Biographies - 2021 NMC Symposium




Alexis Ford-Ellis

Director, Workplace Well-being & Mental Health, Knowledge Circle for Indigenous Inclusion

Alexis Ford-Ellis

Alexis is a Gwich’in woman from the Fort MacPherson Band located around Aklavik / Inuvik in the North West Territories. She grew up in a chronic abusive and substance-using environment, and has lived through many traumatizing experiences. Through the teachings of many wonderful Elders and healers, she learned to change her anger and hatefulness into love and forgiveness along her journey of healing. 


Alexis is currently on secondment with the Knowledge Circle for Indigenous Inclusion (KCII) as the Director of Well-being and Mental Health. Previously she was a faculty member of the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) for the Indigenous Learning Program (2019); Director, Wellness with Justice Canada (2015-2019); and Regional Director of Human Resources, Prairie Region with Justice Canada (2010 - 2015). 

In 2010, Alexis completed her Master Degree in Psychology Counselling through City University in Seattle Washington at the Edmonton satellite campus. As a student psychologist, Alexis interned at an Aboriginal Youth Treatment Center, and did research on How is the Medicine Wheel Considered in Therapeutic Practice (2010), which was recently published in the Journal of Concurrent Disorders, Special Edition, Indigneous Mental Health, September 2019. She has 4 beautiful daughters, 3 grand-daughters, and many adopted sons, daughters and grandchildren. Alexis loves runnin,  hot yoga, writing and sewing.  With her personal  experience as a Gwich’in woman, 25+ years of human resources experience in the federal public service, and her education in psychology, she is able to bring a wealth of expertise and lived experience in delivering mental health messages. 

Arun Thangaraj

NMC Champion and Associate Deputy Minister, Transport Canada

Arun Thangaraj

Arun Thangaraj was appointed Associate Deputy Minister of Transport on July 6, 2020.

Before joining Transport Canada, Arun was Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Financial Officer at Global Affairs Canada where he was responsible for Information Management and Information Technology (IM/IT).

Arun received the Queen Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for his contribution to the federal public service and to his community and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Ottawa.  He is a Chartered Professional Accountant and holds a Master of Arts in Public Administration from Carleton University, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Ottawa, and an Honours BA in Political Science from the University of Toronto. 

Beverley Ann Morris

Employee Assistance Program Coordinator-Counsellor at the Canada Border Services Agency

Beverley Ann Morris
Beverley is a registered Certified Canadian Counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA). She has a Master of Counselling from the University of Ottawa and has worked in the EAP since 2010. Having had 10 years’ experience in the private sector, she was excited to join the CBSA team this May. She has experience working with a range of modalities including video counselling, tele counselling and online group counselling. Her counselling style is client centered and integrative as she uses approaches that best foster the goals of her clients. She believes in practicing Nonviolent Communication as presented by Rosenberg and encourages her clients to practice the same.

Darlène de Gravina

Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources Services Branch, Employment and Social Development Canada

Darlène de Gravina

Darlène de Gravina is the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) of the Human Resources Services Branch (HRSB), Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Darlène has held several key positions within the public service, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as Vice-President of the Human Resources Branch. Darlène  previously served as Head of Human Resources at the Department of Canadian Heritage, the former Canadian International Development Agency, and Defence Research and Development Canada. She held prior positions in and out of Human Resources at the Department of National Defence, the Public Service Commission of Canada, and the Correctional Service of Canada. She holds a degree in Commerce from Queen’s University, and a Certificate in Public Sector Leadership and Governance from the University of Ottawa. A native Montrealer, Darlène enjoys travel and cycling.

Janice Charette

Interim Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet.

Janice Charette

Janice Charette became the Interim Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet on March 9, 2021.

Prior to rejoining the Privy Council, Ms. Charette was the High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and agreed to serve as Interim Clerk while Ian Shugart is on medical leave.

From October 2014 to January 2016, Ms. Charette was Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet. Previously, she was Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet (2013-2014), as well as Associate Secretary to the Cabinet and Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (2010-2013).

In addition, Ms. Charette has held several senior leadership positions in the public service, including:

-Deputy Minister for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (2006–2010)

-Deputy Minister for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2004–2006)

-Associate Deputy Minister for Health Canada (2003–2004)

Ms. Charette attended Carleton University, where she received a Bachelor of Commerce degree, and she was granted an honorary doctorate from Kingston University, United Kingdom. In March 2021, Ms. Charette received the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. The designation represents a commitment to excellence in the boardroom and the highest standards of leadership.

