About Us


Amy Leonard is the Founder of Denford Associates and has over 20 years of experience in communications. She has worked for a global communications agency, in-house as Director of Corporate Affairs for a Government agency, and directly for Cabinet Ministers. Amy began her career in broadcasting, working at the BBC on national and local radio.

Amy set up Denford Associates in 2011, with a view to creating a specialist communications agency that focused on education and helping organisations articulate a clear set of messages that resonate with mainstream audiences. She specialises in working with senior teams, providing advice and hands-on support to Chief Executives and Chairmen on an organisation’s positioning and reputation management. 


Amy is also the Chief Executive of The Talent Foundry, a social mobility charity that specialises in delivering employability programmes on behalf of UK corporates. Every year the charity works with over 80,000 young people from a network of 1,300 state secondary. Denford Associates provides pro bono PR to the trust.


Gina Malatesta and Amy have worked together for many years, and Gina joins Denford Associates from the Department for Education. Gina has worked in Government Communications in Whitehall for almost a decade, most recently working to the Secretary of State and his advisers on strategic communications planning.


Prior to that she ran the department's 24/7 newsdesk, leading on crisis communications management. She has also held media roles at Number 10, the Government Equalities Office and the Department for Transport. Gina is based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, and brings a wealth of experience and contacts with her. 


Phil Copple joined Denford from the New Schools Network, where he managed NSN's media and press work. He also oversaw the organisation's research and data analysis work.


He joined the New Schools Network team from The Future Leaders Trust (now Ambition School Leadership), a charity that provides training and development for senior leaders and headteachers in challenging schools. There, Phil managed the charity's expansion into the South West, developing a network of school leaders across the region.

Rhiannon Spellman began her career in the private sector working as a book publicist for a range of high profile authors before joining Government communications where she has spent the past ten years. At the Home Office she led the crime prevention press desk before taking on the Home Secretary's equalities brief, at the Department for Education she ran free schools media and most recently she has managed campaigns at the Department for Transport. Rhiannon is based in Essex and brings experience and sector knowledge to her role at Denford.

Dulcie Everitt is a 2020 graduate of Connecticut College, a liberal arts university in the US. Dulcie has worked with Amy for three years at the Talent Foundry and spent the summer of 2019 as a PR intern at Newington Communications. Dulcie brings her experience working in the charity and education sectors and the PR industry into her new role at Denford Associates. 

Kate Keating (Associate) has over 20 years communications experience, having worked at the heart of Whitehall and for globally renowned organisations like the BBC and Metropolitan Police. In recent years, Kate has specialised in education communications, as Director of Communications at Ofqual – the government’s exams regulator – and heading up marketing, communications and admissions for one of Oxfordshire’s leading boarding schools. Kate has supported ministers, chief executives, chairs and head teachers to develop and deliver their goals, and brings a wealth of strategic, campaign and crisis communications.

Liz Matthews (Associate) is a skilled Creative Solutions expert, with 12 years’ experience of working within the education sector, developing strategies to better engage and support learners in educational and community settings. She provides a motivational force and is an innovative problem solver, with a track record of devising and implementing various design and communication strategies to engage stakeholders. 


Between 2014 and 2018, Liz was responsible for the strategic development of marketing at The White Horse Federation Multi Academy Trust to support their schools and services, covering brand management and communications. Since 2018, she has been a design and marketing consultant for the Academies Enterprise Trust.

Sam Draper (Associate) is a Copy Writer and Content Editor of over twenty years experience, writing for the BBC, Sky, various Government departments, business-to-business publications, TES, and a variety of educational organisations. Topics covered vary from a range of social issues, education, sport, entertainment, literature, and careers. He has also worked as a full time secondary school English teacher for 17 years, a teacher trainer and coach, and facilitator for an educational charity focused on careers and social development of teenagers.


Lucy Mannion has spent the best part of a decade as Senior Parliamentary Assistant to a high profile Member of Parliament.  During that time she worked with local and national print and broadcast media organisations, as well as dealing with a variety of stakeholders in the educational and charity sectors.

Lucy has a strong background in communications and has used her writing skills to support political candidates and members of local government at district and county level.  She has also engaged in copywriting work for numerous businesses and organisations and written political blog pieces.