sabine soumare

Sabine Soumare - Co-President

Sabine Soumare is the founder and president of dBrief Consulting, a communications, 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 organisation 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

Hélène Asselbergs - Vice President

Hélène Asselbergs brings expertise in governance strategy, change management and market growth to boards and management teams of private and public companies in industries that include tech (including cyber security), finance, energy, health and law.

Hélène is currently an executive advisor / fractional CEO for the company, Aspire CFO, where she works with early stage to mature companies in driving their plans for high growth. Hélène’s former executive roles include: General Manager for the Financial Modeling Institute; Executive Director of pan-Canadian operations and Chairperson of the operational review and restructuring for the Canadian Bar Association; fractional CEO start-up and management consulting roles; as well as faculty positions at Osgoode Hall Law School and Seneca College.

Hélène holds a Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School and an Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto. Fully bilingual, Hélène serves on the board of the Alliance Francaise de Toronto as Vice-President of the board.

 

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

Solange Strom - Secretary

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.

 

Members

François Blanc

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 specialising 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.

 

bill graham

Josep González

Dr. Josep González is the Interim Head of School at the Dallas International School and has worked in the education sector for over 30 years in Spain, Great Britain, and Canada.

In 2015, he was appointed as the Head of School at TFS, an international French school offering education based on high intellectual standards and citizenship training, that has also contributed to Canada’s history as a pioneer of bilingualism.

Within the English education system, he led The British School of Barcelona between 2011 and 2015, one of the leading international schools in Spain. Beforehand, he was the Head of Modern Languages & Cultures at Eton College as well as a language and literature professor at the universities of Barcelona, Oxford, and Middlesex (London).

Among his most notable accomplishments, Dr. González participated in creating a national pre-university curriculum in the UK for the Cambridge International Examinations, and has developed a renowned expertise on a wide range of educational matters, including the importance of multilingualism for students to develop an international perspective. Passionate about languages, he is fluent in French, English, Catalan, Spanish, and Italian.

He has been a cultural columnist for different magazines and has published three novels in Catalan.

Dr. González also has a Master’s degree in English literature from the University of Oxford.

 

gail lord

Cédric Lamarche

Cédric is an employment lawyer who represents employers and employees across Ontario in both of the official languages of Canada. Among other things, he advises on a range of legal issues, including: wrongful dismissal, constructive dismissal, human rights, harassment, employment standards, health and safety, contract disputes, restrictive covenants, and shareholder disputes. He takes a pragmatic approach to his practice and is known for his ability to resolve complex issues effectively. Before he founded Singh Lamarche LLP, a firm specialising in employment law, Cédric worked for one of the largest law firms in Canada.

A Franco-Ontarian originating from Eastern Ontario, Cédric comes from a Francophone family and completed his education in French, including his Bachelor of Laws. He has been through several interesting experiences throughout the years that have contributed to his professional and personal development: he was a soldier for the Canadian Armed Forces, a law clerk for judges of the Supreme Court of Canada, and a rafting guide on the Ottawa River. In his free time, Cédric keeps himself busy raising his four children and is proud to do so in his native language.

 

gail lord

Gail Lord - Life Member

As the Co-founder and President of Lord Cultural Resources Planning & Management Inc. in 1981, Gail Lord specialises in management consulting, facility planning, organising 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).

 

Pierre Ouellette

Pierre Ouellette

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 organisations he has 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.

 

paul perron

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

Tudor Alexis

Born in Pondicherry, India, Tudor Alexis came to France in 1991 with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Loyola University in Chennai. He then continued his studies in Paris at the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle to obtain a Masters degree in American Civilization.

In 2015, Mr. Alexis served as Inspector of Foreign Affairs until June 2017, when he was appointed Diplomatic Advisor to the Minister of State and Minister of Ecological and Solidarity Transition after the election of President Emmanuel Macron.

In 2019, the President of the Republic appointed him Consulate General in Toronto where he took office.