Canada’s Foreign Service Awards Celebrate their 30th Year

Last night, the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) held the 30th annual PAFSO Awards gala dinner at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa. First established in 1989, the awards recognize the achievements of Foreign Service Officers in the departments of Global Affairs Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

“I am very proud to be here to celebrate 30 years of the PAFSO Awards, which honour the outstanding work of our colleagues in preserving and promoting Canadian interests abroad, and serving Canadians, often under very difficult circumstances,” said Pam Isfeld, President of PAFSO. “This year, the absence of our friend and colleague, Michael Kovrig, currently being held in a Chinese prison, is a stark reminder of the dangers faced by the foreign service community. As we celebrate the excellent work of our award winners, we remember Michael and call for his release.”

The recipients of the 2019 PAFSO Awards are:

Patricia Atkinson, Head of the Venezuela Task Force, has been key to designing and implementing Canada’s strategy to promote democracy and defend human rights in Venezuela while positioning Canada as a hemispheric leader.

Patricia, and the superb team she assembled and led, supported the Minister’s engagement and played key roles in the substance and organization of 11 meetings of the 13 country Lima group which coordinates action on Venezuela.  She assisted in developing three rounds of sanctions against the regime and spearheaded work leading to a $53million aid package for Venezuelan victims and impacted neighbouring countries.  She has provided sensitive support to the Embassy in Caracas during this difficult period.

For demonstrating the highest levels of strategic thinking, leadership and team management Patricia Atkinson is a recipient of the 2019 PAFSO Award.


In Beijing, Foreign Service Officer Malcolm Campbell led the design of CAN+ an innovative program to streamline visa issuance for low risk travellers. This resulted in 40% of applicants receiving expedited processing thus freeing up visa officers for more complex cases.

During Operation Syrian Refugees, Malcolm created a system that consolidated information on Syrian refugees from disparate sources so operations centres in Beirut and Canada could share the processing.

Returning to Ottawa in 2017 Malcolm coordinated a disparate team that designed “Chinook” a tool to improve thousands of temporary resident decisions. While providing access to more data, facilitating work sharing and enhancing consistency, Chinook delivered a 25% productivity gain and improved officer moral and confidence. Malcolm’s expert knowledge, deft coordination, and sensitive communications ensured success.

For his outstanding creativity, technical virtuosity and superior communications skills, innovation leader Malcolm Campbell receives the 2019 PAFSO Award.


As Deputy Director, Family Unit in Consular Operations, Suzanne Elliott manages a demanding portfolio, consistently demonstrating high levels of initiative and creativity, dedication to Canadians, acute intercultural effectiveness and a unique ability to inspire others.  Suzanne’s team provides consular services to Canadian children who have suffered abuse or have been abandoned abroad and cases of international parental child abduction.  Her team has returned hundreds of children to Canada over the past four years.

Many of the cases Suzanne managed involved women subjected to gender-based violence and/or were in imminent physical danger.  There is often no room for error and frequently only a single chance to intervene.

For her unfailing commitment to assisting desperate Canadian children, women and families and for pioneering new ways to extend Canada’s consular reach to the most vulnerable, Suzanne Elliott is awarded the PAFO Award for 2019.


The members of the 2019 Panel of Judges were: Dr. Roland Paris (Chair), Ms. Anne Arnott, Mr. Yves Brodeur, Dr. Linda Duxbury, Mr. Tom MacDonald, and Emmanuelle Latraverse.

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