Diplomatic Appointments

August 1, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today announced the following diplomatic appointments and term extensions:

Louise Blais becomes Consul General in Atlanta (United States of America).

Dennis Savoie becomes Ambassador to the Holy See.

Sylvia Cesaratto’s term as Ambassador to the Republic of Panama is extended.

Sanjeev Chowdhury’s term as Consul General in Rio de Janeiro (Federative Republic of Brazil) is extended.

Louis de Lorimier’s term as Ambassador to the Republic of Mali, with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Niger, is extended.

Chantal de Varennes’s term as Ambassador to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Liberia, is extended.

Cassie Doyle’s term as Consul General in San Francisco (United States of America) is extended.

Deborah Lyons’s term as Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is extended.

Thomas MacDonald’s term as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Yemen, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman, is extended.

Ivan Roberts’s term as Ambassador to Burkina Faso, with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Benin, is extended.

Lisa Stadelbauer’s term as Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe, with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Angola and as High Commissioner in the Republic of Botswana, is extended.

Biographical notes follow.

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Biographical Notes

Louise Blais (BA, McGill University, 1988) joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 1996 after having worked as manager of the Development Office at the National Archives of Canada and as an analyst with Interpol. Ms. Blais was posted first to Washington, D.C., as counsellor for public affairs, and next to Tokyo as head of public affairs. At Canada’s mission in Paris, she served as minister-counsellor for political affairs and director of the Canadian Cultural Centre. In Ottawa, Ms. Blais has held the position of director of public diplomacy and services and is currently executive director of assignments and rotational and mobile employee management. Ms. Blais and her husband, Peter Falkner, have two sons. Ms. Blais replaces Stephen Brereton.

Dennis Savoie (BA [Sociology], Université de Moncton, 1968), a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals, dedicated more than 25 years of his career to the New Brunswick Electric Power Corporation. He began his career in 1969 as a market researcher and subsequently filled progressively more senior roles with the company. In 1987, he was vice-president of customer service and vice-president for administration and human resources, for operations, and for corporate business improvement before retiring in 1996. After his retirement from the New Brunswick Electric Power Corporation, Mr. Savoie was executive director of the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes for four years. He is also a long-time member of the Knights of Columbus and has held several leadership roles with the organization, including a position as deputy supreme knight and assistant to the Supreme Knight for Canadian Affairs. Mr. Savoie has been an active member of his community throughout his career; his many community roles have included serving as an elected member and board member of various New Brunswick school boards, as a member of the Boards of Governors of both Université de Moncton and Saint Thomas University, as a board member of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, and as a minor hockey coach. Mr. Savoie and his wife, Claudette Surette, have two children, Marc and Brigitte, and five grandchildren. Mr. Savoie replaces Anne Leahy.

Sylvia Cesaratto (BComm [Administration], Concordia University, 1987), joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 1996 as a personnel officer with the Human Resources Branch. Abroad, Ms. Cesaratto served in London as first secretary for aerospace and defence and later as the trade program manager in Brussels. In Ottawa, she worked as a United Kingdom desk officer. From 2008 to 2011, she was the director of the Strategic Initiatives Division. Ms. Cesaratto has served as ambassador to Panama since 2011.

Sanjeev Chowdhury (BComm, Saint Mary’s University, 1990; MBA [International Management], Thunderbird, American Graduate School of International Management, 1991) joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 1995 as an officer with the G-7 Summit. Between 1995 and 1997, he worked in the Parliamentary Relations Division, then in the Media Relations Division. He then accepted an assignment as assistant trade commissioner in Mumbai. He returned to Ottawa in 2000 to become a financial analyst. From 2001 to 2002, he served as press secretary to the minister of foreign affairs. From 2002 to 2003, he was director of operations to the deputy prime minister and minister of finance at the Privy Council Office. From 2003 to 2006, he served as consul general in Ho Chi Minh City. During this time, he had two short assignments as acting high commissioner in Sri Lanka and as acting consul general in Mumbai. In 2006, he returned to Ottawa to become deputy chief of protocol. Between 2007 and 2008, he held two director positions related to Canada’s role in Afghanistan, then became director of operations on the Afghanistan Task Force at the Privy Council Office. In 2009, he became director general of programs at the Summits Management Office. Mr. Chowdhury has served as consul general in Rio de Janeiro since 2011.

Louis de Lorimier (BA [Political Science], Université de Montréal, 1979) worked as a journalist for Le Journal de Montréal, programs director for the Canadian University Service Overseas and desk editor for La Presse before joining the Department of External Affairs in 1982. He served abroad as second secretary and vice-consul in Côte d’Ivoire (1983 to 1985), counsellor and consul for La Francophonie at the Embassy of Canada to France (1989 to 1993), counsellor and consul for the political section at the Embassy of Canada to the Republic of Korea (1996 to 1998) and as counsellor for communications and public affairs at the Embassy of Canada to France (1998 to 2002). At Headquarters, he served as departmental assistant to the minister of external affairs (1985 to 1988), assignments officer (1988 to 1989) and director of the Francophonie Division (1993 to 1996 and 2003 to 2005). From 2005 to 2008, he was Canada’s ambassador to Lebanon. From 2008 to 2012, Mr. de Lorimier served as Canada’s ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg and Canada’s representative to the Council of Europe. He has served as ambassador to Mali since 2012.

