth balances a never-ending curiosity and interest in what is new and innovative online with a strategic approach.

In her spare time, Ruth is writing a trashy novel and likes to cook and entertain.

Paul HolmanPaul’s expertise in corporate communications provides AHA clients with a solid and well-thought-out approach to each facet of an event, project or campaign. With his editor’s attention to detail, analytical mind and strong commitment to exceeding expectations, Paul adds value to each project. A critical thinker, he examines every angle of a plan to ensure that each tactic being used will meet the specific objective of the initiative.

Paul brings a business perspective to creative projects, which allows the crew at AHA Creative Strategies to provide innovative public relations services to our clients, while working within the budget and other organizational constraints. Paul’s project management skills are world-class and deliver exceptional value to AHA clients.

An avid Karaoke buff, Paul also loves sports and gardening.


Charlotte Empey is an experienced, well-respected storyteller known for her ability to create powerful narratives that inspire, move and motivate.

In her role as AHA Toronto Bureau Chief, Charlotte helps to lead the agency’s brand journalism and branded content service areas. She works with clients to define communications goals and objectives and identify the audience’s psychographic, which is key to understanding who the audience is and and what type of stories will move them most. Then she develops a strategic plan and manages a team of cross-platform professionals to create stories that cut through the clutter and capture hearts, minds and the collective imagination.

A former magazine and newspaper journalist, as Editor-in-Chief of Metro English Canada, Charlotte managed seven daily newspapers across Canada, as well as the associated websites serving 15 major markets.

Prior to her role with Metro, Charlotte held the leadership roles of Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Living magazine for seven years, as well as Editor-in-Chief of Homemakers magazine, where she was responsible for redefining the editorial content of both brands over print, digital and broadcast platforms. Charlotte was Founding Editor of Modern Woman magazine and has held senior positions at Chatelaine and Flare magazines.

Other highlights of her illustrious career had her in the roles of creative director at MacLaren Advertising (now MacLaren McCann) and in academia, as Associate Dean, School of Creative and Performing Arts at Humber College.

Charlotte sits on the Canadian Board of Free the Children, and the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto.

Maryse is an enthusiastic PR practitioner and lecturer, with over 15 years in the industry. She has worked on communication campaigns in Asia, Europe and North America for a multitude of clients including Celestial Seasonings, Toyota, News Corporation and the United Nations. Maryse is the co-founder of the former award-winning PR agency Turtle & Hare Creative. She lived for several years in Tokyo where she worked for the Japanese partner of the Worldcom Group, a consortium of PR agencies worldwide. Maryse also conducts regular seminars and workshops on communication, media training and media relations for corporate clients and non-profit organizations. She has taught PR at Simon Fraser University, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, BCIT and Langara College.

Maryse has a degree in journalism from Concordia University and has earned her Masters degree in Mass Communications from University of Leicester. She is committed to serving her local community and has supported several local organizations over the years including the Cinderella Project, Volunteer Vancouver, the Children’s Hospital, A Loving Spoonful, The Canadian Mental Health Association, the Vancouver Fringe Festival and the Alliance for Arts and Culture.

Maryse loves snorkelling, travelling with her husband on their tandem bicycle, writing, yoga and meditation.

Laurie Hanley obtained her BA at the University of New Brunswick, with a major in Psychology, a minor in Spanish, and extensive study in French. She followed this up with the obvious – a Certificate of Excellence in Acting for Film and TV at Vancouver Film School. Her work experience has been as varied as her studies, with a constant theme shining through: each job has required a strong work ethic, excellent people skills and fine attention to detail. Laurie prides herself in her ability to think outside the box with ease and to quickly adapt to fresh surroundings. She applies all of these skills in her daily life and on each project she is involved with.

Her passions in life include her family, her work, all things film-related, cooking with eggnog, and frequent packing and unpacking. Laurie currently resides in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Lori SimeunovicDuring her 15-year career in communications, Lori has worked with a diverse range of clients, including technology, government, high fashion and tourism. From the runways of New York to the shores of Australia, Lori consistently delivered exceptional results.

With close to a decade of experience as an account director for large agencies in Calgary and Toronto, Lori decided to search out that elusive thing called work-life balance.

Committed to continuing her career path working with a well-respected and innovative boutique agency on world-class campaigns, Lori joined AHA Creative Strategies as East Coast (Toronto) Account Executive and Writer.

Away from work, Lori loves to hang out with her family, cook foods she can’t pronounce and attempt the odd triathlon.

sue-chiu-headshotA graphic and online/web designer with more than a decade of experience, Sue Chiu takes a collaborative approach to all projects. She is focused on clearly understanding the client’s needs and expectations and delivering exceptional results on time and on budget.

Sue holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UBC, a Business Administration certificate from BCIT, and a Senior Management certificate from the BCIT New Media Design and Web Development program, from which she graduated with distinction. She has worked on a wide range of multimedia projects including website development, video production, visual brand identities and print materials comprising of brochures, large-scale reports and catalogues.

When not in front of her laptop, Sue is an avid traveller, foodie and adrenaline junkie.

At age 10, Ryan Dawson set up a studio in his mother’s basement using her table lamps and an old VHS camcorder.  Since then, he has remained behind the lens, learned his craft and become a highly sought-after professional videographer. The bonus to that: he has seen a great deal of the world doing work he loves.

Ryan began his career shooting local news in Vancouver. This led him to the South Pacific where he covered breaking news for networks worldwide. There, he was witness to a coup in Fiji, a tsunami in the Solomon Islands, the Holi festival in India, and a lahar in New Zealand, among many other incredible events. Currently, Ryan continues to pursue his dream. He shoots television shows, world sporting events, corporate videos, current affairs documentaries and brand journalism videos for clients all over the globe.

Ryan graduated from the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s broadcast communication program. When not working, Ryan plays beach volleyball and is still trying reach his goal of tasting every beer on Earth.

Erika Hinze kick-started her career as a freelance journalist in Auckland, New Zealand, where she worked as a writer and reporter for a national radio station. In her spare time she developed a keen interest in covering breaking news events. With the help of a couple of seasoned scanner chasers and a fast driver, Erika quickly learned how to beat emergency crews – and more importantly, competing media outlets – to fire, crime and accident scenes.

In addition to working in radio, Erika has written numerous freelance articles which have appeared in The New Zealand HeraldConcrete Wave magazine, SugarcainEntertainment.com and TunnelTalk.com. She has also worked in some exotic areas of the world. In 2009, Erika travelled through India with a small crew, helping to field produce stories for New Zealand’s TV3. Most recently, she ventured to central Kalimantan on the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo to associate produce a segment about the depleting wild orangutan population. “Jungle Survivors” aired on Global TV’s 16X9: The Bigger Picture.

Along with her role as video producer/editor with the AHA Brand Journalism Team, Erika works as a freelance news writer for Global BC. On occasion, she also fills in as a traffic reporter, flying high above the Lower Mainland in a helicopter – providing reports for television and AM radio. Erika is a founding partner at Liquid City Productions, where she spearheads the production of corporate videos for public and private organizations. Through a range of corporate assignments, Erika has proven her ability to produce, report and edit video news releases in a quick turnaround, meeting tight deadlines and budgets.