Ballantines PR
A global luxury and lifestyle public relations firm headquartered in Los Angeles

Meet The Team

Sarah Robarts

President

Sarah Robarts is the president and founder of the award winning, woman-owned business, Ballantines Public Relations (BPR). Sarah, along with her talented team of PR professionals, has worked with numerous internationally renowned companies and corporations over the past 16 years in Los Angeles. Prior to that, she worked with highly distinguished companies in London.

She counts Marriott International Lifestyle Brands, Lionsgate, Sony, Amazon, Land Rover, Christian Dior, American Airlines, Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, Malibu Beach Inn, Caesarstone Global, Sunset Marquis Hotel + Spa, St. Regis Bora Bora, the City of West Hollywood, Visit Phoenix, Four Seasons Hotel New York, Bamford/Daylesford, Rizzoli and Mani Brothers Real Estate Group, among her diverse roster of A-list clients. Sarah’s professional network and connections span across numerous industries, including hospitality, travel and tourism, entertainment, art and design and wellness.

Sarah’s nonprofit work is central to the philosophy of her company and to her belief in the importance of giving back. Over the last 25 years, she has made it a priority to work with nonprofit organizations around the world. BPR’s nonprofit clients and partners include the British American Business Council, Education is Not a Crime, The Sherry Lansing Foundation, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Variety’s Unite 4 Humanity, Rock the Elephant, TUSK Trust, Save the Elephants, Heart Foundation, Creative Visions, Cura Aids Orphanage in Kenya, Tree Media, We Advance, Lide, Global Down Syndrome, UCLA’s Taste for a Cure, EveryChild Foundation, BAFTA LA, and Brit Week.

Sarah is the former President of the British American Business Council, Los Angeles. She also serves on the BAFTA PR Committee, the board of Everychild Foundation, the board of Save the Elephants, the UCLA PR and Marketing Advisory Board and the American Airlines Council on Entertainment.

Dara Toulch

Senior Account Director

Dara graduated with honors from the University of Memphis on a full 4-year athletic scholarship, earning a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Journalism, with a concentration in Advertising. She then worked with Associated Press in Los Angeles. Shortly after, Dara landed a position at Ballantines PR as an Account Executive, where she accelerated to her current position as Senior Account Director.

Dara has been instrumental in developing and successfully executing high profile PR campaigns for brands such as Marriott International (Renaissance Hotels, Autograph Collection Hotels, AC Hotels by Marriott, and Moxy Hotels), AKA Serviced Residences, Sunset Marquis Hotel, City of West Hollywood, West Hollywood Design District, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, and Tribe Hotel in Kenya, among others.

She has gained national praise for her work, winning five 2016 Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Adrian Awards for her Marriott International campaigns. The results of her AKA Mobile Suite initiative received a 2014 Adrian Award as well as a 2014 Prism Award from the Public Relations Society of America. Dara’s standout achievements for The City of West Hollywood earned her the 2014 Excellence in Communication Award from CAPIO and the 2012 PRSA Prism Award of Excellence in Public Affairs.

Dara’s continued efforts to develop and strengthen her relationships with top lifestyle and luxury media has helped her garner brand-elevating exposure for her clients in today’s most prestigious media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Conde Nast Traveller UK, Visa Black Card’s LUXURY Magazine, USA Today, Travel + Leisure and Forbes.

Dara’s genuine love for PR drives her abilities to stay motivated and work hard. As a senior leader, she oversees many of the agency’s most prestigious accounts, consistently delivering strategic, creative ideas and high level, quality media results. Her willingness to go the extra mile for her clients has been a catalyst for BPR’s unparalleled customer service.

Kendal Hurley

Senior Account Director + Partner

Kendal graduated with honors from California Lutheran University, earning her Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations after only three years. Kendal began her career in celebrity and event PR, handling the red carpet and publicity at events from Sundance Film Festival to Houston Fashion Week. After joining Ballantines PR as an Account Executive in 2012, Kendal has successfully executed PR campaigns for local, national and international brands such as Caesarstone (U.S. and global), Binatone Global, Albuquerque Studios, South Carolina Film Commission, Casa del Mar, Sunset Marquis Hotel + Spa, Malibu Beach Inn, St. Regis Bora Bora and many more. She has cultivated relationships with editors across the world and placed clients in outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, Food Network Magazine, HGTV Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Elle Décor, Architectural Digest, The Wrap, Variety, Los Angeles Magazine, LA Confidential, Angeleno Magazine, Food & Wine, among others. Kendal’s approachable demeanor and positive outlook connect her with clients and journalists alike. Her strategic and organized approach to creating PR campaigns has been advantageous in garnering worldwide press across multiple industries.

