Board of Directors

Board Positions & Role Descriptions

Chip Bush


A 27-year veteran of The Coca-Cola Company, Chip (IABC Atlanta) is a manager in the Strategic Security function. His responsibilities include administration of global business resilience tools, including incident management, emergency notification, and business continuity. He has served on the company’s Global Policy Standards Committee, and was a member of the Associate Advocacy Team for Workplace 2020, a multi-year initiative to reinvent the on-campus working experience. Chip holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia with a major in magazines and a minor in biology and chemistry. (Yes, there is a story there.) He held numerous board positions with IABC Atlanta, served two terms as Grants Chair for the Southern Region and was a member of the International Student Relations committee at IABC headquarters. Chip received the 2008 IABC Atlanta President’s Award for his financial work with the chapter.

Mary Hardin Francis

Vice Chair

Mary (IABC Houston) is President of Hardin-Francis Enterprises, LLC, an integrated, creative, strategic marketing communication agency that has been the recipient of multiple Bronze and Silver Quill Awards.

Working with a large number of clients in various industries for over 25 years, the firm specializes in branding, web design and development, internet marketing, advertising and project management. Mary was a partner at Eventions, an event-planning company, and Director of Media Relations for the Houston Public Library System prior to founding Hardin-Francis. She also taught in the Visual Communications Department at Lone Star College and provides marketing communication for charitable organizations in Houston.

Mary has been involved with the Southern Region since she created the website for Align ’09, the region conference held in Houston. In addition, Mary chaired one of the 2013 mini-conferences, served as Southern Region Portfolio Conference Director and is the current Silver Quill Chair. She is an IABC Houston past president and remains active in the local chapter. A native Houstonian (one of the few left still living there), Mary is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Journalism degree and Marketing specialization.

Laura Piper


Laura (IABC Dallas) brings more than 18 years of professional communications experience to her role as Secretary for the IABC’s Southern Region. Laura’s internal and external communications experience spans non-profit, government, private and public organizations. Currently, she is Communications Manager at Pioneer Natural Resources, where she supervises a team of three in the creative services group. She oversees web content development, corporate photography, video and multimedia services, graphics support and advertising, representing corporate communications interests while providing guidance to internal departments for program promotion initiative awareness and messaging. Prior to Pioneer, Laura worked for Thousand Trails, a membership campground company, the Richardson Independent School District and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Her areas of specialty include writing, editing, strategic planning, problem solving and leading a team. Laura has an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, a master’s degree from The Florida State University and has completed coursework on a master’s degree in journalism at Indiana University. In May 2014, she completed the Strategic Communications Management certificate program at Ithaca College.

Donna Itzoe

VP, Finance & Treasurer

Donna Itzoe (IABC Dallas) is Vice President Marketing at Envision Healthcare. Prior to joining Envision, Donna led the Digital and Social Media team and headed the Interactive Marketing and Creative Design team at Raytheon’s IIS division. Prior to joining Raytheon, Itzoe was Director of Corporate Communications at Verizon, where she held increasing levels of responsibility from 2001-2012. In her most recent role, she led online strategies for the company’s digital presence.

Before working at Verizon, Itzoe worked at EDS in the Financial Communications organization from 1995-2001, assuming the leadership role of that group in 1997. In 2001, she was recruited by the Internet Marketing firm, imc2, to develop and lead its communication strategy. She was president of the IABC Dallas chapter in 2010 and a director for several years. She was also the chapter’s 2003 Communicator of the Year, the group’s highest honor. She is a three-time IABC All-Star speaker and has won numerous industry awards and recognitions.  Most recently, her leadership on Verizon’s Intranet redesign resulted in recognition as one of the Top Ten Intranets in the World by the acclaimed Nielsen Norman Group. She received a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Mercer University and a master’s degree in Public Communication from Georgia State University. 

