2017 PAFSO Award Recipients

Left to right: Mary Pierre-Wade, David Weiner, the Right Honourable Joe Clark, Andie Daponte and Tara Bickis

The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 PAFSO Canadian Foreign Service Officer Awards presented on June 8 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa.


At our NATO mission, Mary Pierre-Wade spearheads Canada’s Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda to ensure that women’s participation and the rights of women and girls are reflected in NATO Policy. She was a key mover in North Atlantic Council’s review of NATO’s implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 Action Plan, identifying progress and deficiencies in NATO’s gender literacy and the presence of women in leadership. She worked with the Secretary General’s office to maximise the review’s impact, resulting in renewed efforts to address gender in human resource development and integrate gender perspectives in policy development and intelligence analysis. Mary organized meetings of the Group of Friends of Resolution1325 to broaden awareness of the differential effects of conflict on women and girls, including the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war, and led social media events on the Women, Peace and Security agenda. For her determined support of Canada’s Women, Peace and Security agenda Mary Pierre-Wade, is awarded the 2017 Award.

Trade Commissioner David Weiner has achieved outstanding commercial successes for Canada.

In Detroit he reinvigorated the Canada US Business Association, a powerful voice for cross-border trade. He replicated this in Dallas, forming the Canada-Texas Chamber of Commerce. Canadian businesses call his achievements the “Texas Turnaround”. Upon hearing Ford Motor Company might expand its Oakville Assembly Complex, David brought together Canadian Ministers and Ford’s CEO and introduced innovative Canadian automotive suppliers to Ford’s Global R&D centre. Ford subsequently invested $716 million, securing 2,800 jobs. David’s Detroit team serviced 50 such investments. In Dallas, David played a critical role in facilitating Bell Helicopter’s decision to produce the new Jet Ranger 505 helicopter in Mirabel, Quebec, a $45 million investment creating 100 jobs. His teams are inspired by his competence, accessibility and dedication. For significantly advancing Canada’s commercial interests, David Weiner, innovator, leader and mentor, is awarded the 2017 Award.

Canada dramatically increased its Syrian refugee target in October 2015. Refugee Unit Manager Andie DaPonte’s expert knowledge of Turkish procedures and excellent relations with officials allowed him to work within parameters not faced elsewhere in the region. He developed a nimble, paperless, processing model to reach the scattered refugees. Closely managing the process, he conducted the resettlement program like a maestro leading a symphony.

A mix of 25,000 government and privately sponsored refugees arrived by February 29, 2016. Now Middle East Refugee Coordinator, Andie orchestrated the efforts of four offices to meet the new challenge of a commitment to 25,000 government assisted refugees by December 2016. Draconian Turkish exit rules imposed following the failed coup threated the program. Andie accelerated processing in other countries and engaged the Turkish authorities. Processing targets were exceeded; Turkish controls eased. Canadian concern for Yazidi survivors saw Andie in Erbil creating a system that extracted 1200 by year’s end. For his stellar contribution to the largest annual refugee intake ever (46,300) Andie DaPonte receives the 2017 Award.

Arriving in Quito, Ecuador in 2013 as Management Consular Officer, Tara Bickis identified potential threats, including volcano eruptions and earthquakes. She upgraded the Embassy’s emergency readiness, trained staff and dependents, pre-positioned emergency supplies and equipment and established robust relations with Ecuadorian authorities, other embassies and, critically, the large Canadian community. On April 16, 2016 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed 676, and injured over 16,000. Tara and her consular officer arrived at the scene in less than 24 hours. She visited the most affected areas, locating and assisting Canadians and connecting them with worried relatives. She provided compassionate assistance to Canadian families who had lost loved ones. Tara also established a social media link with other embassies that permitted rapid information exchange. For commendable forward planning and outstanding performance in responding to the earthquake of 2016 Tara Bickis is awarded the 2017 Award.


The members of the 2017 Panel of Judges were: Mr. Serge April (Chair),
Ms Anne Arnott, Mr. Yves Brodeur, Dr. Linda Duxbury and Dr. Roland Paris.

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