IRCC Minister Transition Binder 2019: Senior Management Biographies

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Deputy Minister and Associate Deputy Minister Biographies

Assistant Deputy Minister and Associate Assistant Deputy Minister Biographies

Director General (DG) Biographies

Deputy Minister

Catrina Tapley

Ms. Catrina Tapley was appointed Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on August 19, 2019.  Prior to this, she was the Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations), Privy Council Office.

Before joining the Privy Council Office, Ms. Tapley was with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada from 2010-2016, serving as Senior Assistant Deputy Minister for Strategic and Program Policy and as Associate Assistant Deputy Minister. She was responsible for leading Canada’s immigration and citizenship policy pertaining to the selection and admissibility of permanent and temporary residents and refugees, and helping all newcomers integrate into Canadian society and the economy including through Canadian citizenship.

In 2011, Ms. Tapley played a senior role in the creation and negotiation of the Beyond the Border Action Plan as a part of the Beyond the Border Working Group. The Beyond the Border Action Plan is a Canada-United States agreement on economic competitiveness and perimeter security.

Before joining Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Ms. Tapley held numerous positions at the Treasury Board of Canada’s Secretariat. It was during this time that she played an integral role in the policy and legislative process for the development of the Federal Accountability Act. As the Executive Director, Security and Justice Division, she was responsible for management and financial oversight of sixteen different federal departments and agencies in the public security and justice portfolios.

Before 2006, Ms. Tapley held executive positions at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Associate Deputy Minister

Lori MacDonald

Ms. MacDonald is a dynamic and accomplished leader with a track record of success in leading large and complex organizations through challenging transitions. Ms. MacDonald is known as a strong collaborator and an outstanding communicator, insightful and at ease with translating complex issues into actionable concepts. With 36 years of experience in the public service, Ms. MacDonald has held senior leadership roles within the public safety, transportation and immigration portfolios.

Ms. MacDonald was appointed Associate Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship in August 2018. In her current role she is responsible for enriching Canada’s economy and society through world class immigration programs, ensuring the successful integration of newcomers and upholding Canada’s humanitarian obligations. Prior to this appointment, Ms. MacDonald served as Assistant Deputy Minister of the Safety and Security Group for Transport Canada. She held a vast array of responsibilities that ensured the safety and security of our transportation system, including the development and oversight of relevant policies, standards, laws, and regulations, as well as the support and facilitation of a sound safety and security culture that also facilitates economic growth. At Public Safety, Ms. MacDonald was responsible for Canada’s emergency and crisis management responses.

Throughout her career Ms. MacDonald has gained extensive experience developing policies and programs at the local, regional, and national levels of government and working with international partners. She has led and supported ministers in high-level consultations and engagements with provincial, territorial and municipal levels of government.

Ms. MacDonald’s affinity for marginalized groups, her passion for progress, and her enthusiastic leadership have been evident throughout her career. She has championed many projects related to women, Indigenous, and mental health issues and has played a leadership and champion role for the United Way as a 36-year volunteer, both contributing to the raising of millions of dollars in support of united programs and initiatives.

Ms. MacDonald is recognized for playing an active leadership role in developing managerial and leadership capacity among teams and managers in the Government.

Ms. MacDonald holds a diploma in Law and Security Administration from Loyalist College in Belleville and a degree in Criminology with a concentration in Law from Carleton University in Ottawa.

She is a recipient of the Exemplary Service Medal and the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations Sector

Dr. Harpreet S. Kochhar

Dr. Harpreet S. Kochhar was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister of the Operations Sector for Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in July 2017.

Dr. Kochhar joined IRCC from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), where, as Associate Vice-President of Operations, he was responsible for delivering inspection services across the country as well as the management of over 4,000 employees. He has served as Canada’s Chief Veterinary Officer, as well as Canada’s Delegate to the World Organization for Animal Health. Dr. Kochhar was responsible for managing several high profile cases while at CFIA, including the official response to Canada’s largest beef recall (XL foods) in order to ensure the continuing safety of the Canadian food supply.

Prior to joining IRCC, Dr. Kochhar was Associate Professor at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College. He also practiced veterinary medicine as a small animal veterinarian in South Western Ontario.

As Assistant Deputy Minister of Operations at IRCC, Dr. Kochhar is responsible for the delivery of Immigration, Citizenship and Passport programs across Canada and at 60 different missions/offices abroad. He is also leading key strategic projects for the Sector, including the Passport Modernization Initiative, Predictive Analytics, and a major transformation of IRCC’s operational delivery model.

On a personal note, Dr. Kochhar is an active fundraiser for JDRF and contributes to charities such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Mental Health Institute, and the Liver Foundation. He has been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his professional and volunteer contributions, and was recently decorated with the Canada 150 Medal for community services.

Dr. Kochhar is a veterinarian by training (DVM) and has a Master’s Degree in Veterinary Science (MVSc) as well as a Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Animal Biotechnology from the University of Guelph.

He enjoys cooking as well as playing golf, volleyball, and skiing in his spare time.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations Sector

Mike MacDonald

Mike MacDonald was appointed Associate Assistant Deputy Minister in November 2017 and has held that position in the Strategic and Program Policy Sector as well as currently in the Operations Sector.

An employee of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada since January 2014, Mr. MacDonald has held several roles and contributed to significant initiatives including Operation Syrian Refugees, the Ebola Response and Irregular Migration.

Mr. MacDonald joined the Public Service of Canada in 1997 and has worked at Public Safety Canada (PS), the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC), the Solicitor General Canada (Sol Gen) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). In addition to his responsibilities in various Departments and Agencies, he has worked extensively abroad representing Canada in numerous bilateral and multilateral fora as both chair and member of several committees and working groups.

