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Board of advisors

The School benefits from the input of a Board of Advisors. Members of the Board are active in a variety of public, private, union, and community organizations.

The Board members often act as resource persons for the many activities of the School. They constitute an invaluable source of hands-on expertise and competence that complement the academic component of the School.

The Board’s present strengths reflect the Undergraduate Program’s focus on public policy analysis and advocacy.

Board members are integral to the School’s lifeline to the world. The Board of Advisors is solely composed of members of the SCPA Alumni. The Advisory Board meets two times a year.


Lauren Small

Lauren Small joined the Public Service of Canada in January 1997, and has served in both science and international portfolios. She is currently Director of Quebec Waterways with Parks Canada responsible 5 historic canals including Carillon, Chambly, Lachine, Saint-Ours and Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.

Ms. Small holds a Bachelor's degree in Science and Human Affairs, and the School of Community and Public Affairs (1995), and a Master's degree in Public Policy and Public Administration from Concordia University (1997).  She completed a Graduate Certificate in Air and Space Law at McGill University, Faculty of Law, Institute of Air and Space Law (2014).

Prior to joining the Parks Canada, Ms. Small worked for Environment Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Canadian Space Agency.  Spanning her 20- year career, Lauren has been instrumental in three major legislative projects including the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Species at Risk Act, and the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act.

In addition to her professional achievements, Ms. Small continues to remain active in local issues affecting her community.  Ms. Small performs on stage on an annual basis to raise funds for her local arts community, and has proudly participated in the Terry Fox Run for over 17 years raising in excess of 50k for the Terry Fox Foundation towards cancer research, both as a participant and Coordinator of the Montreal West Terry Fox Run.  She is also a volunteer with the Segal Cancer Centre’s Hope and Cope Program as a Peer Mentor.  Ms. Small is a Board Member for the Montreal West Community Services Council, the Edinburgh Elementary School Governing Board, and is the Founder and Chair of the Montreal West “Bottoms Up” Diaper Drive in benefit of the NDG food depot.

In May 2015, Ms. Small was awarded the Alumna of the Year Award by Concordia University for outstanding professional and personal achievements and was named as one of five Concordia graduates making a difference in the world in 2016.

In November 2012, Ms. Small was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth ll Diamond Jubilee Medal, honouring her continued commitment to improving relations with international partners for over 17 years of public service.

In 2002, in recognition of her continued commitment to community, Ms. Small was conferred the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award at Rideau Hall.

Ms. Small is a member of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) and the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI).

As a native Montrealer, Lauren has reaped the rewards of running along the Lachine canal over the last several years, and was part of Team Canada in the Maccabiah Games half marathon in Israel this past July.

Ilona Dougherty

Managing Director, Youth & Innovation Research Project, University of Waterloo

Ilona is the Managing Director of the Youth & Innovation Research Project at the University of Waterloo. She is a regular commentator in the national media, and speaks to audiences internationally about tapping into the innovation potential of Millennials and Gen Z. In 2004, she co-founded Apathy is Boring, a Canadian non-partisan charitable organization that educates youth about democracy and encourages them to vote. She was named an Ashoka Fellow in 2009, and one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network in 2015.

Jean Charles Robillard

Jean Charles Robillard is currently Director, Corporate Communications at BCE Inc., Canada’s leading communications company. He has more than twenty-five years’ experience in communications and public affairs, and came to Bell after spending eight years in senior roles at the Montréal Exchange and the TMX Group.  Jean Charles also served in a variety of planning and communications positions in private and public sector organisations including Bell, Deloitte, the Québec worker’s compensation board and Concordia University.   He is a current board member of Les Filles électriques, a Montréal production/creative company offering performances, live shows and short films. Jean Charles holds a Master degree in Economics from the University of British Columbia and a BA Honours in Economics and Public Affairs from Concordia University.

Marcel Proulx

Marcel Proulx was a member of the School of Community and Public Affairs from 1984 to 1988, while studying political science at Concordia University. He is a recipient of the Governor General’s Trophy for French language debating. His career has consisted of understanding Canadians by observing their behaviours, asking them questions, listening to what they have to say and analysing their responses. The insights he uncovered informed public policy, aided in reputational and crises management and drove communications, marketing, advertising and branding strategies for a vast array of clients in the private, public and institutional sectors.