Kendal was recognized as a “Top 30 Rising PR Star 30 & Under” in 2015 by PR News and was made a partner at BPR in December 2015.

Tammy Peters

East Coast Media Relations Specialist

Tammy is a trusted “go-to” resource in media circles. She services both clients and the media to ensure that opportunities for coverage are maximized. Tammy’s experience includes over seven years as the in-house Director of Communications for Mandarin Oriental, New York promoting its award-winning hotel, spa, and food and beverage outlets. In addition, she coordinated with Mandarin Oriental’s extensive worldwide PR agency network and oversaw the hotel’s advertising, marketing partnerships, integrated marketing, and social media strategy. She also worked at several top NYC advertising and travel PR agencies with clients including Design Hotels, Sundance Resort & Spa, Raffles Resort & Spa Canouan Island, Visit Scotland, British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, and Cotton House in Mustique.

Living and working in Manhattan throughout her career has allowed Tammy to curate a diverse, wide-reaching network of experts and influencers in the lifestyle, retail, fashion, luxury, spa and hotel industries, and connections to high-profile charitable organizations. A passionate traveler, she has gained valuable travel, hospitality, and lifestyle insights throughout Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean. Tammy is a big believer in cultivating genuine, long-lasting relationships and being an integrated extension of her clients’ teams.

Trisha Davis

Senior Account Director

Trisha is a seasoned PR professional who achieves top tier media coverage for her clients, while taking a strategic approach to developing and creating innovative media campaigns. Her approachable demeanor and positive outlook evoke a humble rapport between her clients and journalists alike. Trisha is an entertainment fanatic that has handled numerous red carpet events over the course of her 18-year career, for a vast variety of clients. Currently, her impressive client roster includes Pacifica Ventures, Sofitel Los Angeles, Marriott International, Hi-Lo Hotel Portland, One Gun Ranch, Amazon, Portola Hotel & Spa, and AKA Beverly Hills + West Hollywood.

Prior to launching her PR career, Trisha worked behind the scenes as a producer for more than a decade. Her wealth of experience in productions range from Dick Clark’s American Music Awards, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, FOX’s American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest, KTTV’s Divorce Court and Usher’s OMG Tour. Trisha quickly developed a deep passion for charitable work and went on to help produce several philanthropic events, including the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Global Down Syndrome Foundation Gala with Jamie Foxx, the Heart Foundation’s 20th Anniversary Event in 2016, and NBC’s telethon Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope, with George Clooney, which garnered an estimated $18.3 million for the American Red Cross International Response Fund following the 2004 tsunami.

Trisha’s close relationships with the media have earned her clients national coverage in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Today Show, BRAVO TV, E! Entertainment, Lifetime, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Angeleno Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, Los Angeles Confidential, Los Angeles Business Journal, Wall Street Journal, Departures, Vanity Fair, Vogue and many more.

Michelle Abril

Senior Account Director

Michelle Abril has a passion for PR and the fire in her belly when it comes to achieving client goals. Michelle’s expertise and infectious energy resonate in everything she does, from consistently securing widespread national coverage for her clients to sharing her thoughts on the future of PR.

Michelle has a proven track record in securing home-run A-list placements for her clients. She has delivered a number of award-winning public relations campaigns earning numerous HSMAI Awards, Gold Bulldog Reporter Bulldog Awards, a Bronze SATW Award and PR Daily’s Gold PR Innovation of the Year Award. Michelle excels at delivering strategic PR campaigns across multiple platforms that positively impact the bottom line.

Michelle spearheaded the media relations and strategy for various travel and hospitality brands ranging from all-inclusive, independent hotels, boutique properties, luxury resorts as well as destination accounts. She is a driving force in the industry and has also served as a mentor to many colleagues.

Michelle graduated with honors from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minors in Spanish and Law and Public Policy. Michelle is bilingual and speaks Spanish fluently.

Austin Ruth

Account Executive

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Austin graduated from The University of Southern California with degrees in Psychology and Kinesiology. During her time at USC, Austin was exceptionally involved both academically and athletically. Following graduation Austin interned for The USC Athletic Department, working closely with the marketing and communications team, planting the roots of what her PR career is today. An avid traveler and sports fan, Austin has extensive international experience traveling to some of the biggest and most prestigious sporting events in the world. Austin’s PR expertise lie in the fields of hospitality/travel, health/fitness, and sports business. Her clients include Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, Marriott International, The St. Regis Bora Bora, Malibu Beach Inn, Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, among others. She has executed many successful PR campaigns, securing media coverage in international, national, regional, local and trade media across print, broadcast, and online. This year alone, Austin has implemented countless strategic global PR and marketing campaigns, surpassing billions of media impressions, equivalent to millions of dollars in ad value for her clients. Austin also consults with her clients marketing teams to develop creative, brand leveraging social media campaigns.

