The comms and public affairs professionals on the 'Women in Westminster Top 100’ list

Women working in comms and public affairs are among the most inspirational and influential female figures in the corridors of power, according to a report released this week.

Clockwise, from top left: Carrie Symonds, Cleo Watson, Elin de Zoete, Helen Bower-Easton, Jo Field, Katie Perrior, Laura Sainsbury, Nikki da Costa (Pic credit: Various via The House magazine, DODS Group)
Clockwise, from top left: Carrie Symonds, Cleo Watson, Elin de Zoete, Helen Bower-Easton, Jo Field, Katie Perrior, Laura Sainsbury, Nikki da Costa (Pic credit: Various via The House magazine, DODS Group)

The Women in Westminster: The 100 list, which was released by The House magazine following International Women’s Day last Sunday, celebrates the achievements and influence of women at the heart of the British political establishment.

It was drawn up by a judging panel of MPs, peers, lobby journalists, senior civil servants, public affairs professionals and political activists.

PRWeek takes a look at the comms and public affairs figures on the list:

Helen Bower-Easton

Pic credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA via The House magazine, DODS Group
After several years working in the Number 10 press office, she became the first woman to serve as the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson, when David Cameron was in office.

Bower-Easton, who received a CBE in Cameron’s resignation honours list, has been director of comms at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since 2017.

Nikki da Costa

Pic credit: The House magazine, DODS Group
After working as a government relations manager at Serco, she joined lobbying firm Bellenden as an associate director and rose to become managing director of public affairs there.

She left to become director of legislative affairs at Number 10 when Theresa May was PM, before leaving to become senior counsel at the Cicero Group. Da Costa left the agency to return to Number 10, as director of legislative affairs, last year.

Jo Field

Pic credit: Mike Garnett via The House magazine, DODS Group
Founder of JFG Communications, and a CIPR fellow and trainer, Field founded JFG Communications in 2016 after almost a decade working at Transport for London, where she was head of campaigns, comms and stakeholder engagement.

Working with Labour MP Ruth Cadbury, Field helped secure support to set up the first All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Transport in 2016.

Katie Perrior

Pic credit: The House magazine, DODS Group
In 2016 she became the first woman to hold the position of director of comms at Number 10. Perrior had first worked with Theresa May in 2002, when she was a senior media advisor to the Conservative Party and the future PM was its chair.

Perrior held senior comms roles at ITV and Channel 4 before co-founding iNHouse Communications in 2006. The agency handled the PR for Boris Johnson's successful 2008 London Mayoral campaign, and Perrior has been chair of iNHouse Communications since leaving Number 10 in May 2017.

Laura Sainsbury

Pic credit: The House magazine, DODS Group
Chair of the Women in Public Affairs Committee, Sainsbury joined the Royal Bank of Scotland’s public affairs team last month after five years at FTI Consulting, where she was director of public affairs.

Prior to that, she was a senior account manager at Newington Communications.

Carrie Symonds

Pic credit: Yui Mok/PA via The House magazine, DODS Group
Her early career included brief stints at Lansons Communications, where she was a trainee public affairs executive, and Mulberry Marketing Communications, where she was an account executive.

Symonds went on to work as a special adviser to culture secretary John Whittingdale, and former communities secretary Sajid Javid, before becoming the Conservative Party’s director of comms in 2017. Symonds is now a senior adviser at not-for-profit conservation organisation Oceana, where she is part of the international marketing comms team.

Cleo Watson

Pic credit: Jonathan Brady/PA via The House magazine, DODS Group
A former head of outreach for Vote Leave, she went on to become an associate at corporate affairs specialist the Blakeney Group before working in the Number 10 Policy Unit during Theresa May’s premiership.

Watson is now the head of the prime minister’s priorities and domestic campaigns at Downing Street and leads a taskforce to fast-track new Northern female Tory MPs from the 2019 intake into government roles.

Elin de Zoete

Pic credit: Denizen Photography via The House magazine, DODS Group
Managing director of Political Lobbying and Media Relations, where she has worked for more than a decade.

De Zoete is also an executive committee member of the Public Affairs Board, and a member of the Institute of Directors.


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