Some of the positions Marcel has held have included Director of Qualitative Research with Decima Research in Toronto and Vice-President of Consumer Insights and Strategic Planning with Saint-Jacques Vallée Young & Rubicam Advertising in Montreal. He has been running his own consulting firm for the past 14 years and is particularly proud of having been one of the leads in the rebranding of Concordia University. Over the course of his career, his clients have included the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, and various federal and provincial ministries, CN, Ford, Hydro-Quebec, the Red Ribbon Campaign, the United Way and Le Chaînon.

Marcel has always believed in citizen engagement. He started volunteering his time in national, provincial and local organisations at a young age. Among other things, he co-founded a youth leadership programme, helped organise national exchanges, volunteered in political parties, was a board member of the Park Extension Youth Organisation, and has given guest lectures at the SCPA, Concordia and UdeM. He was part of the SCPA 30th and 35th Anniversary Reunion committees and has most recently been involved in the One Campaign and in the effort to free Concordia Professor Homa Hoodfar.

Bill Varvaris

Subsequent to his academic studies, Bill Varvaris began his professional employment as a policy advisor to the Minister of Natural Resources Canada in the mid 1990’s and reached the post of Chief of Staff to the Minister of Industry.  In 2006, Bill entered the federal public service and currently serves as Director General at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  He is responsible for the Real Property and Environmental Management Directorate which oversees the third largest real estate portfolio within the Government of Canada.

Previously, Bill served as Director in the Real Property Branch at the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada (currently known as Public Services and Procurement Canada).  Bill was seconded for two years (2012-2014) at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (currently known as Global Affairs Canada) and was posted to New Delhi, India, responsible for a variety of real property projects in South Asia. For a period of 3 years commencing in 2009, Bill served as the Executive Director at the Canadian Chambers of Commerce in Japan, based in Tokyo.

Mr. Varvaris holds a BA in Political Science from Concordia University with a diploma from the School of Community and Public Affairs, and an Honours BA in Law from Carleton University.  He also has a Business Certificate from the Japan Market Expansion Program, Tokyo, Japan.

Of special note – Bill is married to a former SCPA alumna, Kathleen Donohue, they live in Ottawa and have two children.

Lex Gill

Lex Gill is a Research Fellow at the Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. Her legal and advocacy work focuses on issues at the intersection of technology, economics, global security and human rights. She is also the former National Security Program Advocate at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, a former Google Policy Fellow for the Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic, and a former researcher and affiliate to the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. She is a two-time alumna of the School of Community and Public Affairs, with a B.A. in Community, Public Affairs and Policy Studies and a graduate diploma in Community Economic Development (French year). She also holds a B.C.L./LL.B. from McGill University’s Faculty of Law.

Margret Andrade

Margaret works as a policy advisor in aquaculture management for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Ottawa. She supports the develop and implementation of a federal aquaculture framework for Canada that supports the development of aquaculture in a sustainable manner, protecting marine ecosystems and conserving wild fish populations. Previously, she has worked for the Canadian Coast Guard as a strategic advisor to the regional director of Incident Management programs, supporting strategic planning and acting as liaison officer for events such as the G7 in Charlevoix. She has also worked as an analyst for the Office of the Chief Human Resource Officer at the Treasury Board Secretariat in Ottawa, supporting the development of senior officials through advice, research, analysis, and for the Canada School of Public Service as a Learning Consultant for Quebec and Nunavut, advising on developmental needs that met new arising local challenges.  She started her career in the federal public service at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, in Montreal, where she worked extensively as a program manager, ultimately discovering a passion for public policy. Her work experience at Citizenship and Immigration led her to pursue an education that supported her interest and values in fields related to social justice.  For years, she was a board member of the Immigrant Workers Center in Montreal where she volunteered and offered a weekly clinic on immigration rights.

She holds a bachelor from Concordia University’s School of Community and Public Affairs (2014) and a Master degree in Political Science, Public and International Affairs, from Université de Montréal (2017). She is passionate about food policy, environmental sustainability and Indigenous issues.  Her experience with the School of Community and Public Affairs offered her the foundation on which her thoughts and actions related to social change are based. She considers it to be her Alma Matter.

Robert Valdmanis

Robert Valdmanis President of RVC Inc., a global strategic communication consulting firm based in Montreal founded in 2012.

