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About Us

Policy Horizons Canada (Horizons)

We are a federal government organization that conducts foresight. Our mandate is to help the Government of Canada develop future-oriented policy and programs that are more robust and resilient in the face of disruptive change on the horizon. To fulfill our mandate, we:

  • Analyze the emerging policy landscape, the challenges that lie ahead, and the opportunities opening up.
  • Engage in conversations with public servants and citizens about forward-looking research to inform their understanding and decision-making.
  • Build foresight literacy and capacity across the public service.

We produce content that may attract academic, public, and international attention, and do not publish commentary on policy decisions of the Government.

Governance

Horizons reports through the Deputy Minister of Employment Social Development Canada (ESDC) to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

The Deputy Minister Steering Committee provides oversight, direction, and guidance to the organization. It is co-chaired by Graham Flack, Deputy Minister of ESDC and Philip Jennings, Deputy Secretary, Plans and Consultations at Privy Council Office (PCO). Its members include:

  • Catherine Beaudry, Polytechnique Montréal
  • Chris Forbes, Agriculture and Agrifood Canada
  • Simon Kennedy, Health Canada
  • Diane Lafleur, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
  • Stephen Lucas, Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • John W. McArthur, Brookings Institution
  • Matthew Mendelsohn, Privy Council Office
  • Isabelle Mondou, Heritage Canada
  • Paul Rochon, Department of Finance
  • Paul Thompson, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
  • Jean-Francois Tremblay, Indigenous Services Canada

Meet Our Team

The Team
Leadership
Foresight
Communications
Outreach & Collaboration
Corporate Services

Alexis Conrad

Assistant Deputy Minister

Bio

Alexis is Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for Policy Horizons. Prior to this, he served as Executive Director of the Government Operations and Services Directorate, Government Operations Sector at the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS). Alexis has also worked at the Privy Council Office, Industry Canada and the Climate Change Secretariat. He has a Master of Arts in Political Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts degree. Alexis has been to every province and territory in Canada.

Kristel Van der Elst

Executive Head

Bio

Kristel is the Executive Head at Policy Horizons. She has nearly 20 years of experience working on forward-looking strategies and policy. She is the former Head of Strategic Foresight at the World Economic Forum and CEO of The Global Foresight Group. Kristel is also Visiting Professor at the College of Europe, Member of the Independent Advisory Committee to the Global Burden of Disease initiative, and a regular author, speaker, moderator and facilitator. Kristel is also the proud mother of 2.

Eric Ward

Senior Director

Bio

Eric is the Senior Director responsible for foresight. Before joining Horizons, he worked at the Department of Justice Canada, the Privy Council Office, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Senate of Canada and the Ottawa YM-YWCA. He holds degrees in civil and common law from McGill University, and practiced in the areas of privacy and information law.

Imran Arshad

Director

Bio

Imran is the Director responsible for outreach. He has worked on a range of forward-looking policy issues at Horizons, including emerging technologies and the rise of Asia. Prior to joining the public service, he worked in Southeast Asia on international development issues, focusing on poverty reduction, governance, and regional economic integration. He holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Dublin City University. Imran loves making music and finding balance in the Force.

Peter Padbury

Chief Futurist

Bio

Over the last 30 years, Peter has conducted several hundred foresight studies and workshops on a very wide range of topics in government, NGO and UN settings. He is happy to share what he has learned about scanning, foresight, vision-building and strategy. He imagines he can provide insight on new technologies, the emerging economy, geopolitics, sustainability and governance. Peter loves travel, canoeing and walking in nature.

Katherine Antal

Senior Foresight Analyst

Bio

Katherine has contributed to Horizons’ foresight training method and a range of futures studies including technology, the economy, infrastructure, Asia, and several social future projects. She has an academic background in economics and art history and policy experience in ESDC files related to labour markets and seniors. In her spare time she enjoys dancing, painting and singing in a joyous Mexican choir.

Marcus Ballinger

Manager

Bio

Marcus is a futurist who manages when needed. At Horizons, he has worked on geostrategic issues, changes in the global energy landscape, sustainability, infrastructure, and the next digital economy. He previously worked at Environment and Climate Change Canada on topics related to international environmental affairs. He sometimes tries living in the future, to the extent the present allows, and avoids being near internal combustion engines whenever possible. In his spare time, his Guardian alter-ego defends humanity from The Darkness.

