Allerton Hill Consulting

Success through smart strategy & personal service.

Building Successful Partnerships

since 1981

With over 30 years in the business, Allerton Hill Consulting has the expertise and track record to craft a successful communications plan for your school. 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.

Joel Gagne


“I’ve known Joel Gagne for over a decade and have worked closely with him on numerous projects and engagements. He is a person of character, integrity, and keen strategic acumen. I have the highest respect for him and recommend him without reservation. Any team is better with him on it.”
– Dorie Clark, Clark Strategic Communications

Author of the newly-released Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press)

As a partner of Allerton Hill Consulting, 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 Forbes, Harvard 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


“Allerton Hill helped us design and implement a very sophisticated way of reaching our community. Their methods are based on data and they are sensitive to helping communities build long-term relationships so that we have success for many years. They are sensitive and respectful of a community and are expert enough to tailor strategies so that what works for Upper Arlington matches what we really need.”

Paul Imhoff, Superintendent of Upper Arlington City Schools Ohio

Carole Dorn-Bell brings more than 20 years of public policy and campaign experience to Allerton Hill Consulting. 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

Outreach Strategist

“Allerton Hill has provided effective and strategic communications for Princeton for several years now. You cannot replace the good will that comes with communicating effectively with your public.”
– Dr. Gary Pack
Former Superintendent of the Princeton City Schools

Jennifer has spent 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 Consulting 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. It should come as no surprise that she is an avid Buckeye’s fan, and she also loves golden retrievers and travels with her family to the Florida Panhandle and Disney World every chance she gets.

Amanda Morris

Outreach Specialist

“Better than almost every community outreach firm, [Allerton Hill] realizes that every segment of the population — including those who don’t have kids in the schools — must be heard for schools to succeed.”
— Dr. Melissa Conrath
Former Superintendent of Worthington City Schools

As a lifelong supporter of public education, Amanda is an expert in marketing and organizational communication and uses these skills to help school districts achieve their goals.  With more than 14 years of experience in some of the largest and most diverse public school districts in Ohio, she understands the important role that communications serves in gaining public support, sharing important initiatives with staff and parents and ensuring students are part of the solutions you seek.

From social media to videos, crisis communications, media relations, niche marketing campaigns and more Amanda has seen, and implemented, it all successfully.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interpersonal Communications from Bowling Green State University and a Master’s of Science degree in Marketing and Communications Management from Franklin University.

Josephine McKenrick

Outreach Specialist

Josephine has worked on numerous high profile public relations and marketing campaigns including anti-tobacco and foster care. She combines her work with these highly public private sector campaigns with her expertise in public school communications and brings the best of both to yield excellent and cutting-edge results. She created award-winning work at Mariemont City Schools and contributed to the success and growth of her high school alma mater, Ursuline Academy.

Josephine graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, Public Relations. She remembers the day when a college email account was required to open a Facebook account and when editing a paper meant employing your trusty bottle of Wite-Out or completely retyping the page.

Josephine has a Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree from the University of Cincinnati. She is a strong advocate for those with mental illness, for children and for our National Parks. She was born in the suburbs of Chicago, and has lived in San Diego, Denmark, the Netherlands and England. She resides in Cincinnati with her husband, Andy, and their daughter, Juniper.

Steve Avakian

Contributing Writer

“Allerton Hill Consulting was a great partner to work with, and enabled us to communicate more effectively with all community stakeholders.”
— Dr. Jenny Hooie
Former Interim Superintendent of Olentangy Local Schools

Contributing writer Steve Avakian brings nearly a half century of school marketing experience to Allerton Hill clients, including more than $2 billion in levy and bond issue success on behalf of architects and other privately funded interests.  Avakian earned his Master’s Degree from  Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism before embarking on a newspaper career and hands-on campaign work. Those labors included setting a record in 1980 for managing a campaign that won by the largest margin in the 20th and 21st centuries (John Glenn 1980).

Before launching a practice specializing in community outreach, Avakian served Senator Glenn for five years as Glenn’s press secretary in Washington, where he was vice president of the U.S. Senate Press Secretaries Association.

There isn’t a region in the State of Ohio that has not seen the product of Steve’s work.  For several decades he served schools districts as head of a consulting firm that was a predecessor to Allerton Hill.  Steve Avakian is a key member of the Allerton Hill strategic team that has partnered successfully with districts throughout the Buckeye State.

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