Angela Byers

VP, Regional Growth & Development

Always up for adventure, Angela (IABC Tulsa) built her own powerful and vibrant communications agency from the ground up. Equipped with 10 years of experience in corporate communications, Angela launched Byers Creative. Today, her firm serves more than 100 clients, including several Fortune 500 companies. As the agency’s founder and principal, Angela is a big picture thinker, charting a bold course ahead for her business while thoughtfully caring for her employees and clients.

Angela has previously served as president of IABC Tulsa. Her honors include IABC Tulsa’s Professional of the Year in 2015, Tulsa Chamber Small Business Person of the Year, 2015 Women of Distinction, Byers Creative – One of Tulsa’s Best Places to Work, and the IABC Leon Bolen Service Award in 2013. Angela was a featured speaker at the 2015 IABC World Conference.

Paul Lindsley, ABC

VP, Chapter Relations

An Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) with more than 20 years of experience, Paul (Nashville IABC) has strategically managed corporate communications, public relations, media relations, community relations, crisis communication, reputation management and executive communications in both the hospitality and health care industries in Nashville. Paul is Vice President of Public Relations at Phase 3 Marketing and Communications, a full service agency with offices in Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Charleston and Dallas. Previously, Paul served as Communications Manager at HealthStream in Nashville, as well as Director of Communications at Saint Thomas Hospital for ten years. Paul started his PR career at Opryland Hotels/Gaylord Entertainment as Senior Manager of Communications promoting the Nashville property, as well as pre-opening PR efforts for Gaylord Hotels in Florida, Texas and Washington D.C.

Paul began his career in TV news working as a photographer, reporter, producer and assignment manager at WAAY TV in Huntsville, Alabama, and then Assignment Manager at Fox 13 in Memphis, Tennessee. Paul earned a BS in Broadcast Journalism from Troy University and a Master of Arts in Corporate Communication from Austin Peay State University. Paul has served the Nashville IABC Chapter for the last ten years, as president, vice president of communications, sponsorships and education.

Mary Ellen Gitachu

VP, Communications

Mary Ellen (Austin IABC), is an award-winning, results-driven Communications Leader. She has more than 20 years of expertise in developing sound strategies to align internal employee communications venues, including innovative brand identity, social media and blogs, to support organizational goals and desired cultural change. Mary Ellen’s media relations, corporate and internal communications achievements come from a diverse career with global companies like Dell, Motorola and Freescale Semiconductor. She served as VP of Communications on the Chapter Executive Board for National Black MBA Association – Austin Chapter and is actively involved with the IABC, Austin Chapter. Currently, Mary Ellen is Director, Internal Communications at Time Warner Cable. As a Boston native, Mary Ellen earned both a Master’s degree in Journalism and Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Northeastern University. 

Patrick Cobb

VP, Leadership Development

Patrick (IABC South Carolina) is the Communications and Voter Engagement Director for AARP South Carolina, a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for people 50 and over. In this role, he manages AARP South Carolina’s communication strategies and voter engagement activities – a true political junkie.

He has worked on three AARP early state primary campaigns and has met just about anyone running for President. Over the years, he has worked on numerous state level campaigns including home and community based services, passage of the cigarette tax for Medicaid, consumer issues including predatory lending, and consumer fraud.

Patrick is a graduate of Appalachian State University (Go Apps!) with more than 28 years with non-profit communications experience. Patrick served as the 2015 President of the IABC South Carolina chapter and has been active as a board member serving in numerous leadership roles. He is also a 2016 graduate of Leadership South Carolina.

Julie Ludwig, ABC

Past Chair

Julie (IABC Colorado) is the Global Communications Manager for RGL Forensics, a multidisciplinary forensic accounting and consulting firm, where she guides both the internal and external communications functions for the company. She has worked both in-house and in agencies providing communications, marketing, marketing operations and knowledge management for business-to-business and professional services companies for 14 years. In recognition of her professional and creative excellence, she received Gold, Silver and Bronze Quill awards. She has served on the IABC Southern Region Board since 2012. She has also taken an active role in IABC Colorado’s leadership, creating solid strategic planning and sound budgeting processes for the chapter while serving on the board of directors from 2008 to 2012. Julie graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Speech Communication from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.