Our alumni

Cohort One

Jon Barrett

Deployed to Global Affairs Canada

Jon is a recently-minted international affairs professional completing his final XFN assignment at Global Affairs Canada, where he contributes to Canadian international business development strategy. In his previous assignment, he worked on Canada-China bilateral relations. His background is in Political Science and Asian Studies, and he brings an understanding of Chinese language, culture, history and contemporary political economy to bear on his work.

Prior to XFN, Jon served at ESDC as a policy analyst for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. He is thankful for XFN, which has allowed him to fulfill a long-held goal of contributing to the advancement of Canada’s international interests. Following his graduation from XFN, Jon now aspires to represent Canada in the Asia-Pacific region as a career Foreign Service officer.

Jon lives in Ottawa with his wife Cynthia and newborn daughter Alice. In his non-existent spare time, he changes diapers and counts his blessings.

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Chelsea Brescacin

Deployed to Employment and Social Development Canada

Chelsea Brescacin is a policy analyst completing her final rotation at Health Canada’s Mental Health Division. Her first two assignments were at Indigenous Services Canada’s Strategic Policy Directorate, and Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan Secretariat.

Chelsea enjoys the analytical nature of policy work, as well as team work, problem-solving and the succinct communication of complex ideas. She has spent the past decade working in the Public Service and loves learning new things, developing new skills and above all, asking questions.

With a Master of Education in Counselling, a designation as a certified counselor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, and a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Psychology, she is an honest, hard-working and compassionate individual dedicated to serving others.

Chelsea has a genuine interest in human rights, visual arts, reducing the stigma around mental illness, and continuous life-long learning. Outside of work she enjoys volunteering with a group of Canadian women that work in partnership with Afghan women toward improving conditions of human rights, ending women's oppression, and providing opportunities for Afghan women. She believes education is a right, not a privilege.

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Salman Dostmohammad

Deployed to Finance Canada

Salman Dostmohammad is an award-winning policy professional with experience in the public and private sector.

Salman is currently a Strategic Advisor at Treasury Board Secretariat, providing advice to management on the operations of the GC’s digital suite of tools and supporting the OneGC vision.

His previous assignment was at Crown-Indigenous Relations Northern Affairs Canada where he led a policy review of the existing grants and contributions programs to reimagine a better way forward.

In his previous and current role, Salman has played a key role in developing plans and policy, contributing to departmental and reporting plans, collaborating heavily with program, policy and corporate partners on shared objectives, building and presenting dashboards to communicate findings at governance committees and providing input into cabinet documents. Before government, Salman worked as a consultant and an account manager in the transportation and supply chain sector.

Salman’s quest for learning led him to visit senior leaders at the European Central Bank, EU Parliament, EU Council and others while on the European Union Study Tour. Salman also lived and studied in France. These experiences have augmented his understanding of policy making from an international context.

Salman also finds it important to give back. Over the years, Salman has played leadership roles with TEDxUTSC, the Aga Khan Park and the Aga Khan Health Board, served as a Board of Director for the Association of Municipal Administrators of Nova Scotia, and volunteered for the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), Habitat for Humanity, Enactus and more.

His mission is to bring excellence to service. He believes, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”

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Benoit Ducharme-Vachon

Deployed to Employment and Social Development Canada

Benoit is a career bureaucrat who still has the same enthusiasm and idealism he had when he started. He joined the XFN program to be at the heart of the action, to change the status quo and meet new teams who are passionate about their work.

He is currently on assignment at Health Canada working on regulatory modernization. He previously worked in the Office of the Chief Information Officer where he specialized in the protection of personal information. He completed his first assignment at Women and Gender Equality Canada where he worked on co-creation processes with young people.

Benoit has a bachelor’s degree in industrial relations from the Université du Québec en Outaouais and a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Ottawa. He has more than 15 years of experience in the public service in a wide variety of fields such as regulations, policy development, program policies, project management, human resources and departmental policies.

He lives by the motto that you can bloom wherever you are as long as you work hard enough at it. He never gives up.

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Erik Fogal

Deployed to Employment and Social Development Canada

As a passionate problem-solver and a believer in life-long learning, Erik joined the XFN program in search of new problems to solve, and new perspectives on solving them.

