Biographical Notes



Jean Lebel (Ottawa, Ontario) – PhD in environmental sciences, University of Québec in Montréal, Québec; MScA in occupational health sciences, McGill University, Montréal, Québec; B.Sc. in biology (ecology), University du Québec in Montréal, Montréal, Québec.

Serving as interim president of IDRC since May 2013. Joined IDRC in 1997 and took on increasingly important leadership roles, including Senior Program Specialist and Senior Program Officer, Program Leader, Director of the Agriculture and Environment Program Area and Vice-President of the Programs and Partnerships Branch. Serves on several boards, including the Oversight Board for Inclusive Growth of the World Economic Forum, the Centre for Global Pluralism, and the Advisory Board of the Economic Forum of the Americas.


Akwasi Aidoo (Ghanaian and American citizen, residing in Gastonia, North Carolina, United States) – PhD in medical sociology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, United States; BA Hons in sociology, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana.

Serving as a senior fellow at Humanity United, based in the United States. Served as executive director of TrustAfrica, an African grant-making Foundation, and held several leadership positions at the Ford Foundation, New York, United States. Serving on the boards of the Human Rights Watch and the Fund for Global Human Rights. Former chair of the board of the Fund for Global Human Rights, the Resource Alliance, and the Open Society Justice Initiative for West Africa. Served on the boards of the Society for International Development, and Oxfam America, among others. Received the Africa Philanthropy Award, Tanzania.

Alex Awiti (Nairobi, Kenya) – PhD in ecosystems and ecology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya; MPhil in environmental studies and BSc in wildlife management, Moi University, Kesses, Kenya. 

Founder and director of the East Africa Institute at the Aga Khan University in Kenya, Nairobi. Serving as adjunct professor at the University of the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, and as adjunct lecturer at Griffith University, South East Queensland, Australia. Former Adjunct assistant professor at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, New York, United States, and former researcher at the World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya.  Served on several academic committees.

Shainoor Khoja (Canadian and British citizen, residing in Dubai, United Arab Emirates) Master’s degree in business administration and health management, City University of London, London, United Kingdom; bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy, St Thomas’ Hospital, London, United Kingdom.

Founder and managing director of Better Business Enterprises, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Founder and former CEO of Austin’s Limited, Poland, and founder of BBE Private Business and Investments, United Kingdom, Canada and United States. Held leadership positions at the Aga Khan Foundation, Syria, and at Roshan Telecom, Afghanistan.

Serving on the Board of Governors of the International Development Research Centre since 2015. Served on the board of Canada World Youth. Received the Babson Changemaker Award and the Hal Tausig Award.

Purnima Mane (Indian citizenship, residing in San Mateo, California, United States) PhD, MPhil and MA in Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India; BA in psychology, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India. 

Serving as a visiting professor at the Centre for Social Research in Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Former president and CEO of Pathfinder International, Watertown, United States. Served in a variety of  senior leadership positions in United Nations organizations in New York, United States, and in Geneva, Switzerland, including the United Nations Population Fund, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the World Health Organization, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Turberculosis and Malaria, and the Population Council. Served on the boards of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the International Journal of Sexual Health, and the American Public Health Association, among others.

Gilles Rivard (Ottawa, Ontario) MA in Economic Geography, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada; BSc in physical geography, Université du Québec at Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Canada.

Serving as consultant and media analyst on international relation issues. Served in a variety of senior positions in the Government of Canada. Formerly Canada’s ambassador and deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, and former ambassador of Canada to Haiti. Served as senior advisor to Global Affairs Canada on UN peacekeeping operations.

Served on the board of Oxfam Québec. Received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Stephen Toope (Cambridge, United Kingdom) – PhD in Law, Trinity College, Cambridge, England; LLB and BCL degrees, McGill University, Montréal, Canada; AB, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.  

Serving as vice-chancellor-elect at the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England. Former director of the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, and former president and vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Served as President and CEO of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, Montreal, and as dean of McGill University’s Faculty of Law, Montreal. Served on the boards of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Universities Canada, and Public Policy Forum, among others.  Received the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, the John Read Medal of the Canadian Council of International Law, and several honorary degrees.  Inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2015.

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