Thomas Baynes

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Tom is an intellectual adventurer with a background in anthropology, art history, and public administration, connecting intangible aspects of human experience to concrete social policy issues. He strives to show the value of qualitative research methods in making informed choices about the future, and translate humanistic perspectives into usable insights. At home, his neuroticism and intellectual perversity are seen in his passion for textile crafts, bad television, great movies, and books on aesthetics, social theory, and cultural history.

Martin Berry

Foresight Analyst

Bio

At Horizons, Martin has worked with teams studying economic, social and technological issues, and facilitated countless fascinating conversations. Armed with empathy and a fondness for listening, he continues his learning journey in the path of designer. Martin worked as a set designer and in the video game industry for a decade. Listening to the wisdom of his wife, he went back to school in Industrial Design, only to graduate in Foresight and Innovation.

Steffen Christensen

Senior Foresight Analyst

Bio

Steffen is an expert with 15 years of experience in foresight. He is a Senior Policy Researcher at Policy Horizons, where he leads foresight on challenges facing the future of Canada. Recent projects include the Future of Asia, emerging technologies, energy, governance, work, and the economy. Steffen holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carleton University, with a thesis in Evolutionary Computation. He is sworn to use his evil powers only for good.

Pierre-Olivier DesMarchais

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Pierre-Olivier has a background in Law. He has worked as a foresight researcher at Horizons for five years, in the areas of technology, energy, infrastructure and transport, sustainable development, and production methods. He led a team of analysts on the topic of sustainable development during the Canada Beyond 150 program. PO is an avid supporter of telework, and leads sessions on change drivers with Christine, a telepresence robot.

Avalyne Diotte

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Avalyne has a background in Human Rights and Communications, and spent the past decade working in International Relations and developing education programs across Canada. Her professional interests are sustainability, health, innovation and the environment. A bit of a dichotomy, her happy place is the urban bustle and deep thinking of the future, but she always finds her way back to her roots in the wilderness or by the ocean. A lover of writing, adventure, and music, she also spends time cooking and chasing after a rambunctious toddler.

Chris Hagerman

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Chris Hagerman is a recovering academic with a background in the history of ancient and modern imperialism. He’s pretty sure someone, somewhere said that past is prologue and he’s keen to see if the saying holds as he applies his experience as a historian to the work of foresight. In his spare time, he writes, makes paddles and skis, and acts as butler to two charming daughters.

Dierdre Kelly

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Deirdre is a cognitive scientist who approaches her research with curiosity, enthusiasm, and determination. She uses her understanding of human behaviour to inform foresight methodology in creating plausible social future scenarios. She enjoys yoga and meditation, walks with her dog Bella, way too many podcasts, and singing and dancing her way through life.

Kurt Richardson

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Kurt is a foresight analyst with a master’s degree in terrorism and political violence, and a bachelor’s degree in new media. His research interests include conflict, propaganda, and religious movements. He may be part of a shadowy cabal of rogues protecting the Earth from interplanar threats.

Sven Schirmer

Foresight Analyst

Seconded to Global Affairs Canada

Bio

Sven is passionate about foresight and generally curious about the future. He has a Master’s in international affairs focused on intelligence and national security issues. He is interested in European and American politics, 20th century world history, and many other things. Sven sometimes has a certain look on his face, which in no way reflect his mood, thoughts or feelings.

Dione Scott

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Teaching in her home country of Jamaica led Dione to explore the future of educational practices, technology and socialization. She uses foresight techniques to create new models of education, social cohesion, cultural awareness, and sustainable development, while keeping true to her playful nature and wild imagination. She has a Bachelors in Computer Science, a Masters of Business Administration, and a Masters of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation.

Maryam Alam

Web Developer

Bio

Maryam wears many (actual and metaphorical) hats in the Communications team. From web development to creating immersive experiences, her training in Interactive Multimedia & Design allows her to support Horizons’ projects. By night, Maryam is definitely not a superhero and instead spends her time playing video games and eating cookies.

Nelly Leonidis

Communications Manager

Bio

Nelly is a multilingual marketing and communications professional, with experience in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors in Canada and abroad. She has worked with start-ups, on large public awareness campaigns, and on crisis communications. Nelly won’t say no to impromptu road trips, good music, sketching, or tea.