He is currently on assignment at Employment and Social Development Canada, where he is working with the project team for the Youth Digital Gateway. He comes to the program from Health Canada, where he worked on the regulation of controlled substances. He has also worked in corporate planning and reporting at the Canada Border Services Agency, and mental health promotion at the Public Health Agency of Canada. He has an MA in Public Administration from Carleton University, and a JD from Queen’s University.

Outside of work, Erik enjoys hiking, board games, and struggling to learn to paint.

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Keren Gottfried

On assignment until April 2021

Keren is on a transformational journey, learning how to contribute in a way that honours her skills and curiosities. She is a servant leader, is collaborative by default, and is happiest when flexing creativity in the face of complex challenges.

Last year she joined the XFN program to pivot from research to policy. She spent her first rotation at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Strategic Policy group and her second at the Privy Council Office’s Priorities and Planning team.

Keren comes to policy after nine years in program evaluation, research, and communications: first at Ipsos for five years as a pollster and researcher, then at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada as an evaluator and transformation analyst.

She is an avid cyclist, wannabe guitarist, and cat mom to a feisty feline. Originally from Israel-Palestine, Keren has lived and studied in Hong Kong and Tel Aviv.

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Alana Johnson

Deployed to the Public Health Agency of Canada


Alana is currently posted at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Parliamentary and Cabinet Affairs team. Her previous assignments were with CFIA’s Strategic Policy shop and the policy team for ESDC’s Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities.

Equipped with her Anthropology degree, change management and design thinking certifications, Alana’s driven by the people side of things.

She thinks big, connects dots, and shares ideas to inform and carry out purposeful and practical actions.

Alana has experience in a variety of policy functions. These include Research, Policy Development, and Engagement from her time with policy and negotiation teams at the former INAC and Blueprint 2020, and transformation teams at Public Services and Procurement. She seeks opportunities to work in different policy functions to learn and be a well-rounded policy practitioner.

Alana’s in her element when she’s enabled to contribute meaningfully to support Canadians through user-driven action.

Outside of work, this born and raised Albertan enjoys obstacle course races and practicing good self-care.

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Marianne Poirier

Deployed to Treasury Board Secretariat

Marianne is currently working in Digital Policy at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) for her final XFN rotation.

Marianne is excited about many things, but especially collaborating across government, prioritizing results, and advancing the practice of user-centric design. She takes pride in delivering under pressure, always with enthusiasm and a positive attitude.

Marianne has a range of experience working on social, economic, and international files, including supporting government responses to public health emergencies, coordinating departmental teams delivering Cabinet documents, and supporting program design and delivery.

Outside of work, Marianne loves to keep busy, whether with cycling, volunteering in her community, or learning about the many topics that pique her interest.

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Kym Shumsky

Deployed to the Canada School of Public Service


Kym was born and raised in the Prairies but has lived in Ottawa long enough that she would never survive a Winnipeg winter. She calls herself a contrarian, but genuinely enjoys being part of a strong and creative team.

She has spent the better part of her career as a wordsmith and speechwriter, at the nexus of public service and politics, but returned to her academic roots by joining the ranks of policymakers two years ago.

Kym is a perfect blend of creative and operative, equally comfortable with the elements of design, and offering fearless advice to people vastly more senior than her. Her machete loves red tape.

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Bradley Sykes

Deployed to Economic and Social Development Canada

Bradley was a professional ballet and contemporary dancer and dance teacher before earning a Master of Arts in World Literatures and Cultures. He then worked in administration and communications before taking this jump into XFN and policy practice.

His first XFN assignment was for six months at Health Canada working on policy and program development for the organ donation and transplantation system. Now, he’s on a one-year assignment at the Canada Council for the Arts working on stakeholder engagement and policy research to inform the Council’s next strategic plan for 2021-2026. He’s also been working on various corporate reporting and senior management briefings.

All of the above took on a whole new significance as the Council worked and continues to work to support the arts sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following XFN, Bradley plans to continue working in a policy field to support the future and richness of culture.

Bradley was born and raised in Ottawa but also spent many very formative years in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and in Reykjavik, Iceland. He nerds out on language and is fluent in English, French, and Icelandic.

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