Chantal de Varennes (BA [Political Science and Economics], Laval University, 1982; Certificat [International Administration], École nationale d’administration publique, 1994) joined the Department of External Affairs in 1982 as a foreign service officer. Between 1983 and 1992, she served abroad at the United Nations in Geneva, then in Paris, Caracas and Lima. She returned to Ottawa and worked in human rights, becoming chief of External Affairs and International Trade Canada’s Threat Assessment Unit in 1993. From 1995 to 1999, she was first secretary and consul in Dakar and then returned to Ottawa to work in human resources. From 2001 to 2003, she became counsellor and consul in Algiers and then returned to Ottawa in 2003 to become deputy director in the Francophonie Affairs division. From 2007 to 2011, Ms. de Varennes was counsellor responsible for La Francophonie in Paris. She has served as ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire since 2011.

Cassie Doyle (BA [Sociology], University of Victoria, 1976; MA [Social Policy and Administration], Carleton University, 1983) was appointed deputy minister of natural resources in June 2006. Ms. Doyle has several years of executive experience at the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government in Canada. Before joining Natural Resources Canada, she served as associate deputy minister of Environment Canada. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. Prior to joining the federal government, Ms. Doyle held a number of senior positions in British Columbia’s government, including chief executive officer of British Columbia Assets and Land Corporation, and deputy minister of environment, lands and parks. She began her public service career working in housing and urban development with the City of Ottawa. Ms. Doyle has served as consul general in San Francisco since 2010.

Deborah Lyons (BSc Honours, University of New Brunswick, 1971; National Defence College, 1993) was a successful small-business owner for seven years prior to joining the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Resources (now Natural Resources Canada) in 1983. In 1986, Ms. Lyons joined the Privy Council Office as a senior policy analyst. From 1987 to 1999, Ms. Lyons worked with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), first as director for business networks, then as director of policy and planning, and lastly as director of trade and technology. During her time with ACOA, she briefly left to join the Department of National Defence and took part in a year-long study program at National Defence College. In 1999, Ms. Lyons joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and was assigned to Tokyo as counsellor for high-tech industries. She returned to Ottawa in 2004 to become director for international finance and then director general of the North America Commercial Bureau. In 2009, she was promoted to assistant deputy minister for policy and planning and filled the new position of chief strategy officer. She then served as deputy head of mission at the embassy in Washington, D.C. until 2013. Ms. Lyons has served as ambassador to Afghanistan since 2013.

Thomas MacDonald (BA, Queen’s University; MA, University of Calgary) joined the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce in 1974 and has served abroad in Mexico City, Brussels, London, Buenos Aires and Sydney. In Ottawa, he has held a range of senior positions in several departmental headquarters (Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, the Department of Industry, and the Ministry of State for Economic and Regional Development). He has served as director for GATT Affairs, director general for the Export and Import Permits Bureau (now the Trade Controls and Technical Barriers Bureau), director general for U.S. Trade and Economic Policy, and deputy head of Canada’s Mission to the European Union in Brussels, minister (commercial/economic) at the High Commission in the United Kingdom, Canada’s alternate director to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and director general for Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. He has represented Canada in numerous bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations, including as Canada’s chief textile negotiator, a NAFTA negotiator, and as lead negotiator for the 1996 Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber Agreement. From 2001 to 2004, he served as ambassador to Argentina and Paraguay, and from 2007 to 2011, as consul general in Sydney, Australia. He also managed files related to Canada’s engagement with Libya and served briefly as chargé d’affaires in both Tripoli and Brunei. Mr. MacDonald has served as ambassador to Saudi Arabia since 2012.

Ivan Roberts (BA [Economics], Queen’s University, 1979) began working with the Canadian International Development Agency in 1989, in the International Humanitarian Affairs Division, after 10 years of experience in advisory and officer positions with various government organizations, including the Bank of Canada, Agriculture Canada, Supply and Services Canada and Industry Canada. In Canada, he served as senior analyst in the Andes Program from 1994 to 1998, as manager of the Nigeria Program from 2001 to 2004 and as director of the Gulf of Guinea Program from 2004 to 2008. Abroad, he served as first secretary in Harare from 1991 to 1994, as head of aid and counsellor (cooperation) in Lima from 1998 to 2001 and as director of the Senegal Program and counsellor (cooperation) in Dakar from 2008 to 2011. He has served as ambassador to Burkina Faso since 2011.

Lisa Stadelbauer (BA [Administrative and Commercial Studies], University of Western Ontario, 1988) joined External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1990. Her first assignment abroad was in 1992 to Tel Aviv, and she later served in Hanoi as counsellor, then in Oslo as counsellor and consul. In Ottawa, she worked with the India, Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal and Bhutan Desk, the Middle East Peace Process Coordination Group and the United Nations and Commonwealth Affairs Division. Until 2011, she served as director of the Eastern and Southern Africa Division and deputy to Canada’s Africa Personal Representative to the G-8. She has served as ambassador to Zimbabwe since 2011.