With over 40 years in the business, Allerton Hill Communications has the expertise and track record to craft a successful engagement strategy for your school. This track record has come with decades of success in helping school districts navigate their most challenging public engagements. With personal attention to every detail of your message, we create solutions that are tailored to your specific needs and demographics. We offer no cookie cutter pitches but rather unique strategies that translate confusing data and complicated issues into a story that connects and rallies your community. Many of our clients have been with us for a decade or longer. They know us and we work hard to know them. Our relationships last because we make real connections that create results with a significant, long-term impact.


Carole Dorn-Bell, Allerton Hill Consulting Partner

Carole Dorn-Bell

Chief Operations Officer

Jennifer Economus, Allerton Hill Consulting Partner

Jennifer Economus

VP of Strategy

Gianna Harrison

Director of Client Strategy & Social Media

Becka Mayr, Allerton Hill Consulting

Becka Mayr

Director of Client Strategy

Kaitlin Hall

Director of Client Strategy & Writer

Allerton Hill Communications logo

Chris Benton

Business Operations Manager

Kristen Bagwell

Kristen Bagwell

Social Media Strategist

Christina Godsey, Allerton Hill Communications

Christina Godsey

Sr. Social Media Strategist

Rachel Gunn, Allerton Hill Communications

Rachel Gunn

Social Media Strategist

Melissa Hacker, Allerton Hill

Melissa Hacker

Social Media Strategist

Amy Hayward

Amy Hayward

Social Media Strategist

Kesha Phillips, Allerton Hill Consulting

Kesha Phillips

Graphic Designer

Mike Schmidt, Allerton Hill Consulting

Mike Schmidt

Graphic Designer

Cyndi Smith, Allerton Hill Communications

Cyndi Smith

Sr. Social Media Strategist

Sarah Trindade, Allerton Hill Communications

Sarah Trindade

Social Media Manager

Mark Van Horn, Allerton Hill Consulting

Mark Van Horn


Heidi Winiecki

Social Media Strategist

Joel Gagne, CEO

As a partner of Allerton Hill Communications, Joel Gagne is responsible for building its designation as a leader in communications and marketing for K-12 schools and public entities. His vast experience and vision has not only secured many victories but also won the firm a roster of clients that rely on long-term partnerships to stay one step ahead of opposition and marketing missteps. As technology continues to drive dialog towards new approaches and conversational spheres, Joel has led Allerton Hill’s charge to become the foremost expert on the impact & utility of social media in public education.

Joel’s expertise comes from a range of experience in politics, policy-making, and campaigns. For 25 years, Joel worked on campaigns at every level with positions on multiple presidential campaigns, the US Senate, state governorships, mayoral contests and even abroad. He knows how to run and win campaigns and, as an elected school board member in Hull, MA, for 3 years, he knows firsthand what school districts are facing today.

Joel received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Northeastern University in Boston, MA, where he did Co-operative education in the Massachusetts State House, United States House of Representatives, the Irish Parliament, and the White House. Joel also has received his masters in Liberal Arts at Harvard Extension School, the conflict resolution program at Harvard and the University of Chicago’s creative writing program.

With this broad scope of knowledge and experience, Joel is in high demand for communication and marketing campaigns throughout the country. He was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Michigan as well as having conducted a roundtable lecture series at the University of Dayton. Joel’s opinion pieces regarding education, policy-making, and communications are often featured on Huffington Post and he has been interviewed by ForbesHarvard Business Review and in the book, Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future by Dorie Clark.

Joel is a former competitive chess player, a lover of board games and is an avid fan of all things Boston/New England Sports.

In addition to our own blog here at, Joel is a regular contributor to Huffington Post’s Education blog. To see his entire archive of HuffPost articles, click here.

Carole Dorn-Bell, Chief Operations Officer

Carole Dorn-Bell brings more than 20 years of public policy and campaign experience to Allerton Hill Communications. Her reputation as an expert in developing outreach strategies for organizations is well respected in both the political and educational communities. Her focus on creating multi-pronged approaches for critical issues empowers our clients to utilize all of their resources for maximum impact with key demographics.

Carole is a native Ohioan with a B.S. in English Literature from the University of Cincinnati and a M.A. in Public Policy and Management from  Ohio State University. Her initial work in public policy was as a staff writer for the majority leader of the Michigan Senate. From there she transitioned back to working in Ohio, holding numerous communications positions for more than 10 years.

In recent years, Carole has turned her focus to education and working with school districts to find their voice and garner both support and credibility on hot button issues. In addition to her partnership with Allerton Hill, Carole is an advocate for dyslexics students and services. She is an avid fan of live theater and has a LEGOS collection that is museum-worthy.

Jennifer Economus, VP of Strategy

Jennifer has spent over 20 years in government and non-profit service including as a legislative aide for Assistant Majority Leader of the Ohio House of Representatives, as a lobbyist and grassroots coordinator for the Ohio School Boards Association, and as a communication consultant for public entities. Her love for civics started early when she volunteered for a local congressional campaign at the age of 8. Since then, she’s volunteered on several candidate campaigns and was the levy chairperson for her own local school district.

Jennifer has extensive experience in grassroots advocacy and creating strategy, as well as advocating in both the legislative and executive branches on behalf of client interests. She’s worked on both local and statewide ballot issues and candidate campaigns and has developed outreach strategies and communication plans for a variety of interests from the local, state and national levels with proven success.

She joined Allerton Hill Communications in 2010 and specializes in a full range of executive-level consulting and communications strategies and services for various public entities. She has extensive experience in communications, media relations, media training, crisis management, public affairs, and digital and social media.

Jennifer is a native Ohioan and grew up in Boardman. She has a B.A. in Communication from The Ohio State University and M.A. in Public Policy and Management from The Ohio State University. She is an avid Buckeyes fan and also loves cheering on her daughter at her high school and club soccer games. She also loves golden retrievers and travels with her family to the Florida Panhandle (30a!) and Disney World every chance she gets.

Becka Mayr, Director of Client Strategy

Becka graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a business degree, marketing concentration and psychology minor. Her marketing experience has included creating and implementing plans for multiple corporate clients.

Becka found her calling when she was able to combine her business degree, marketing experience and passion for kids and education. She has held leadership roles of multiple committees for Dublin Schools. She is especially proud to have chaired successful levy campaigns in 2012 and 2018.

Throughout her years as a community leader, she has experienced the benefits of Allerton Hill Communications. As part of the AHC Team, she is excited to share these many impactful communication tools with other school districts and help them to better connect with their communities.