Jean-François Claude

Senior Advisor, Workplace Mental Health, Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Jean-François Claude

A firm believer in the power of storytelling to bring about culture change, Jean-François Claude regularly shares his lived experience of living with Persistent Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. From Moncton to Victoria to Iqaluit and Atlanta and many places in between, Jean-François is an experienced bilingual keynote speaker, raising awareness of mental health and reducing the stigma of mental illness through over 200 engaging and inspiring mental health talks since 2014.

In sharing his personal story, Jean-François takes his audiences on a journey of discovery: from his fall into the depths of double depression; his struggles with mental illness stigma; and his ensuing travels on the road to mental health recovery following an unexpected and sudden leave of absence from work at age 40. A journey that would reveal the shocking truth behind a secret family history of mental illness. In the months following his breakdown, Jean-François would go on to discover he’d been unknowingly managing both a chronic depressive mood disorder and an anxiety disorder, likely since his teenage years. And yet, coping with these conditions never prevented him from pursuing his studies, establishing himself professionally and progressing in his career. Jean-François has since turned his personal adversity into public advocacy for mental health, notably as the Co-founder of the Federal Speakers’ Bureau on Mental Health, a virtual team of federal public servants who openly share their experiences with mental health struggles and recovery, to help address the stigma of mental illness in the workplace.

Jean-François Claude joined the Federal Public Service in 1998. He is currently serving as a Senior Advisor, Workplace Mental Health, with the Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace at Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Jean-François is also a certified Psychological Health and Safety Advisor (Canadian Mental Health Association), with additional certifications in Workplace Mental Health Leadership™ (Queen’s University) and Mental Health First Aid.

Jennifer MacDougall

Senior Manager of Events and Partnerships (Free Agent), Federal Youth Network

Jennifer MacDougall

Through her work over the past 10+ years, first at the CSPS, then at the Federal Youth Network and FlexGC, Jennifer has been dedicated to inspiring public servants to enhance their confidence, skills, and ability to collaborate, question the default, voice their ideas, and break down silos.

Currently, she is bringing her talent and knowledge of public sector innovation and modern ways of working in the digital world to her career as a Free Agent. In addition to being passionate about empowering public servants, Jennifer has expertise in building partnerships and connections while working in a remote environment.

Jeremy Tait

Director and Departmental Liaison, Engagement, Communications, Digital Enablement and Information Management Knowledge Circle for Indigenous Inclusion

Jeremy Tait

Jeremy Tait is a member of Nisga’a Nation in British Columbia, and lives in Moncton NB. Jeremy graduated from St. Mary’s University in Halifax with a concentration in Management and Human Resource Management.

Jeremy started his career in Employment Skills Development Canada (ESDC, formally HRDC) as a student through FSWEP. Now for more than 20 years he has served with various departments/organizations including: ESDC, Social Development Canada, Service Canada, Public Service Alliance of Canada, and Indigenous Services Canada. Working in a regional office Jeremy’s expertise is through corporate services and Indigenous programming in the following: Employment Equity, Training, Indigenous Recruitment, Development, Retention, Finance, Human Resources, Issues Management, Education, Social, and Indigenous Liaison Services.

Jeremy is a natural leader and naturally takes on the lead of Indigenous Employee networks. He is naturally and intricately connected to the federal family through Federal Council, Indigenous Employee Networks, and Interdepartmental working groups to advance reconciliation. Jeremy works to make the workplace a better place for all employees from all walks of life. His daily goal is: “to leave the workplace in a better way than when I found it”.

Kathleen Clarkin

Director, Workplace Policy, Programs Engagement and Ethics, OCHRO, Treasury Board Secretariat

Kathleen Clarkin

Kathleen Clarkin, Director, Workplace Policy, Programs Engagement and Ethics with the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) at Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS).

Kathleen joined the public service more than fifteen years ago and since that time has worked in several active portfolios. She leads the policy team responsible for the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector as well as Treasury Board’s Policy on People Management including such areas of focus as Telework, Employment Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the Duty to Accommodate, Mandatory Training, Performance Management and Student Employment. The team also provides support to government organizations in the administration of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (Canada’s Whistleblower legislation).

Kathleen is Canada’s delegate to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Working Party of Senior Public Integrity Officials (SPIO), the Secretary to the Advisory Committee on Legal Assistance and Indemnification, and she chairs the Interdepartmental Network on Values and Ethics.