Mr. MacDonald holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Simon Fraser University, 1990, and a Master of Arts degree in Criminology, Simon Fraser University, 1994.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy Sector

Natasha Kim

Natasha Kim is the Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Prior to this, she was Director General of the Immigration Branch at IRCC, which is the branch responsible for policies related to temporary immigration programs and economic and social permanent immigration programs.

Natasha has also served as Director of Operations, Democratic Institutions, at the Privy Council Office (PCO), held various positions at the PCO, Public Safety Canada, and Justice Canada and served as a Law Clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Natasha holds a Master of Laws from Harvard University, a Bachelor of Laws from Dalhousie University and majored in Women's Studies at the University of Alberta.

Natasha was born and raised in Edmonton.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Management Sector and Chief Financial Officer

Daniel Mills

Daniel Mills was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Financial Officer of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in October 2016. Subsequently, M. Mills became the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Corporate Management Sector in January 2019, while maintaining his title of Chief Financial Officer.

An employee of IRCC since 2005, Daniel Mills has held numerous management roles over the years. Among others, he has been Director of Accounting Operations, Director General of Financial Operations, as well as Director General of Financial Management and Deputy Chief Financial Officer.

Mr. Mills has served as a public servant with the federal government since 1994. Aside from his responsibilities at IRCC, he has occupied several positions at the Department of Natural Resources Canada, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Public Service Labour Relations Board.

Daniel Mills is a chartered professional accountant and holds a bachelor's degree in business administration with a specialization in accounting from the University of Sherbrooke. He is also a graduate of the Government of Canada's Career Assignment Program (the “Direxion” Educational Component).

Assistant Deputy Minister, Transformation and Digital Solutions Sector

Zaina Sovani

Zaina Sovani currently holds the position of Assistant Deputy Minister of Transformation, Digital Solutions Sector and Chief Information Officer at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) where she is responsible for leading the department through a major transformational change program focused on improving client experience, operations excellence, digital services delivery and encouraging a new culture of innovation and agility across IRCC. Zaina also holds the position of Chief Information Officer, leading IM/IT strategy and service delivery functions and technologically enabling the business. Her previous role in IRCC was ADM, Corporate Services Sector where she was responsible for HR, Accommodations, IM/IT, Corporate Governance and ATIP.

Over the past 20 years, Zaina has held many executive roles both in the public service and private sector, gaining the reputation of a builder and transformational leader. Past roles include executive positions at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Shared Services Canada (SSC) and the Canadian Commercial Corporation. In addition to her professional achievements, Zaina is actively engaged in the Ottawa community and has served on a number of for-profit and not-for-profit Boards. She has also presented at numerous forums on the topics of leadership and business transformation. Zaina holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from the University of Ottawa.

Assistant Deptuy Minister, Settlement and Integration Sector

Fraser Valentine

Fraser Valentine is the Assistant Deputy Minister, Settlement and Integration. In this role, Fraser is responsible for the development of policies and programs that support the successful settlement and integration of newcomers into Canadian society. Fraser also oversees the effective operational management, delivery and accountability of funding agreements with organizations across Canada who provide a wide range of services to immigrants and refugees.

From 2017 to 2019, Fraser was the Director General of Refugee Affairs at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. In this role, Fraser was responsible for leading the Department’s refugee and asylum policy agenda. He was instrumental in supporting the Government’s commitment to asylum system reform and managing irregular migration, and he has supported Canada in assuming a more prominent international role in humanitarian resettlement.

From 2015-2017, Fraser was the Director General of Strategic Policy and Planning at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. In this role, Fraser was responsible for leading the Department’s strategic policy agenda. He successfully led IRCC in achieving several key milestones, which include overseeing major enhancements to the Express Entry system and setting the foundation for the 2018-2020 Multi-Year Levels Plan. From 2011-2015, Fraser was Chief of Staff to two different deputy ministers at IRCC.

Prior to joining the Department, Fraser held positions at the Privy Council Office, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada.

Fraser is a strong advocate for mental health and wellness. He was also one of the speakers at our Department’s first installment of its “Putting people first” speaker series held in January 2019, where he shared his passion for building mental health and wellness into his life and in helping others do the same.

Fraser holds a Master of Arts degree in Canadian Studies from Carleton University.

Director General, Communications Branch

David Hickey

David Hickey has been Director General of the Communications Branch at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) since 2013.

He first joined the department in 2006 as the Director of Strategic Communications. Since then, he has led on a number of significant changes and initiatives, including drastically growing IRCC’s social media presence and increasing the department’s digital presence, which has become a key source of information and services for clients. He has also held positions at Natural Resources Canada and has been a political advisor at both the Provincial and the Federal levels.

Mr. Hickey has a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University, and worked as a reporter and editor before joining the public service.

Executive Director and Senior General Counsel, Legal Services Unit

Caroline Fobes

Ms. Fobes was appointed Executive Director & Senior General Counsel of the IRCC Legal Services Unit in 2016. The Legal Services Unit is composed of 40 lawyers and paralegals who, in consultation with Justice colleagues in Ottawa and litigation teams across the country, provide all of the day-to-day legal advice to IRCC, including advice on departmental operations, developing new legislation and the conduct of litigation before the courts.

Ms. Fobes has spent most of her career in the national security, policing, correctional and criminal law areas. She began her career at Solicitor General Legal, moved to Justice HQ as Special Counsel to the Assistant Deputy Attorney General (Criminal Law), and then returned to Public Safety Legal where she spent several years, including as Deputy Executive Director & General Counsel. Before coming to IRCC Legal, Ms. Fobes was on assignment as Executive Director and General Counsel of Canadian Heritage Legal.

She holds a Bachelor of Law degree from Dalhousie University and is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

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