sabine soumare

Sabine Soumare - Co-President

Sabine Soumare is the founder and president of dBrief Consulting, communication, marketing, and public affairs firm. With a Master's degree in Marketing from the Ecole Supérieure de Gestion in Paris, Sabine was the communications advisor and spokesperson for the Minister of Francophone Affairs in the provincial government from 2015 to 2018. Her experience in communications and public relations led her to teach public relations and marketing at La Cité College. As someone involved in the Francophone community since arriving in Toronto, she began her career by creating and managing the Communications and Community Relations Department at the Centre Francophone du Grand Toronto.

She is currently a member of the Board of Directors for Alliance Française Toronto and a volunteer facilitator at Skills for Change, an organization that helps newcomers find employment. A sports enthusiast, she was a member of the Francophone committee for the Pan American Games in 2015.

 

jessica watkins

Jessica Watkins - Co-President

Jessica Watkins brings over a decade of experience working in professional resources and legal talent management. As a national director for professional resources, Jessica is responsible for setting the strategic direction for legal professionals as it relates to career development, compensation, performance management, talent acquisition, and engagement. Jessica also works closely with her firm's Inclusion & Diversity Committee and is part of the team who won at the Canadian HR Awards in 2018 for the development of the firm’s 1L Indigenous Internship Program. Jessica is a lifelong learner, having gained additional degrees in human resources, workplace investigations, and most recently completed an MBA Skills Certificate with the London School of Economics. She is both a member of the Law Society of Ontario and the Human Resources Professionals Association.

 
 
 

Hélène Asselbergs

Solange Strom - Vice President

Visionary consultant, former CEO, and entrepreneur with a proven track record of growth through employee-centric strategies, Mrs. Strom has more than 20 years of experience leading international brands.

She has held several CEO positions, beginning with L’Occitane Canada from 1998 to 2009, followed by Repetto Paris in New York, where she developed and implemented their North American strategy.

By holding management positions at Boiron Pharmaceuticals, she refined her vast experience in business development, branding, and leadership.

Mrs. Strom has been a foreign trade advisor for the French government since 2010, a member of the board of directors, as well as president at the French Chamber of Commerce in Toronto. She is the recipient of France’s Ordre Nationale de Merite.

Mrs. Strom also possesses French and Canadian dual citizenship, is fluent in English, French, and Spanish, and has an MBA from McGill University.

 

Gille Comeau

Gilles Comeau - Treasurer

Gilles is an experienced corporate lawyer that regularly advises on complex commercial and financial transactions. He is currently a partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, where he has developed a broad practice in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, secured lending, capital markets, and corporate governance.

Gilles holds a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Université Sainte-Anne, a Masters degree in Business Administration from the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa, and a Doctorate in Law from the University of Ottawa. He is also licensed as a Barrister and Solicitor with the Law Society of Ontario.

 
 

Solange Strom

Pierre Ouellette - Secretary

Pierre Ouellette is a rector at the Université de l’Ontario français since July 2021.

Led by an entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrating leadership and creativity, Pierre Ouellette has nearly 25 years of experience in a variety of fields, including 15 years in the university sector. Throughout his career and community engagement, Mr. Ouellette has had the opportunity to work with teams dedicated to delivering engaging projects, such as when he was the Director for Radio-Canada Ontario between 2016 and 2021. Under his leadership, regional stations grew in popularity, which was partly due to the digital shift that he led. He experienced the same success in the 90’s when he created French and bilingual weekly newspapers for Northern Ontario.

His strong ability to develop an engaging and encouraging vision—both in a team and with stakeholders—allowed him to perfect and transform the organizations he had worked in, such as Université de Hearst when he worked as a sociology and history professor, vice-president of education, and ultimately as president of the university. His main mandate: increase student clientele. To do so, he worked with a team to develop and implement new strategies, profoundly transforming the university with innovative pedagogy and programs. L’Université de Hearst has been thriving ever since.

 

 

Members

François Blanc

François Blanc is an IT professional with over 25 years of experience. A graduate from the École Polytechnique de Paris (class of 1986), he also has a Master’s of Science in Engineering Management from Stanford University. After a career working in large tech companies (IBM, Nortel, etc.), he is now an independent consultant specializing in geographic information systems and geomarketing.

He lives in Toronto with his bilingual family, loves French culture, and takes part in the Francophone culture of Toronto.

 

Robin Ferré

Robin Ferré is an Executive Search Consultant at Leaders International. He specializes in executive and board recruitment.

Previously, he worked in various organizations in France and Canada, in functions related to human resources and recruitment. In particular, as a team leader, he participated in the creation and development of the talent acquisition department of a major humanitarian organization, the Canadian Red Cross.

Robin holds a Bachelor's degree in Law and a Master's degree in Human Resources. Originally from France, Robin champions the benefits of bilingualism and the opportunities learning a new language can bring to your personal and professional life.

 
 

gail lord

Estelle Chen

Estelle is Manager, FinTech Partnerships in the Investments and Partnerships | External Ecosystems team at TD, responsible for leveraging fintech and knowledge on emerging trends, identifying new partnership opportunities and supporting the acceleration of emerging business models. 

Curious and active in her community, Estelle has been coaching young leaders and entrepreneurs since 2014. She is also involved in several non-profit organizations, as a member of the board of directors, speaker and member of the advisory board - notably as Co-Founder & Co-President at La French Tech Toronto which brings together French and Francophone tech entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors, academics and French and Canadian government officials. 