Ashley Fierman

Senior Account Executive

Ashley graduated with honors from the University of Florida, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations. Prior to joining Ballantines PR, Ashley began her career at a full-service public relations firm in South Florida. While she worked with clients in various industries, Ashley focused on real estate and managed accounts for both residential and commercial real estate developers. She was responsible for generating media coverage, publicizing milestones, planning and executing groundbreaking ceremonies and sales launch events, as well as handling social media accounts. Ashley leveraged her long-standing relationships in the South Florida real estate community to break into the interior design space. She developed a strategic public relations campaign for one of the top interior design firms in Miami.

Outside of her career, Ashley served on the Board of Directors for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) – Greater Fort Lauderdale Chapter as Co-Chair of its young professionals group. She was also a member of the University of Florida’s local alumni association and served on the Board of Directors as a Young Alumni Coordinator.

Danielle Herbst

Senior Account Director

Born and raised in San Francisco, Danielle graduated from University of California Santa Barbara earning her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and has now called Los Angeles home for the last fifteen years; Danielle is a true California girl. She has a passion for all things food, fashion and travel and is able to show her enthusiasm through her work in PR for the last ten years.

She has focused her expertise in the hospitality space where she executed successful PR and marketing campaigns for numerous restaurant and hotel clients including Patina Restaurant Group, Lemonade Restaurant Group, SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, and others. Prior to her work in hospitality, she worked with various clients in the lifestyle space, generating coverage across all platforms. She has opened many restaurants in Los Angeles and Orange County and has experience with cookbook launches. Danielle joined the team at Ballantines PR as a Senior Account Director and works closely with Amazon Studios, among others.

Danyelle Simpkins

Account Executive

Danyelle graduated from the University of Southern California, earning a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Communication and minoring in Culture, Media and Entertainment. As a key member of the BPR team, Danyelle focuses on travel, hospitality and tourism, working with the likes of AKA Beverly Hills and AKA West Hollywood, Malibu Beach Inn, Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, Hi-Lo Hotel, Portola Hotel & Spa, and Sunset Marquis, among others.

Throughout the course of her studies at USC, Danyelle was active in her academics, philanthropy and athletics, and was involved in the Delta Gamma Sorority and the USC Women’s Club Volleyball Team. Prior to Ballantines PR, she gained invaluable experience in the field of marketing working with Live Nation Entertainment in the digital marketing department. She also honed her organizational skills working in the administrative department with the Law Office of Norman Rasmussen, and her interpersonal skills as an assistant volleyball coach with Prime Athletes. Danyelle demonstrates an exceptional work ethic, and has a passion for volunteer work. She has been involved in numerous fundraising events at USC, and has been a volunteer leader for the Swim with Mike Charitable Fund during her first three years at USC where she raised scholarship funds for disabled student-athletes. Prior to that, she was a devoted member of National Charity League for six years, contributing hundreds of hours of volunteer work.

Zoe Simbolon

Account Executive

Zoe Simbolon graduated from Victoria University with a Bachelor of Communication in Public Relations and Professional Writing. As a keen writer and editor, during her senior year Zoe edited her university's student publication, Offset Journal. Prior to joining the BPR team, Zoe worked as a Communications Coordinator at non-profit organization SANE, where she was responsible for marketing and PR initiatives across the organization, including leading the development of public facing events, management of multi-channel campaigns, public relations strategy, and copywriting. Zoe’s love of arts and culture informed her work as a Publicity Coordinator at Screen Futures Festival, and her role as a Creative Producer at the Emerging Writers’ Festival. Zoe has also worked at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, White Night and Malthouse Theater among others. Zoe was selected as a Program Advisory Board Member for the Youth Media Festival, and was also the recipient of an Australian Federal Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade travel scholarship to Singapore and Malaysia. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Zoe is passionate about great coffee, music and traveling.

Emily Johnston

Account Executive

Originally from South Carolina, Emily graduated Cum Laude from Clemson University with a BA in Communication Studies and a Minor in Global Politics. She discovered her passion for public relations while interning at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where she worked red carpet events and handled talent. Upon her return to the U.S., she decided that after graduation she would move to Los Angeles and pursue her dream of leaving her hometown and diving into the world of PR.

Emily began her career assisting on awards campaigns for movies produced and distributed by major industry players including A24, Sony Pictures Classics, DreamWorks, Paramount and more. She moved on to dabble in brand PR and secured a job at Konnect Agency where she honed her strategic media relations skills working with large multi-unit international companies such as Fatburger, Sky Zone, The Little Gym and The Goddard School. Her love of travel, desire to work with non-profits and passion for health and wellness are what led her to switch paths again and join the BPR team. Her main clients today include Hilton Santa Barbara, Nurture, L.Raphael, Global Down Syndrome, Taste for a Cure and The Longevity Diet.