Alain Piquette

Graphic Designer

Bio

Al has been a graphic designer in the National Capital Region for over 20 years, with branding and advertising as his main focus. His designs have been used on various websites, exhibits, and packaging. He’s passionate about art, music and his beloved dog Arthur.

Nadia Zwierzchowska

Communications Strategist

Bio

Nadia is a bilingual communicator, marketer, and photographer. Past campaigns include Medical Assistance in Dying, Gender Identity (#FreeToBeMe), Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ 35th anniversary. She’s worked in both public and private sector, including advertising and food industries. She is happiest with a coffee or a camera in her hand. Prone to office shenanigans.

Blaise Hébert

Outreach Advisor

Bio

Blaise has turned his passion for Role Playing Games into a career in the public service. He is a facilitator, designer, and systems thinker, with a penchant for community building. A modern day bard, he’s been roaming the cavernous depths of the public service, inspiring others to seek comfort and understanding of the complexities that exist within our emerging policy landscape.

Louis-Philippe Gascon

Tech Administrator

Bio

With over 20 years in the IT field, Louis has spent the last 15 implementing and supporting technology at Policy Horizons. From brainstorms to consultations, he enjoys sharing his knowledge and passions with colleagues, as well as hosting a few games during lunchtime.

Pascale Louis

Executive Assistant

Bio

Pascale studied at the university of Ottawa where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and minor in Civil Law. Pascale is energetic, hard-working, always ready to learn and a huge plant-lover!

Claudia Meneses

Analyst, Data and Reporting

Bio

Claudia began her career in the public service in 2002, working in finances, contracts and procurement, human resources, and event planning. She joined Horizons in 2010 as an analyst, data and reporting. Claudia’s hobbies include gardening, reading, design, skiing, and boating. Born in Mexico City, Claudia immigrated to Canada in 1990 and actually loves winter and snow.

Sandra Séguin

Manager, Corporate Services

Bio

Sandra started her public service career at National Archives Canada in 2002. In 2017, she completed her Master’s degree in Public Administration from l’ENAP, while consolidating both her professional and family life. She is a great leader and loves to mobilize others toward new technologies. Believe it or not, she got legally married at a Tim Horton’s in Ottawa.

Alexis Conrad

Assistant Deputy Minister

Bio

Alexis is Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for Policy Horizons. Prior to this, he served as Executive Director of the Government Operations and Services Directorate, Government Operations Sector at the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS). Alexis has also worked at the Privy Council Office, Industry Canada and the Climate Change Secretariat. He has a Master of Arts in Political Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts degree. Alexis has been to every province and territory in Canada.

Kristel Van der Elst

Executive Head

Bio

Kristel is the Executive Head at Policy Horizons. She has nearly 20 years of experience working on forward-looking strategies and policy. She is the former Head of Strategic Foresight at the World Economic Forum and CEO of The Global Foresight Group. Kristel is also Visiting Professor at the College of Europe, Member of the Independent Advisory Committee to the Global Burden of Disease initiative, and a regular author, speaker, moderator and facilitator. Kristel is also the proud mother of 2.

Eric Ward

Senior Director

Bio

Eric is the Senior Director responsible for foresight. Before joining Horizons, he worked at the Department of Justice Canada, the Privy Council Office, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Senate of Canada and the Ottawa YM-YWCA. He holds degrees in civil and common law from McGill University, and practiced in the areas of privacy and information law.

Peter Padbury

Chief Futurist

Bio

Over the last 30 years, Peter has conducted several hundred foresight studies and workshops on a very wide range of topics in government, NGO and UN settings. He is happy to share what he has learned about scanning, foresight, vision-building and strategy. He imagines he can provide insight on new technologies, the emerging economy, geopolitics, sustainability and governance. Peter loves travel, canoeing and walking in nature.

Imran Arshad

Director

Bio

Imran is the Director responsible for outreach. He has worked on a range of forward-looking policy issues at Horizons, including emerging technologies and the rise of Asia. Prior to joining the public service, he worked in Southeast Asia on international development issues, focusing on poverty reduction, governance, and regional economic integration. He holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Dublin City University. Imran loves making music and finding balance in the Force.