Marie-Josée Kabis

A/Senior Director, Strategic Management and Stakeholder relations, Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, OCHRO

Marie-Josée still can’t believe her luck to be working at OCHRO’s Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI). As a/senior director of strategic management and stakeholder relations, she has the privilege of being paid for doing what she loves: collaborating with colleagues across government to push for a horizontal and coherent approach to D+I.

Before joining CDI, Marie-Josée held a multitude of roles at PSPC, Health Canada and the Public Service Commission, always striving for the best results for Canadians and for the public service.

Michele Elliott

Senior Advisor and Subject Matter Expert, Talent Management, Knowledge Circle for Indigenous Inclusion

Michele Elliott

Prior to joining the Public Service, Michèle was a schoolteacher for over 10 years. She then made the move to the Federal Government as an HR assistant. Within her first year in government, Michèle successfully landed a supervisory role at First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) at Health Canada. There she worked on Indigenous files, where she could follow her passion of contributing to the career development, personal growth and better living environment of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people and communities.

Michèle then became the Lead of the Indigenous Development Programs. In 2019, following 11 years of service as the Lead for Indigenous Development Programs, Michèle assumed the role of Indigenous Navigator for FNIHB, which by this time, was part of Indigenous Services Canada. In this new role, Michèle supported Indigenous employee recruitment, retention and advancement within the department. She offered career counselling to Indigenous employees. She helped managers who were looking to staff positions with Indigenous candidates. She assisted Indigenous employees, located across the country, with mapping out career paths, creating learning plans, providing advice on how to be successful in staffing processes, and helping them find staffing opportunities. Over the years, she has frequently acted as the Manager of the Indigenous Programming Team (IPT) at Indigenous Services Canada.

Michèle is an Indigenous woman of Algonquin and Mi’kmaq descent. She is happily married and a proud mother of three, two daughters and a son. She has a Degree in Psychology, a Degree in Education and an Additional Qualification Course: Teaching French as a Second Language from the University of Ottawa.

Natasha Côté-Khan

Senior Communications Advisor (Free Agent), Transport Canada

Natasha Côté-Khan

Natasha is a regional Free Agent located in London Ontario where she has been working from home since March 2019.

Natasha is currently on assignment at Transport Canada where she is a Senior Communications Advisor. Her areas of focus are UX and HCD design, Future of Work, Communications, Program Management and Events.

Working off the “side of her desk” with FlexGC since their launch in February 2020, Natasha has had the opportunity to liaise with multiple stakeholders and colleagues across the Government of Canada to support and share new tips and ideas of working from home.

With 6 children at home during the multiple pandemic lock downs, Natasha has been a passionate advocate for almost 3 years sharing her insights and teachings on how to manage working from home while maintaining good team culture and cohesion at work, and sharing how she balances her work expectations and her family.

Nathalie Thériault

Acting Manager, Career Management Services, Public Services and Procurement Canada

Nathalie Thériault

Nathalie is a career counselor and is the co-chair of the Interdepartmental Community of Practice on Career. She has held various human resources positions in the federal public service, including career management, learning, staffing, employee performance management and labour relations. She is currently the acting manager of the Career Management Services at Public Services and Procurement Canada.

Nicole Bekzadeh

Business Expertise Senior Consultant, Service Canada, Ontario Region

Nicole Bekzadeh

Nicole Bekzadeh is a Business Expertise Senior Consultant with Service Canada Ontario Region. The mother of four children is passionate about inclusion, diversity and wellness and feels that the Public Service should be a model for employers across Canada. She brings her lived experiences as a Black woman navigating her career from an entry-level call centre position to her current level. Nicole is also a fitness enthusiast and competitive powerlifter.

Patrick Gauthier

Director of Outreach and Partner Engagement, Public Service Commission

Patrick Gauthier
Patrick Gauthier has been with the Public Service Commission (PSC) since 2012 and has focused, for the past seven years, on leading the development of programs and strategies to eliminate recruitment barriers in the public service as a whole. Mr. Gauthier is currently the Director of Outreach and Partner Engagement and is responsible for the development and implementation of strategic approaches for talent matching to improve recruitment results. He is also responsible for the implementation and administration of the Federal Disability Internship Program. He received his Master of Public Administration from the National School of Public Administration in 2014.

Pierre Losier

Chair, Persons with Disabilities Network, Public Services and Procurement Canada

Pierre Losier held various management positions within PSPC for most of his career. He was one of the two first Operational Managers at the newly established Public Service Pay Centre in 2012. In May 2015, he suffered a work-related burnout.