Katie Fraguela

Account Executive

Katie was born and raised in New York City, and graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. She began her career in Miami working at a marketing agency where she planned and executed events for hospitality/travel, fashion, arts, real estate, health and fitness brands. Katie’s love of travel led her to join a full-service public relations firm where she managed the Florida Keys & Key West account. She was responsible for executing media coverage, coordinating and leading press trips, facilitating media requests and writing press materials. A self-proclaimed "expert Cision researcher"(!), Katie joined the BPR team to continue to pursue her passion for hospitality/travel PR.

Danielle Townsley

Junior Account Executive + Social Media Coordinator

As a key member of the Ballantines PR team, Danielle spearheads all social media programming as well as develops and executes creative PR campaigns for the likes of Caesarstone, Trisara Resort, and the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. Prior to joining Ballantines PR, Danielle began her professional career as a Marketing Assistant at Adelyn Rae, a fashion brand based in Downtown Los Angeles, and was in charge of copywriting blog posts, emails, ad campaigns, and website content. In addition to writing, she also demonstrated her tech savvy by creating and posting content for the Adelyn Rae website, and managed all content creation and posting on social media platforms. Danielle graduated Magna Cum Laude from California State University Channel Islands, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Business Management. Living just outside of Los Angeles her entire life, Danielle has a passion for all things beauty, fashion, lifestyle, and entertainment, and loves any kind of task that allows her to incorporate her creativity.

Jessica LoPresti

Junior Account Executive

Jessica is a recent graduate of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, where she earned a degree in communications and three minors in public relations, professional writing, and digital communication & new media. During her final year at KU she became the social media coordinator for the university’s study abroad program and interned for a local non-profit organization that benefitted the Kutztown community.

Her passion for entertainment and media relations led her to pursue a career in public relations. She started out as an intern for Ballantines PR and was recently promoted to junior account executive.

Brianna Bachtell

Director of Office Culture

Brianna is a born and raised Californian. She earned her BS in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Policy. Brianna feels very compassionate about the environment, although her true passions lie in art. When Brianna is not keeping the office running smoothly, she is in her studio painting and making artwork.

Ceilidh Jeans

Director of Office Culture

Ceilidh (Kaylee) hails from beautiful Prescott, Arizona. She grew up on a mountain top, miles out of the city, where she formed her great love of the outdoors and being in nature. Exploring the outdoors is still a big part of her life, whether it be a quick hike down the Grand Canyon or a week long trek to Machu Picchu!

Ceilidh was a marketing major at Arizona State (go Sundevils!) and spent many years in charge of public relations for the Tempe Improv chain before moving to Los Angeles. When she is not keeping the office running smoothly at BPR, she still enjoys keeping live comedy a big part of her life and seeing shows as often as possible, finding eccentric events happening around Los Angeles and planning her next great adventure. And once in a while, if you look real close, you may even catch her in a commercial on TV!

Jasmine Sarian

Graphic Designer

Los Angeles native Jasmine Sarian always manages to find the harmony between public relations and graphic design. Her Journalism degree and PR work experience paired with her eight years of creating Photoshop and InDesign projects, Powerpoint presentations and social media graphics are what make her a vital resource to all BPR clients, namely Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, Malibu Beach Inn and Caesarstone.

Prior to pursuing graphic design, Jasmine specialized in luxury and lifestyle public relations at Finn Partners. The clients she assisted ran the gamut from Jamba Juice and BevMo! to Bosch Appliances and the U.S. China Film & TV Industry Expo. On these teams, she was noticed for her meticulous formatting of briefing books, press kits, flyers, presentations and invitations.

Jasmine is a certified graphic designer through the UCLA Extension Design Communication Arts program, where she was mentored by industry-leading designers on branding (logos and beyond), packaging, advertising, invitation design, editorial layouts, typography and color theory. Jasmine holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, specializing in Public Relations, from California State University, Northridge.

When she’s not fixing the kerning between two letters, Jasmine enjoys trying out new restaurants in Los Angeles, practicing makeup, and encouraging dog adoptions.

Jasmine Prodonovich

Accounting Manager

Jasmine joined Ballantines PR in 2004; bringing with her the extensive accounting and management experience obtained from over 15 years working with many top companies and CPA firms.

Alongside Sarah Robarts, Jasmine handles all financial and HR responsibilities for the company and staff. Always striving to provide accurate financials and responsive service with a positive attitude & strong work ethic.

A dedicated businesswoman, she is also building her own accounting and management firm, working with many well established businesses, as well as young start-up companies and creating the “Go To” network of accounting.