Katherine Antal

Senior Foresight Analyst

Bio

Katherine has contributed to Horizons’ foresight training method and a range of futures studies including technology, the economy, infrastructure, Asia, and several social future projects. She has an academic background in economics and art history and policy experience in ESDC files related to labour markets and seniors. In her spare time she enjoys dancing, painting and singing in a joyous Mexican choir.

Marcus Ballinger

Manager

Bio

Marcus is a futurist who manages when needed. At Horizons, he has worked on geostrategic issues, changes in the global energy landscape, sustainability, infrastructure, and the next digital economy. He previously worked at Environment and Climate Change Canada on topics related to international environmental affairs. He sometimes tries living in the future, to the extent the present allows, and avoids being near internal combustion engines whenever possible. In his spare time, his Guardian alter-ego defends humanity from The Darkness.

Thomas Baynes

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Tom is an intellectual adventurer with a background in anthropology, art history, and public administration, connecting intangible aspects of human experience to concrete social policy issues. He strives to show the value of qualitative research methods in making informed choices about the future, and translate humanistic perspectives into usable insights. At home, his neuroticism and intellectual perversity are seen in his passion for textile crafts, bad television, great movies, and books on aesthetics, social theory, and cultural history.

Steffen Christensen

Senior Foresight Analyst

Bio

Steffen is an expert with 15 years of experience in foresight. He is a Senior Policy Researcher at Policy Horizons, where he leads foresight on challenges facing the future of Canada. Recent projects include the Future of Asia, emerging technologies, energy, governance, work, and the economy. Steffen holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carleton University, with a thesis in Evolutionary Computation. He is sworn to use his evil powers only for good.

Pierre-Olivier DesMarchais

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Pierre-Olivier has a background in Law. He has worked as a foresight researcher at Horizons for five years, in the areas of technology, energy, infrastructure and transport, sustainable development, and production methods. He led a team of analysts on the topic of sustainable development during the Canada Beyond 150 program. PO is an avid supporter of telework, and leads sessions on change drivers with Christine, a telepresence robot.

Avalyne Diotte

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Avalyne has a background in Human Rights and Communications, and spent the past decade working in International Relations and developing education programs across Canada. Her professional interests are sustainability, health, innovation and the environment. A bit of a dichotomy, her happy place is the urban bustle and deep thinking of the future, but she always finds her way back to her roots in the wilderness or by the ocean. A lover of writing, adventure, and music, she also spends time cooking and chasing after a rambunctious toddler.

Chris Hagerman

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Chris Hagerman is a recovering academic with a background in the history of ancient and modern imperialism. He’s pretty sure someone, somewhere said that past is prologue and he’s keen to see if the saying holds as he applies his experience as a historian to the work of foresight. In his spare time, he writes, makes paddles and skis, and acts as butler to two charming daughters.

Dierdre Kelly

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Deirdre is a cognitive scientist who approaches her research with curiosity, enthusiasm, and determination. She uses her understanding of human behaviour to inform foresight methodology in creating plausible social future scenarios. She enjoys yoga and meditation, walks with her dog Bella, way too many podcasts, and singing and dancing her way through life.

Kurt Richardson

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Kurt is a foresight analyst with a master’s degree in terrorism and political violence, and a bachelor’s degree in new media. His research interests include conflict, propaganda, and religious movements. He may be part of a shadowy cabal of rogues protecting the Earth from interplanar threats.

Sven Schirmer

Foresight Analyst

Seconded to Global Affairs Canada

Bio

Sven is passionate about foresight and generally curious about the future. He has a Master’s in international affairs focused on intelligence and national security issues. He is interested in European and American politics, 20th century world history, and many other things. Sven sometimes has a certain look on his face, which in no way reflect his mood, thoughts or feelings.

Maryam Alam

Web Developer

Bio

Maryam wears many (actual and metaphorical) hats in the Communications team. From web development to creating immersive experiences, her training in Interactive Multimedia & Design allows her to support Horizons’ projects. By night, Maryam is definitely not a superhero and instead spends her time playing video games and eating cookies.

Nelly Leonidis

Communications Manager

Bio

Nelly is a multilingual marketing and communications professional, with experience in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors in Canada and abroad. She has worked with start-ups, on large public awareness campaigns, and on crisis communications. Nelly won’t say no to impromptu road trips, good music, sketching, or tea.