“Even after the burnout, I was too ashamed to talk about my mental illnesses. I was seeing a psychologist for my burn-out but wasn’t comfortable talking to him about my anxiety.”

In November 2015, he has diagnosed him with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) by a psychiatrist. “I had no idea I had been experiencing daily anxiety attacks for such a long time.”

Pierre is now a Federal Public Speaker on Mental Health in addition to his role as Chair of the Persons with Disabilities Network.

Rachel Haché

HR Programs Manager, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Rachel Haché

Rachel Haché is a certified coach and a career counsellor. She is the co-chair of the Interdepartmental Community of Practice on Career. She began her career in HR in the NCR at Canadian Heritage and at Finances Canada before moving back to her home province of New-Brunswick. She is currently the acting manager of HR Programs at Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).

Raquel Fragoso

Director General, Human Resources, Federal Economic Development Agency, Southern Ontario

Raquel Fragoso

Raquel Fragoso joined the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario as the Director General of Human Resources in October 2018. She oversees a wide range of HR services and programs within the Agency.


Throughout the years, Raquel has occupied several senior positions in Human Resources, policy development and program delivery.  At Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), Raquel was the Director of Executive HR Services, Corporate Learning and Talent Management, Director of Small Business Policy and Outreach and Director of the Marquee Tourism and Events Program. Prior to joining ISED, she was a Senior Advisor with the Privy Council Office and was Director of Legislative Affairs to the Minister of Industry and the Leader of the Government in the Senate.


With an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree with a specialization in Canadian Politics and Public Administration from Queen’s University, Raquel brings significant public sector experience to her role. She currently lives in Ottawa and has two teenage daughters.

Sylvain Lefebvre

National Manager Area Advisor (Quebec) of The Office for the Prevention and Resolution of Conflict at CFIA

Sylvain Lefebvre

Having worked as a nurse in various health sectors, including more than 15 years at the Montréal Heart Institute, 10 of them in the emergency room, and 20 years at Correctional Service Canada, Sylvain Lefebvre stands out for his determination. As he faced the challenges of nursing, Sylvain moved into influential roles by getting actively involved while striving to improve working conditions in a tough environment. He soon became a team leader in the Employee Assistance Program, then manager of the regional public health sector and ultimately manager of health services in two federal penitentiaries.

Throughout his career, Sylvain has been actively involved as a union steward, playing several roles: he served as treasurer and as a member of health and safety committees; he was part of the national bargaining team and participated in the development of a collective agreement; and he took on the defining role of his career as National Consultation Team President, where he put his expertise to good use.

Seeing that he could make a difference in his workplace through his talents as a mediator, and further to his training in mediation, facilitation, prevention, conflict management and other related fields, he currently holds a position as national manager and regional advisor in conflict prevention and management. Today, in recognition of his expertise, senior management seeks his advice on measures for improving interpersonal relations in the workplace.

Tom Balfour

Director General, Human Resources, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Tom Balfour

Tom joined Fisheries and Oceans Canada in September 2015 in the role of Director General of Human Resources, the Department’s Chief Human Resources Officer.

Tom previously acted as Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources at Public Services and Procurement Canada after serving as Director General, Labour Relations and Ethics, Occupational Health and Safety, Compensation and Well-being in that same organization. Before that, he worked in several federal departments, both at Headquarters as well as in different regional offices, including Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Communication Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Public Service Commission.

Tom is a recognized leader in human resources (HR) and people management. A common denominator across his many roles has been his commitment to excellence and to bringing innovative solutions to persistent challenges facing the public service.

Tom’s commitment to the public service HR agenda extends to a longtime role as the employer co-chair of the Public Service Commission’s Joint Advisory Council (PSCJAC). The Public Service Commission reports independently to Parliament and the PSCJAC, composed of bargaining agent and employer representatives, advises it on a variety of HR issues and provides input on emerging HR initiatives.

He holds a bachelor of arts (honours) in law from Carleton University. 

Tracey Sametz

Director General, Human Resources, Transport Canada

Tracey Sametz

Tracey Sametz was appointed Director General of Human Resources (DGHR) at Transport Canada in March, 2017.  Transport Canada is the eighth Public Service department in Tracey’s 36+ year career.

Tracey is an experienced HR professional, and is a strong believer in the value of partnerships and lifelong learning.  She is an advocate for progressive HR initiatives, and fundamental functional and cultural change. She is recognized as having considerable knowledge and expertise in the areas of HR governance and strategic policy, and has designed and delivered HR programming and services at the departmental and central-agency level.

