Huw Williams


Huw Williams is the President of Impact Public Affairs and specializes in government and media relations. With extensive experience in the print and broadcast media, he has appeared frequently as a corporate spokesperson on CBC and CTV national news. Mr. Williams’ government experience is diverse, having served as Acting Chief of Staff to the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada; as a Senior Special Assistant to the Minister of Constitutional Affairs; and as a Legislative Assistant to the Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly. He also served as an intern to a United States Congressman from the Sixth District of Indiana. Mr. Williams authored “A Government Relations Guide For Directors of Non-Profit Organizations” published by the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE). He also served on the board of directors for the Government Relations Institute of Canada (GRIC). In 2010, Williams was named worldwide Public Affairs Professional of the Year finalist by PRNews Magazine. Williams’ other accolades include the CSAE Griner Award for outstanding “Business Excellence”, one of The Hill Times’ Top 100 lobbyists in Canada, and the Ottawa Business Journal’s “Top Forty under 40 Award” for professional success and community involvement. Mr. Williams holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Ottawa and a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) from the University of Calgary. He has also completed studies at the Université de Tours in France and is bilingual.

Barbara Barrett

Senior Vice-President, Public Relations

Barbara Barrett brings over 20-year of high level public affairs expertise to her clients. Barbara has held senior leadership and executive roles for a Jaguar Land Rover, a leading global automotive company, where she contributed to record sales and record media results. Barbara has worked as the Canadian communications lead with corporate leadership in the UK, and the United States and has implemented and developed communications programs to leverage global sponsorship programs with Formula One Racing, Invictus Games, the Canadian Cancer Society and First Nations groups. Barbara has also led major corporate social responsibility initiatives and acted as the spokesperson for media and public appearances. Barbara has hosted media events in every major continent including unique media programs in South Africa, Mongolia and Argentina. She has organized and served as spokesperson at international auto shows and at some of the largest press conferences in Canada. She has also Chaired the organization of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada Journalist of the Year for over 20 years. Barbara holds an Honours Bachelor of English from Nipissing University and is proud holder of a Black belt in Karate.

Carlos A. Godoy L.

Senior Vice-President, Public and Government Relations

A proven strategist and communicator, Carlos A. Godoy L. is a seasoned Public Relations professional, specializing in media relations, crisis management, government relations and strategic advocacy since 1999.

A former Vice-President for the Quebec Region at Impact Public Affairs from 2012 to 2016, Carlos provided clients with comprehensive public affairs expertise on numerous multidisciplinary files in the automotive, infrastructure, retail, sports entertainment and tourism sectors.

Most recently, Carlos was with TD Bank Group in a business development and public relations management role on the TD Business Banking Segments and Sales Strategy team. Carlos also previously served in various private and public sector positions, including Director of Corporate Affairs at the multinational PR firm Hill + Knowlton Strategies in its Montreal office, Senior Aide to the Speaker of the Quebec Legislative Assembly in Quebec City, and International Media Relations Advisor and Spanish language Spokesperson for the 1st World Outgames Montreal 2006.

Fluent in French, English, Spanish and Italian, Carlos studied Political Science and Agronomy and is an accomplished public speaker.

Catherine Fortin LeFaivre

Vice-President, Social Innovation and Marketing

Catherine is a fully bilingual advocacy and communications practitioner who specializes in non-profit marketing, drawing upon her extensive experience in public relations, digital campaigns, government relations and corporate communications to meet her clients’ complex business objectives.

Over the past 14 years, Catherine played a senior communications role within the House of Commons Administration and Skills/ Compétences Canada, and provided advocacy and marketing expertise to a variety of non-profits including in the social justice, housing, transportation, health, international development, and travel sectors.

Over the past two years, Catherine has been leading Francophone and international initiatives for Equal Voice. Through partnerships with governments and NGOs, she recently traveled to Morocco, Sri Lanka and Mexico City to provide political empowerment best practices to women leaders, and to share her own experiences as a municipal political candidate in Ottawa in 2014.

Catherine is proud that many of the campaigns she led went on to receive national and international recognition. Most recently, the national Housing for All campaign that she co-designed for the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association earned the prestigious CSAE 2016 Award of Excellence. It also resulted in a historic federal government investment of over $11 billion.

Catherine holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from Wake Forest University, where she was a scholarship student-athlete. She also holds a Professional Certificate in Non-Profit Marketing from Carleton’s Sprott School of Business.


Kalene DeBaeremaeker

Director, Strategic Communications

Kalene specializes in delivering effective communication and government relations strategies for national organizations. Her ability to provide creative communication resulted in a 2013 Summit Marketing Effectiveness Award. In addition, her advocacy work contributed to recognition from the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) with the “Associations Make a Better Canada Award.” Kalene has extensive project coordination and events management skills. She has worked on many high profile client events including the Champions of Mental Health Awards and, A Campaign For All Canadians. Her project coordination experience has been primarily focused in the arts and she has worked on many successful film and theatre projects in Canada and internationally. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) degree from York University and is bilingual.

Oumar Dicko

Senior Policy Advisor and Economist

Oumar is a proud Montrealer, who brings years of strategic research and political experience to his current role as Senior Policy Advisor. He has a track record as a thorough and meticulous researcher and analyst who leaves no stone unturned. He has a deep understanding of economics and public policy topped with a proven ability to provide high-quality oral and written analysis on high profile cases.

Oumar is well known in Ottawa, having served in senior policy positions with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and working in the Office of the Minister of National Revenue. In both roles, he dealt with complex nationwide issues that impacted a variety of public policy areas. He has also played a key role as a researcher for a leading think tank and has been involved in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

He holds both a Master degree and a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Economics from the University of Ottawa. Oumar is fully bilingual and is an active member of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves.

Alla Drigola

Director, Advocacy and Digital Engagement

Alla is a savvy political professional who has played prominent roles on successful federal election efforts, party leadership campaigns, and supporting digital communications for a national party. In addition Alla worked in a legislative and communications role on Parliament Hill for a federal Member of Parliament. She is a Vancouver native with deep experience in client services on numerous high profile accounts including Telus and the Whistler Film Festival. She holds a Masters of Political Management from Carleton University, a Public Relations Certificate and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Simon Fraser University.

Rob LeForte

Director, Government Relations and Campaigns

Rob’s professional background includes government relations, communications, and policy roles at leading national industry associations where he has a track record of achieving results and building relationships with decision makers. He has been responsible for the logistics behind some of Ottawa’s largest and most successful annual advocacy days. Rob is a seasoned advocate with a keen understanding of message development and delivery. He has demonstrated effective skills in media relations through numerous television, radio, and print interviews while serving as a not-for-profit spokesperson. He brings his experience in preparing executives for interviews and parliamentary committee hearings. Rob is a proud alumnus of Dalhousie University where he was awarded the Governor’s Award for exceptional contributions in the extracurricular realm in 2011. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Dalhousie and has a Masters in Political Management from the Clayton H. Riddell program at Carleton University.


Christian A. von Donat

Director, Government Relations and Strategy

Christian has extensive experience working in the public sector on Parliament Hill, with a proven track record of delivering results. Through this time, he specialized in communications, policy development, navigating the parliamentary process, and stakeholder engagement. Christian is a well-travelled political strategist, having worked in senior roles on Federal, Provincial, Municipal, and internal leadership campaigns. He also regularly liaised with national and local media, coordinated major events, and planned tours. Christian is proud of his accomplishments in Indigenous affairs, advancing the case for government to government dialogue and working to expand business opportunities with Indigenous partners.

Christian also previously worked at the Liberal Party of Canada as well as at Queen's Park. He graduated from Western University with a Bachelor of Arts with combined Honours in Political Science and German Language and Literature. He is currently pursuing a double Masters of Business Administration from Cornell University and Queens University.

Kyle Larkin

Manager, Public Affairs

Kyle specializes in government relations, public relations and policy research. He manages and executes public affairs strategies for national and provincial organizations, achieving short-term and long-term objectives. Kyle has successfully changed policies at the federal and provincial levels and helped to create the third ever national self-regulated college in Canada. He has also been featured in numerous media publications, including the BBC.

Prior to joining Impact, Kyle worked in numerous offices on Parliament Hill, most notably for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. During his time on the Hill, he drafted caucus meeting reports and remarks for the House of Commons and media panels. He also liaised with several government departments on numerous constituency and national issues.

Kyle has also gained valuable experience working at several different public affairs and policy firms in Ottawa. He has created comprehensive in-depth research reports tailored to the needs of national and international clients. He has also managed the planning and execution of numerous policy events as well as facilitated the development of public affairs strategies by communicating with elected officials, political staff, and senior levels of the public service.