Robert brings over 25 years as a senior public affairs professional both domestically and internationally across a broad range of industry sectors.  Prior to founding RVC, Robert held senior consulting roles as Vice President and Partner at Gervais, Gagnon & Associates (GGA) in Montreal, Principal of The Dilenschneider Group  (DGI) in NYC, and as President of GCI Canada, a 40-person PR firm in Toronto.  From 2006 to 2012, Robert was Director of Communications and External Affairs for Alcan (Rio Tinto Alcan), where he was responsible for internal and external communications, media, government, stakeholder and community relations, as well as sustainability, CSR and regional economic development across a multi-billion dollar greenfield growth portfolio on multiple continents.

Robert is a five-time Quebec Wrestling Champion and national medalist, former Montreal PSBGM Chess Champion, a certified yoga teacher and football coach.

He has lived, worked and traveled to over 60 countries, and speaks French, English, Spanish and Portuguese and is a sought after international speaker, invited to venues including Munk School of Global Affairs, McGill University’s Faculty of Law, the Jeanne Sauve International Foundation and the Royal Oceania Institute.

Robert is a board member of Prosper Canada - a not for profit organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for Canadians living in poverty through program and policy innovation.

Dorothy Williams

Dr. Williams has worked as an historian, author, educator, researcher, content developer, and consultant. Dr. Williams specializes in Black Canadian history and has authored three books and contributed to other scholarly and academic publications. Her first book was Blacks in Montreal, 1638-1986: An Urban Demography, was written at the behest of the Quebec Human Rights Commission in 1989, during their study of racism in Montreal’s housing market. Her second work, published in 1997, The Road to Now: A History of Blacks in Montreal, remains the only chronological study of Blacks on the island of Montreal. Her most recent book in 1998, Les Noirs à Montreal, Essai de demographic urbaine, was a translation of Blacks in Montreal.

With a strong afro-centric focused perspective, Dr. Williams’ has penned both popular and scholarly articles in journals, magazines and newspapers about Black culture in Canada.  Dr. Williams has often been invited to present and lecture, as well as to conduct teacher training and librarian workshops. She has also given public presentations in dozens of venues, from bookstores and cafes to community centres, museums and libraries.

As a researcher, Dorothy’s long-term research has concentrated on the creation of popular reference materials about Black history in Canada with the objective of making Black history accessible.

As a content developer, and consultant, her unique historical knowledge is in demand in diverse fields. She has consulted on several films—the most notable by the NFB such as its award winning production of Show Girls, (1998) and Martine Chartrand’s Black Soul/Ame Noire, (2001). She also researched and wrote the content for the website, Historians Recount/Les Historien(ne)s raconent, (October, 2003).

Dorothy grew up in the historic Black community of Little Burgundy in Montreal and acquired over 30 years work and volunteer experience within the community.

Dr. Williams is President of, Inc. which produces the ABC’s of Canadian Black History kit in order to address the need for Black pedagogical resources for educators. Her volunteer work spans over three decades and most recently she has taken on the position of President of DaCosta-Angelique Institute, Quebec’s only Black think-tank.

Her current interests and community service lie in the areas of history, identity and race, family support, book history, mental health, Black empowerment, community economic development, entrepreneurship and inclusive education.

Dr. Williams many years of service have led to recognition and honours, including being named a Quebec Laureate, in 2002 with the conferring of: The Anne Greenup Prize: Le Prix québécois de la citoyenneté 2002, pour la lutte contre le racisme et la promotion de la participation civique. Through the years, other awards and distinctions bestowed: 

  • Canadian Heritage, Government of Canada honour: Black Canadian Women: Stories of Strength, Courage and Vision, 2018
  • Hommage pour la contribution à la préservation du patrimoine historique des communautés noires de Montréal, Bottin Magazine, Montréal, (2007)
  • Women of Merit, Playmas Montreal Cultural Association (2011)
  • Historian of Renown, Centre R.I.R.E. et Ville de Québec (2003)
  • E.J. Josey Scholarship, Black Caucus of the American Library Association (2000-2001)
  • Black History Month Calendar, Ville de Montréal, Table de concertation (1995)
  • The Mathieu da Costa Award, Black Coalition of Quebec  (1993)
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