2016 PAFSO Award Recipients

Left to right: Mona Yacoub, Jacqueline Kalisz, Brigitte Fournier. Absent: Karen Bongard

The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 PAFSO Canadian Foreign Service Officer Awards presented on June 9 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa.



Karen Bongard, Mission Security Sector Specialist, Kabul, Afghanistan, is a Canadian woman working in the security sector in a male dominated society. She earned the admiration of her colleagues, peers and local and international partners for exemplary work during Canada’s term as co-chair of the influential Afghanistan Oversight and Coordination Board (OCB). This involved keeping five Afghan Ministries, four multilateral bodies and dozens of donor countries informed; coordinating the drafting of complex technical documents; and tirelessly negotiating to achieve consensus. She has an exceptional ability to identify, assess and fluidly shift between strategic and tactical perspectives. A US General described her performance as “nothing short of phenomenal” while an Afghan General praised her diplomatic skill and advocacy for women in the security sector. Karen Bongard is awarded the 2016 PAFSO Award for consummate professionalism, excellent judgement, and a remarkable ability to engage, persuade and motivate diverse teams of local and international civilian and military partners.

As Management and Consular Officer (MCO) in Athens, Brigitte Fournier faced daunting managerial challenges. When the Deficit Reduction Action Plan eliminated 8 of 28 local staff positions she ensured affected employees were treated with compassion, fairness and dignity. The transfer of financial functions from Athens to Rome left unbalanced workloads: Brigitte collected best practices, consulted staff, and set out a clear vision that fairly re-assigned work along with service standards to guide the staff. With severe travel restrictions on HQ staff, the decision to acquire a new combined chancery and ambassador’s residence and dispose of the old facilities meant work normally done in Ottawa fell on Brigitte. She negotiated purchase, acquisition and design issues; orchestrated the move to the new chancery; planned the sale of the old residence and the fit up of the new one. Brigitte receives the PAFSO Award for her exceptional planning and managerial skills and inclusive leadership.

Implementing the decision to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in four months took the combined efforts of hundreds of immigration staff and partner agencies. For 14,000 refugees from Beirut, Jacqueline Kalisz’s unique mastery of IRCC’s Global Case Management System (GCMS) was critical. For 11 weeks she generated lists of visas to be issued, cases needing attention and refugees ready for travel. Her lists ensured refugees completed all steps and departed by plane to Canada. Her data provided Ministers and managers with hard information on progress and problems. Her ability to project future flows of cases through the system informed the operational decisions that ensured success. Recognized as a “GCMS Wizard”, Jacqueline embodies the qualities that make the Foreign Service great – initiative, dedication and profound expertise. For her quiet, inspirational leadership and her indispensable contributions to the Syrian refugee project Jacqueline Kalisz is awarded the 2016 PAFSO Award.

Mona Yacoub, Head of the Office of the Canadian High Commission in Kigali, Rwanda, juggles political, consular, trade, development and administrative responsibilities in Rwanda and politically fragile Burundi. During the Burundi crisis, her well planned missions gained information to report on a very complex situation. Consular readiness depends on a network of voluntary consular wardens. When several wardens fled the country, Mona recruited replacements, ensured they were trained and addressed their security worries. She also managed the relocation of Canada’s Honorary Consul’s office in Bujumbura and persuaded Rwandan authorities to allow evacuated Canadians visa free entry to Rwanda. She is effective at diplomatic receptions and official consultations but equally effective in the field, driving dangerous roads to meet consular wardens, monitor projects and expand her contact network. For her courage, sound judgement and determined action on behalf of Canadians in a crisis situation, Mona Yacoub is awarded the 2016 PAFSO Award.

The members of the 2016 Panel of Judges were: Mr. Denis Comeau (Chair),
Mr. Serge April, Mr. Andrew Cohen, Ms Claudette Deschênes and Dr. Linda Duxbury

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