Our Challenge Team

The Challenges team at the IIU was established in 2017, and has been working with federal organizations across the Government of Canada (GC) to develop and launch Challenges ever since.

Today, our team is composed of a central team of analysts housed in the Privy Council Office and several Challenge Prize Fellows who are embedded within line departments, helping to build capacity and support ongoing projects.

Core Team

David Donovan

Senior Lead, Policy and Innovative Finance.

  • Full bio

    David is Senior Lead, Policy and Innovative Finance at the Impact and Innovation Unit. Before joining the Privy Council Office, David was responsible for advancing private sector partnership and international development finance efforts at Global Affairs Canada. He has held roles in public, private, and academic sectors. David is the former research director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queen's University. He has published a number of articles relating to the international promotion of democracy, and on democratic and Parliamentary reform in Canada. He has also presented his views on democratic governance before a number of Parliamentary Committees and international conferences. David graduated with a BA (Honours with Distinction) in Political Studies and Master's in Public Administration from Queen's. He is also a Sauvé Fellow of the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation based in Montréal.

Julie Greene

Senior Lead, Capacity and Partnerships.

  • Full bio

    Julie is responsible for developing partnerships and building capacity for the Federal government to use outcomes-based funding approaches, including Challenge Prizes and pay-for-success projects. Her team’s current portfolio of projects span social determinants of health, environment and inclusion.

    Before joining the Privy Council Office, Julie was a key designer of an innovative chronic disease program, which was an early adopter in using matched funding with the private sector and pay-for-results methods. She co-led a program of research to explore these types of partnerships, and has jointly published several papers in this field. Previously, Julie worked to advance tobacco control and mental health initiatives, and has always been passionate about understanding how to motivate and measure behaviour change.

    Julie was educated at the University of Ottawa, holds a Master's Degree in Education (Counselling), a Bachelor of Social Science, and spent early years in her career working in clinical and community settings. Raised in the federal Health Portfolio, with feet firmly planted in policy, program and research positions, she is looking to further contribute to the systemization of public sector innovation.

Andrea Colasanti

Junior Research and Policy Analyst.

  • Full bio

    Andrea is a Junior Research and Policy Analyst on the Policy and Innovative Finance team at the Impact and Innovation Unit. In this role, she is responsible for providing policy support for various IIU initiatives. Prior to joining the IIU, she worked with the Legislation and House Planning Secretariat at the Privy Council Office. Andrea holds a Master's of Public Administration from the Queen’s University School of Policy Studies. She also completed her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Political Studies at Queen’s.

Annamarie Grant

Junior Research and Policy Analyst.

  • Full bio

    Annamarie is a Junior Research and Policy Analyst on the Policy and Innovative Finance team at the Impact and Innovation Unit. In this role, she is responsible for providing analysis and support on IIU initiatives crossing the policy and behavioural science functions. Prior to joining the Government of Canada, she worked in the non-profit sector in services for children and youth with special needs. Annamarie holds Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Political Science and Public Administration from York University and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Victoria.

Fellows

Brad Andrews

Challenge Prize Fellow, Canadian Space Agency.

  • Full bio

    In this role, Brad is leading the development of a challenge prize that will stimulate innovation and growth of remote healthcare technologies. Brad has an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, with a specialization in Social Innovation. Prior to joining the Public Service, Brad spent time supporting social enterprises, both in a leadership role and as a consultant, and is passionate about leveraging outcomes and incentives to drive change.

Clélia Cothier

Challenge Prize Fellow, Canadian Space Agency.

  • Full bio

    Currently, she works with the Space Exploration Strategic Planning team at the Canadian Space Agency and oversees the development and implementation of the Deep Space Food Challenge. Prior to joining the government, Clélia worked with Desjardins’ innovation lab to apply social innovation concepts to the business world and the financial industry, and developed open innovation projects like Coopérathon. Her goal is to act as a tri-sector athlete, by connecting and working with the private, public and social sectors on important societal issues. Clélia is also a board member of two Montreal-based organizations, Esplanade and Institut du Nouveau Monde. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Sciences and International Development Studies from McGill University.

Mohamed Yassine

Challenge Prize Fellow, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

  • Full bio

    Mohamed has been leading the provision of technical assistance to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in the design and implementation of the $20 million Food Waste Reduction Challenge. In his role as a fellow, he has been supporting AAFC to incentivize innovation in the food sector to strengthen food systems, advance technologies, and address food insecurity. Before joining the Privy Council Office, Mohamed was an Education Specialist at the World Bank, where he led the design and implementation of large-scale education programs. He managed large portfolios covering more than $500 million in financing for education reform in the Middle East and Africa regions. He co-led several research programs, including impact evaluations; and worked on introducing innovative financing instruments, including outcomes-based financing, public-private partnerships, and pay-for-success instruments. Mohamed has worked in over ten countries across North America, the Middle-East, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. He holds a Master’s degree in Learning, Design, and Technology from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from the American University of Beirut.

Public Engagement

Impact Canada's Centre of Expertise also includes a Public Engagement team of visual, and graphic design experts supporting the implementation of Challenges using our centralized web platform and the development of engaging digital and print communications.

Core Team

Dr. Michael Haber

Senior Lead, Public Engagement.

  • Full bio

    Dr. Michael Haber is Lead, Public Engagement, at the Impact and Innovation Unit. In this role, he is responsible for collaborating with federal departments and external partners to advance Impact Canada Challenge Prizes and Initiatives, and for supporting the IIU’s digital delivery model. Before joining the Privy Council Office, Michael spent 10 years with Health Canada as a Human Therapeutic Product Assessment Officer, a project manager, and most recently, as the department’s Government of Canada Entrepreneur to the Deputy Minister Task Force on Public Sector Innovation. Michael was educated at McGill University and holds a Doctorate and Master of Science in Neuroscience, a Graduate Certificate in Biotechnology, and a Bachelor of Science in Physiology.

Laura Portal Avelar

Advisor.

  • Full bio

    In her role as Advisor, Laura is responsible for supporting and collaborating with federal departments and external partners on initiatives under Impact Canada, and for advancing the Impact and Innovation Unit's digital presence. Over her federal government career, Laura has worked to advance regulatory, legislative and corporate initiatives in Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Laura was educated at the University of Ottawa and holds a Master in Public Administration, and a Bachelor of Political Science and Public Administration.

Laurie Bennett

Multimedia Communications Officer.

  • Full bio Laurie is the Impact and Innovation Unit’s Multimedia Communications Officer. She focuses her efforts on increasing accessibility to the work of the IIU through the development of engaging publications and web-based products. Prior to her work with the IIU, Laurie served as VP of operations for Transpath, a medical diagnostics firm, and also did work as a videographer and online courseware developer for the University of Alberta. Laurie has an honours diploma in Interactive Media Design from Algonquin College, with specializations in digital publishing, motion graphics, and video productions.

Chris Soueidan

Visual Designer.

  • Full bio

    Chris is the Impact and Innovation Unit’s Visual Designer. He is focused on developing the digital brand behind the IIU and its related visual products. Chris worked as a user experience designer in the Information Technology Bureau at Global Affairs Canada, collaborated on web design projects with Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, led the accreditation product design for the G7 Summit and runs Loogart, a Canadian visual design studio. He specializes in illustration, brand identity design, motion graphics, user experience and web. Chris holds a Bachelor of Engineering from McGill University in Montreal.