In addition to her role as DGHR, Tracey is the Chair of the Isolated Post and Government Housing (IPGH) Committee of the National Joint Council, and is an employer representative on both the Public Service Commission’s Joint Advisory Committee (PSCJAC), and the Joint Learning Program (JLP) Steering Committee.

Tracey has most recently been honoured with the National Joint Council’s 75th Anniversary Recognition Award, acknowledging her contribution and leadership in working to improve workplaces across the public service. 

Valentina Fumagalli

Director of Inclusive Recruitement, Public Service Commission

As the Director of Inclusive Recruitment at the Public Service Commission (PSC), Valentina is, among other things, responsible for providing advice on diversity hiring programs, and on services the PSC provides to the government.

Before joining the PSC, Valentina worked for 13 years at Public Services and Procurement Canada where she gained a variety of experiences: she was director of Official Languages, Diversity and Inclusion, Office’s Manager of the very first Office of the Ombudsman for Mental Health within the public service, Chief of Staff to two Assistant Deputy Ministers and Manager of one of the largest translation units within the Translation Bureau.

Valentina firmly believes that an organization’s success depends on the skill and commitment of a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Valérie Gideon

Associate Deputy Minister, Indigenous Services Canada

Valérie Gideon

Dr. Valérie Gideon is a member of the Mi’kmaq Nation of Gesgapegiag, Quebec and a proud mother of two young girls. 

She currently holds the position of Associate Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services Canada.  From 2018-2020, she was the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB), Indigenous Services Canada.  From 2012-17, Valerie held the position of Assistant Deputy Minister, Regional Operations, Health Canada. In 2011-2012, she was Director General, Strategic Policy, Planning and Analysis at FNIHB. From 2007-2010, she held the position of Regional Director for First Nations and Inuit Health, Ontario Region, Health Canada.

Prior to working at Health Canada, her experience consisted mainly of working in First Nations health advocacy as Senior Director of Health and Social Development at the Assembly of First Nations and Director of the First Nations Centre at the National Aboriginal Health Organization. She was named Chair of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Health Research Peer Review Committee of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in 2004.

She graduated from McGill University (Montreal) in 2000 with a Doctorate degree (Dean’s List) in Communications (dissertation pertaining to telehealth and citizen empowerment).  She previously completed a Masters of Arts in 1996 at McGill. She is a founding member of the Canadian Society of Telehealth and former Board member of the National Capital Region YMCA/YWCA.

Vinita Ambwani

Director, Special Projects Development and Implementation, Centre on Diversity and Inclusion, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Vinita Ambwani

Dr. Vinita Ambwani is the Director responsible for Special Projects Development and Implementation at the Centre on Diversity and Inclusion at the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat. Before taking on her current role at OCHRO, Vinita worked for several years in the Corporate Staffing, Employment Equity and Official Languages Directorate in the Human Resources Management Sector of the Correctional Services Canada. Prior to her twelve years in the federal public service Vinita has taught management at the university level for many years. 

She has also authored several papers on topics related to workplace outcomes for diverse populations that have been presented at diversity conferences across the world and have been published in academic peer-reviewed journals. She obtained her PhD from Sprott School of Business, Carleton University in 2014.

Vivian Cousineau

Visiting Executive: Director – Talent Management, Knowledge Circle for Indigenous Inclusion

Vivian joined the federal public service in 1991 as a Clerk at the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.  She then moved to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) in the fall of 1992. 

Over the years, her responsibilities increased while she pursued her studies part-time to obtain a business degree from the Université du Québec à Hull followed by a Civil Law Degree at the University of Ottawa.  She eventually became the OSB’s Corporate Secretary, where her functions included communications, international relations and court liaison as well as serving as the Clerk of the administrative tribunal for trustee professional conduct files.  She then joined Elections Canada in 2007 as the Chief Electoral Officer’s (CEO) Chief Staff.  She has been a member of the Quebec Bar since 2009.  She was responsible for running the CEO’s immediate office and oversaw various governance and HR files. 

Again, her portfolio grew to take on international and provincial relations, internal audit, complaints and HR.  She was Chief of Staff and acting Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) for more than two years before taking on the CHRO role on a permanent basis in 2015.  In 2020, she became a Senior Advisor to the CEO and developed a keen interest in diversity and inclusion.  Vivian joined the KCII team in May 2021 as a Visiting Executive: Director – Talent Management.

Date modified: