Huw Williams

President

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.


Michael Hatch

Senior Vice-President

Michael Hatch is a Senior Vice President for Impact Public Affairs specializing in financial policy and economics. Michael has extensive public sector experience, having served three years as an economic policy advisor on Parliament Hill. He is a frequent commentator on public policy issues on Business News Network and in other major TV, print and broadcast media. He has also been a featured speaker at major events including the Vancouver Board of Trade Economic Growth Forum. Most recently, he worked for a Big-Four accounting firm as a consultant, advising multinational clients on matters relating to multi-jurisdictional tax and compliance issues. Michael holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Toronto and is fluently 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.


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.


 

Mario Lavoie

Senior Vice-President, Public Affairs (Quebec)

Mario Lavoie has been involved in politics and public affairs for the last 30 years. He has worked in government as the former Director of Operations for a Cabinet Minister in Ottawa, and in Quebec where he worked with different levels of governments within Canada and in other countries. His approach in government relations is to understand, simplify and convince, and as a strategic advisor he is recognized for his ability to synthesize complex issues and topics.

Mario served as an advisor to the Premier of Quebec from 2003 to 2012, and his responsibilities included working in Canadian intergovernmental relations and international relations. In this capacity, he worked on several major projects such as the Canada Health Care Agreement between the provinces and the federal government, the economic partnership between Canada and Europe, the Plan Nord, GST-QST harmonization negotiation and on the creation of the states and regional alliances on climate change.


Michael Powell

Director, Government Affairs and Strategic Communications

Michael’s professional experience includes campaign roles with the Federal Liberal Party organizing campaign events in targeted ridings and special events with the Prime Minister’s Tour. He has previously worked as a professional researcher in a variety of fields, with his work having been published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. Michael has managed major advocacy campaigns for Canada’s most prominent trade associations and worked extensively with Canada’s largest corporations. In addition, he has toured the country with major media outlets on behalf of Impact’s clients. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts with combined Honours in History and Political Science from Carleton University.


Cynthia Waldmeier

Director, Communications and Public Affairs

Cynthia has extensive experience in working with some of Canada’s largest non-profit organizations and leading business groups. This includes leading national and international award winning public relations and government advocacy campaigns for clients in the health and sports sectors. She has travelled across the country coordinating public affairs initiatives in several different provincial capitals and is extremely well versed in organizing events on Parliament Hill. Cynthia has worked as a media spokesperson for a variety of different organizations, specifically in the tourism and hospitality sector where she appeared in Newsweek, Fox News and NBC News. She currently serves as spokesperson for a women’s addiction centre and regularly appears on television and on the radio in support of the organization’s many initiatives. Cynthia holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Sociology from Queen’s University, and a Masters of Arts in Communications from the University of Ottawa.


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.


 

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.


Kyle Larkin

Manager, Public Affairs

Kyle specializes in government relations, public relations and policy research. He manages and executes public affairs strategies for national organizations, achieving short-term and long-term objectives. 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.


Charlotte Webber

Government Affairs Associate

Charlotte brings to Impact a strong background in policy, business analytics, and communications from various federal departments such as the Department of Global Affairs Canada, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, and Public Services and Procurement. Along with her public sector experience she brings a strong understanding of politics. Her experience includes work on federal and municipal electoral campaigns, most recently playing a leadership role on the 2015 campaign of a newly-elected Liberal Member of Parliament. She is well-versed in strategic communications, campaign management, government relations, and executing political events. Charlotte holds a Bachelor of Social Science in Political Science from the University of Ottawa and a Masters in Political Management from the prestigious Clayton H. Riddell program at Carleton University.


 

Emily Gale

Public Affairs Coordinator

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.


Valerie Thibault

Public Affairs Coordinator (Quebec)

Based in Impact’s Quebec City office, Valerie is well versed in the intersection between public affairs and media relations, having worked at the provincial legislature coordinating special events for stakeholders and political decision makers. Valerie also has significant experience working with large corporations, particularly during her time with the NHL assisting in communications support and event management for the Quebec Nordiques. With over 20 years of experience organizing events featuring high-level executives in different cities across Canada and the US, Valerie provides important insight and tactical expertise to the Impact team.

Michael Hutchison

Advocacy Coordinator

Michael’s professional experience covers government relations, communications and logistics at a number of national organizations, where he has shown the ability to develop and maintain key relationships while delivering high quality results. Before joining the team at Impact, he worked on various publicity campaigns, including those for the Just For Laughs festivals in Montreal & Toronto, as well as the Governor General’s Book Awards. Michael has a strong background in event planning and media relations; demonstrating his skills through the generation of international press coverage for a wide range of clients.

Michael is a proud alumnus of Western University, where he graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Media, Information & Technoculture, while also having spent time studying at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.


David Gakwerere

Policy Advisor

David brings to the team a vast experience in policy, public relations, event planning, and civic engagement. He has a strong understanding of the interaction between politics and policy, with a proven track record in effective and efficient results delivery.

David’s academic and professional experiences focus on parliamentary systems and procedure, policy development, program evaluation as well as sustainable governance practices. For three years, he worked for the Procedural Services and Journals branch of the House of Commons, where he interacted daily with Members, Clerks, as well as the Speaker of the House and other Procedural and House officers.

He is also greatly involved in local and national Francophone communities, taking part in public speaking, debating and case competitions on regional, provincial and international levels. He has also served on multiple not-for-profit boards and councils.

David is fluently bilingual and studied at the University of Ottawa, completing a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Public Administration and Political Science.


 

Stephanie Chong

Director, Finance and Administration

Prior to joining the team, Stephanie worked at a national public accounting firm. She has extensive experience in finance and administration having worked with both non-profit and for-profit organizations. Her expertise is primarily in accounting and tax acquired through her work with a variety of clients in the consulting and professional industries.

Stephanie is a graduate of Carleton University and completed her degree in Art History with a minor in Business.


Mathieu O'Brien

Graphic Designer and Branding Expert

Mathieu is an experienced bilingual expert in multimedia design and web marketing. He has broad experience delivering projects across all social media platforms including YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. He has run programs to create and engage millennial audience bases and beyond.

Mathieu brings his skills as a well-rounded designer able to work with a variety of software needed to produce creative products for any project. He has expertise in video production both shooting and editing and has conceptualized, designed, and implemented user interfaces in games and applications including mobile apps and websites. He is a graduate of the Interactive Multimedia & Design program at Carleton University.


Bill Smith

U.S. Advisor

Bill Smith is Impact’s U.S. Advisor. He has a long history of service to the current Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence. Smith managed Pence’s successful Congressional campaign in 2000 and then served as Pence’s Chief of Staff for Pence’s entire congressional career (2001-2013). He then went on to serve as Pence’s Chief of Staff in the Indiana Governor’s Office (2013-2014). Throughout his time with Pence, Smith was also a senior advisor and director of multiple campaigns and strategic initiatives.

Prior to his service with Pence, Smith was the founding director of the Indiana Family Institute, a public policy organization dedicated to the strengthening of family life in the Hoosier State. He led the non-profit organization as its executive director for more than a decade. He also hosted a daily radio talk show called “Indiana Family Forum” and edited a monthly newsletter with a readership of more than 20,000 households. Smith has also advised not-for-profit organizations on how to improve their management structure, communications strategies, and board development. He also serves as the president and chairman of the board for The Attic Theatre, Inc, a local non-profit theatre guild.

Smith is the recipient of several commendations and awards, including the Indiana National Guard’s Distinguished Service Medal and Indiana’s Sagamore of the Wabash.