2007 PAFSO Award Recipients

left to right: Gilles Poirier, Dina Santos and Bernie Etzinger (Absent: Gavin Buchan)

The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2007 PAFSO Canadian Foreign Service Officer Awards presented on June 14, 2007 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

Gavin Buchan, Canada’s Political Director for the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan has been honoured as a PAFSO Award winner for successfully taking on one of the most dangerous and difficult assignments in the Canadian Foreign Service. He has mastered the complexities of local politics and how political personalities and trends intersect with economic forces and security concerns. He has learned the language and cultural traditions of Afghanistan and has led Canada’s efforts to engage local leaders in Kandahar, establishing a network with political tribal figures, civil society and international actors. Gavin has worked closely with the Canadian military in addition to living with them. He provides the Canadian government with timely meaningful reporting, to help guide policy making regarding Kandahar and Afghanistan. Gavin was called upon to replace Glyn Berry as Political Director in Kandahar following Glyn’s death in early 2006 following an explosion which destroyed the vehicle he was travelling in. Gavin has taken up this challenge with initiative, creativity and dedication to serving Canada and Canadians.

Bernard Etzinger was chosen for a PAFSO award for making a lasting impact on how Canada works in the United States, on how Canada presents issues to American audiences, and how Canada mobilizes support within the USA to achieve Canadian goals. During three postings to the United States of America – as Consul, Cultural Affairs, at the Consulate General in New York, as Consul in San Jose, California, and currently as Head of Public Affairs at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. – Bernie has been innovative and delivered results in the field of public diplomacy and public affairs. Bernie is skilled at conceiving, designing and delivering messages through web-based tools and has used these tools to get the Canadian message out in competitive environments. Bernie has dealt with the public diplomacy aspects of many delicate moments in the Canada-US relationship such as Canada taking its own course regarding the US-led invasion of Iraq, the discovery of BSE in Canada, missile defence, and softwood lumber. In dealing with these delicate and critical issues, Bernie is able to distil the essence of Canadian messaging and ensure that the correct message is received by decision makers.

Gilles Poirier has been honoured this year as a winner of the PAFSO Award for his skill and ability at promoting Canadian interests in Algeria as Commercial Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy in Algiers. He has used his deep understanding and appreciation of the local culture and his skill at working in this environment to heighten the profile of Canada and Canadian business. In using his tenacity, creativity and persuasive talents to utilize events such as the Governor General’s visit to Algeria, where he engineered the announcement of a new Algiers-Montreal direct air route, he has been able to ensure Canadian business is able to penetrate the Algerian market. His skills and knowledge have been attained through 30 years of hard, dedicated work in the Foreign Service. In addition to being a client focussed officer, he is a mentor and coach to the members of the team. His Ambassador relies on his loyal, steady performance and his calm under pressure to move forward the work of the Embassy on all fronts.

Dina Santos, Consul and Trade Commissioner for Science, Innovation and Technology at the Canadian Consulate General in New York, has been selected as a PAFSO Award winner for her initiative, creativity, and deep sense of service to Canada as one of Canada’s first Technology Partnering Officers in the USA. Dina has broken new ground in identifying opportunities for Canadian clients in emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, photonics and fuel cells. She promotes cross border technology partnerships and research collaboration as well as assisting early stage Canadian innovators raise venture capital. She has a natural ability to work within the “innovation culture” surrounding her position and has won the trust of numerous Canadian clients. Dina is a strong team player in the Consulate and has become a model to staff throughout our missions in the USA based on her dedication and ability to engage in the knowledge based industries that are of critical importance to Canada’s future economic development and competitiveness.

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