2003 PAFSO Award Recipients

Christopher Alexander and the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark

Christopher Alexander is being honoured with a PAFSO Award this year for his outstanding performance during his three years on posting in Moscow, in what has been an period of intense development of Canada-Russia relations. During this period, the mission has experienced roughly two dozen ministerial visits, the development of closer relations in the war on terrorism and international crime and the creation of the $100 million dollar per year Global Partnership Program. As the Embassy’s second in command, Christopher has played a key role in heading the political section and coordinating a broad spectrum of mission management tasks, including administration, trade development, defence, criminal and security and immigration programs. His superb performance in this demanding role has showcased his organizational talents and negotiating skills, whether in the follow-up to the Chechen hostage crisis, in acting as liaison for the G-8 in Kananaskis, as point person for the Team Canada 2002 visit to Russia, or in dramatically improving living quarters and morale for staff in Moscow. His outstanding work and positive approach to what has been an unceasing round of challenges has made him a most worthy recipient of this Award.

David Manicom and Scott Mullin (TD Bank Financial Group)

David Manicom has been selected to receive a PAFSO Award this year for his exceptional performance since he joined the Foreign Service in 1989, particularly exemplified in his most recent posting to Beijing, where he has served since 1999 as Deputy Program Manager and Operations Manager in the Immigration Section. As Operations Manager for Canada’s second largest and highest profile visa office abroad, David manages over 100 locally engaged staff, and is responsible for a $600,000 office budget, as well as for the issuance of over 70,000 temporary resident and 25,000 immigrant applications last year. David’s outstanding management skills and innovative initiatives have enabled this high-profile post to meet targets, eliminate backlogs and greatly improve processing times. His personal engagement, communications skills and analytical turn of mind have been critical to advancing Canada’s political and humanitarian objectives abroad and to the development of new immigration and refugee protection legislation in Canada. And while managing all of this, David has also managed to publish two books of award-winning poetry. This Award is offered in recognition of David’s many talents and abilities – the best of what the Foreign Service can offer.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Strategic Recce Team in Kabul. l to r: Wendy Gilmour, Major-General Andrew Leslie, Rolando Rahamondes, Eileen Olexiuk, Hafeez Yakooba and Lt. Col. Dennis Thompson

Eileen Olexiuk has been selected for a PAFSO Award in recognition of the exceptional initiative, analytical skill and unflagging dedication she has demonstrated in her work in Afghanistan since September 2002. Until Eileen’s arrival in Islamabad in September 2002, Canada had only dealt with that country remotely from Islamabad. Eileen undertook to develop a rich network of contacts on the ground in circumstances of extreme difficulty. Her ability to open doors has enabled her to interact with Afghanistan’s future leaders and has led to the development of new initiatives involving multiple Canadian government agencies and departments. This unprecedented level of cooperation is reflected in Canada’s decision to roll out our largest bilateral development program and to deploy some 3000 troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission. In short, Eileen has played a pivotal role in making sure that all parties involved are working together to contribute to a brighter future for Afghanistan.

Ron Willson and Robert Blackburn (SNC Lavalin)

Ron Willson, currently on posting in Abuja, Nigeria, has been selected for a PAFSO Award on the strength of his exceptional career achievement over 27 years in the Foreign Service and more particularly for his outstanding work in extremely challenging circumstances in Zimbabwe from 1999 to 2002. Ron’s tenure in Harare saw challenges ranging from floods to elections to civil war; a deteriorating political situation, ever-increasing poverty, collapsing government services, and the ravages of AIDS. To this situation, Ron brought his experience, his formidable judgment and an impressive adaptability. His work throughout the three-year period was outstanding, whether covering meetings of the Abuja group and the G-8, organizing and directing Canadian observer teams both at parliamentary and presidential elections, or dealing with potentially explosive consular cases. His concern for the people of Zimbabwe was always evident and the broad range of contacts he developed gave him a perspective “unique among his peers”. Ron is described as “an exceptional political officer, a nurturing mentor and a compassionate human being”. For all of this he is being honoured with a PAFSO Award this year.

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