Rocked to the sound of concertos since her birth, Estelle chose the piano as a passion at the age of 4 and with determination and perseverance, she realized her concertist dream at the age of 12 with Chopin's Concerto for Piano no.1 then Rachmaninoff's Concerto for Piano no.2 shortly thereafter alongside her grandfather, a renowned conductor in China.

 

gail lord

Laurence Cohen

For the last 6 years, Laurence Cohen has been working for a large consulting organization first as an experienced Supply Chain consultant and since 2021, in a senior Human Resources role in which she partners with the leadership team across all aspects of talent strategy and performance management. 

Prior to this role, Laurence spent 15 years in leadership roles in Supply Chain and Operations in the Aerospace and Transport industries.

Laurence is passionate about cross-cultural experiences and has lived in 4 different countries – France, US, Singapore, and Canada.

A dual French and Canadian citizen, fluent in French and English, Laurence has been calling Toronto home since 2013.

 

Pierre Ouellette

Nadia Chegrinec

Nadia Chegrinec joins the Board of Directors of L'Alliance Française de Toronto after having

spent 9 years on the Board of Directors of the Garderie Le Petit Chaperon Rouge, including 4 of those years as President. She is passionate about the French language, and her 3 children are part of the Viamonde and MonAvenir school boards. In addition, Nadia has been a member of the Canada Post marketing team for over 20 years and has participated in hundreds of integrated B2B initiatives and events for corporate clients. Her primary focus is managing the support of the sales team, and is responsible for the most appropriate tools, content and training to effectively support business customers on their journey to success.

 

 

 

 

paul perron

 Damien Véran

Damien Véran is Senior Vice President, Head of Canada & Latin America at Magnite (NASDAQ: MGNI). Magnite is the world's largest independent advertising platform for publishers. In 2018, Damien successfully sold SlimCut Media, an advertising company he had fouketing background working for 10 years in brand management at companies such as Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo and Mars.

Passionate about tech, Damien is advising and investing in startups in Canada, US and France. He is a co-founder and board member of French Tech Toronto.

Since 2016, Damien has been appointed Foreign Trade Advisor by the French government.

Both Canadian and French, Damien holds a master’s degree in engineering specializing in telecommunications and a master’s degree specializing in marketing from HEC Paris.

 

 

paul perron

 Johanne Franklin

Johanne is an experienced lawyer who acts as Senior Legal Counsel, Senior Manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, a professional services firm. She specializes in corporate and commercial matters as an in-house counsel. Previously, Johanne worked for various global corporations, law firms and governmental entities. Johanne holds a JD in Common Law and a Bachelor of Civil Law from the University of Ottawa. She also holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the John Molson School of Business of Concordia University.

Johanne is fluent in French and English. She is passionate about languages as such as she enjoys taking language classes in Spanish and Italian. Originally from Montreal, Johanne resides in Toronto since 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

jonathan planté

Gail Lord - Life Member

As the Co-founder and President of Lord Cultural Resources Planning & Management Inc. in 1981, Gail Lord specializes in management consulting, facility planning, organizing expositions, and managing historical, museum, and heritage sites. From 1964 to 1969, she worked as an art critic and feature writer for the Toronto Star.

Between 1968 and 1970, she was a commentator for the weekly national show on CBC, Arts in Review, as well as a history professor at Ryerson University in Toronto.

She was also an instructor in multidisciplinary studies and art history at the University of Ryerson from 1970 until 1975.

From 1980 until 1981, she worked in the Information Branch of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, before establishing Lord Cultural Resources Planning and Management Inc.

She is the author of several books, such as The Manual of Museum Management and The Manual of Museum Exhibitions, as well as a collaborator for Chatelaine, Toronto Telegram, Toronto Calendar, and other publications.

Gail Lord also has a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Toronto (1968-70).

 
 

jonathan planté

Paul Perron - Life Member

As the former Director of University College at the University of Toronto, a semiotics professor, and Head of the French Department at the University of Toronto, Paul Perron is also an author of some 30 books.

Paul Perron holds a Doctorate in French Studies from the University of Bordeaux, after having completed his elementary and secondary education in Manitoba and British Columbia.

He is a member of many boards of directors, such as: Alliance Française (2001-2004), the Policy and Planning Committee, the Nomination Panel, and the Council of Ontario Universities

Paul Perron was also appointed as a Knight of the French Legion of Honor and awarded the Order of Academic Palms Officer Award, in recognition for his contributions to French culture.

 
 

jonathan planté

Bertrand Pous

Bertrand Pous is a career diplomat. He joined the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) in 1994 in the Economic Department (international financial affairs).

Political advisor at the French Embassy in Ottawa (1999-2001), then deputy to the Ambassador to Paraguay (2001-2005), he then served in Paris at the Strategic Affairs Directorate (transversal threats - 2005-2009), then at the General Directorate for Globalization (head of the economic regulation and international trade office - 2009-2013).

Successively Conseiller de coopération et d'action culturelle in Singapore (2013-2016) and Australia (2016-2020), he developed fruitful cultural, scientific, academic and educational partnerships.

Before coming to Toronto, Bertrand Pous was Délégué aux programmes et aux opérateurs at the Direction Générale de la Mondialisation, in charge of budgetary and human resources for our policy of influence and development aid, as well as relations with the Ministry's main operators (AEFE, Campus France, Institut Français, AFD, Expertise France and CFI).

Bertrand Pous is a graduate of Sciences Po Paris and the École Supérieure de Commerce de Reims..