Kyle holds an Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in International Studies and Modern Languages, with a minor in History and is fluently bilingual.

Emily Gale

Manager, Communications and Public Affairs

Emily brings with her a background in government and stakeholder relations, policy development and community outreach. Prior to joining Impact, Emily worked heavily at the provincial and federal levels with government officials and stakeholders to further the post-secondary agenda.

Emily has first-hand experience with the Parliamentary process having worked for a Member of Parliament and the Chair of the House of Commons Health Committee. She has also worked on national campaigns and has a proven track record in media relations.

Emily is a proud alumnus of St. Francis Xavier University where she graduated from with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Development Studies.

Madison Simmons

Director of Operations

Madison joins Impact with over 5 years experience at design and marketing agencies in Toronto and Vancouver, with proven success delivering results to her clients. She has worked with a number of CPG brands to bring cross functional campaigns to life, acting as the connecting piece across retail, digital, design and experiential channels. With her background in Client Services and Project Management, Madison leverages her experience in her role as Director of Operations at Impact.

Madison is driven by meaningful work, building relationships, and making a positive impact on her workplace, colleagues and the community. Madison graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Commerce.


Nicholas Schiavo

Manager, Policy and Government Relations

Nicholas’ professional background includes working as a Policy Analyst with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the G7 Task Force, as an Ontario Global Edge Fellow in Nairobi, Kenya and with the Green Party of Canada during the 2015 federal election. Over the years Nicholas has been fortunate to work with a number of global institutions as a delegate, including the Commonwealth, the World Bank Group and the United Nations.

From 2017-2019, Nicholas served as the Program Director of the Young Diplomats of Canada where he met with officials to develop a stronger youth agenda. In 2018, he was selected as a Future Leaders Connect Fellow by the British Council to develop a long-term policy action plan with the University of Cambridge. Nicholas is passionate about community organizing and was named one of “Canada’s Future Foreign Policymakers” by Open Canada in June 2018.

Nicholas holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours Specialization in International Relations from Western University and a Master of Political Management as part of the Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program from Carleton University.

Richard Mullin

Public Affairs Associate

Richard is a public affairs associate with Impact in Toronto. Richard’s goal-oriented work ethic continuously achieves results for clients.

Richard has experience with municipal, provincial and federal campaign teams, as well as a federal staffer for Members of Parliament. He has effectively utilized campaign skills while helping deliver results for each member and organization he has represented. Richard’s leadership style prioritizes authentic communication and thorough organization that in turn helps in reaching client goals. Developing and growing client’s campaigns is a natural tendency for Richard. He works closely with them in order to create innovative, detailed-oriented communications plans that are tailored to fit their various needs and reach their objectives. Richard holds a Bachelor of Social Science from the University of Ottawa, with Joint honours in Political Science and Communication.

Sydney Cohen-McFarlane

Account Director, Public Relations

Sydney’s strong public relations and social media background makes her a vital asset to her clients. She has worked as a communications specialist with a number of non-profit organizations in the national capital region, where she discovered her passion for policy work. She has experience in strategic event planning, fundraising, and social media campaigns.

Most recently, Sydney coordinated the successful Champions of Mental Health Gala that brought leaders from the political, health, and business sectors in Ottawa together. Sydney’s attention to detail and logistical expertise makes her our resident event specialist at Impact. Sydney holds a Bachelor’s degree from Dalhousie University specializing in Social Anthropology & Sociology with a certificate in Disability Management, and has training from the Algonquin College’s Department of Media and Design in Public Relations Strategies.

Rita Rahmati

Manager, Public Affairs

Rita Rahmati is a seasoned communicator with a depth of understanding about how decisions are made in the highest levels of government.

Her experience includes time with the Prime Minister’s Communications team. In that role she analyzed key media trends and tracked the development of stories while advising the most senior officials on tactics and tools in response. She also served as the managing editor of a community paper, following time served as the news editor, where she honed expertise in learning what makes a good story and decision making in newsrooms. Since joining Impact she has established herself as one of our best communicators in traditional and digital platforms. She has managed the implementation of national social media and earned media campaigns that doubled their year-over-year audience with her contributions. In her spare time, Rita is an avid volunteer and campaigner having helped get candidates elected in ridings across Ontario both federally and provincially. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Minor in Film Studies from Western University, and has completed her studies in the prestigious Clayton H. Riddell Masters of Political Management Program.