Alain Piquette

Graphic Designer

Bio

Al has been a graphic designer in the National Capital Region for over 20 years, with branding and advertising as his main focus. His designs have been used on various websites, exhibits, and packaging. He’s passionate about art, music and his beloved dog Arthur.

Nadia Zwierzchowska

Communications Strategist

Bio

Nadia is a bilingual communicator, marketer, and photographer. Past campaigns include Medical Assistance in Dying, Gender Identity (#FreeToBeMe), Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ 35th anniversary. She’s worked in both public and private sector, including advertising and food industries. She is happiest with a coffee or a camera in her hand. Prone to office shenanigans.

Martin Berry

Foresight Analyst

Bio

At Horizons, Martin has worked with teams studying economic, social and technological issues, and facilitated countless fascinating conversations. Armed with empathy and a fondness for listening, he continues his learning journey in the path of designer. Martin worked as a set designer and in the video game industry for a decade. Listening to the wisdom of his wife, he went back to school in Industrial Design, only to graduate in Foresight and Innovation.

Blaise Hébert

Outreach Advisor

Bio

Blaise has turned his passion for Role Playing Games into a career in the public service. He is a facilitator, designer, and systems thinker, with a penchant for community building. A modern day bard, he’s been roaming the cavernous depths of the public service, inspiring others to seek comfort and understanding of the complexities that exist within our emerging policy landscape.

Dione Scott

Foresight Analyst

Bio

Teaching in her home country of Jamaica led Dione to explore the future of educational practices, technology and socialization. She uses foresight techniques to create new models of education, social cohesion, cultural awareness, and sustainable development, while keeping true to her playful nature and wild imagination. She has a Bachelors in Computer Science, a Masters of Business Administration, and a Masters of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation.

Louis-Philippe Gascon

Tech Administrator

Bio

With over 20 years in the IT field, Louis has spent the last 15 implementing and supporting technology at Policy Horizons. From brainstorms to consultations, he enjoys sharing his knowledge and passions with colleagues, as well as hosting a few games during lunchtime.

Pascale Louis

Executive Assistant

Bio

Pascale studied at the university of Ottawa where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and minor in Civil Law. Pascale is energetic, hard-working, always ready to learn and a huge plant-lover!

Claudia Meneses

Analyst, Data and Reporting

Bio

Claudia began her career in the public service in 2002, working in finances, contracts and procurement, human resources, and event planning. She joined Horizons in 2010 as an analyst, data and reporting. Claudia’s hobbies include gardening, reading, design, skiing, and boating. Born in Mexico City, Claudia immigrated to Canada in 1990 and actually loves winter and snow.

Sandra Séguin

Manager, Corporate Services

Bio

Sandra started her public service career at National Archives Canada in 2002. In 2017, she completed her Master’s degree in Public Administration from l’ENAP, while consolidating both her professional and family life. She is a great leader and loves to mobilize others toward new technologies. Believe it or not, she got legally married at a Tim Horton’s in Ottawa.

Our History

1996

The Policy Research Secretariat (PRS) was created in the Privy Council Office (PCO). PRS was a think tank that focused on horizontal issues that cut across traditional departmental responsibilities.

1997

PRS was made permanent within PCO to respond to the need for better support of interdepartmental research networks.

2000

PRS became known as the Policy Research Initiative (PRI), an independent organization within the federal public service, with administrative support from PCO.

2002

PRI started carrying out medium-term, horizontal research projects.

2006

The control and supervision of PRI was transferred to Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC). The Clerk established the Deputy Ministers Steering Committee (DMSC) to help spread PRI’s work within senior ranks of the Public Service, and to provide advice on the research agenda.

2008

At the request of the Clerk (PCO), PRI designed and delivered the canada@150 Project. canada@150 trained 150 new public servants in scanning and foresight. They looked at how Canada could change by 2017 (in preparation for Canada’s sesquicentennial), and what it might mean for the public service. This resulted in an expressed desire to increase foresight capacity in the public service.

2010

PRI shifted from a traditional think tank into a foresight center, and became Policy Horizons Canada (Horizons).

2011

Horizons published the first MetaScan (MetaScan 2011: Exploring four global forces shaping our future).

2012

Horizons published MetaScan 2: Building Resilience in the Transition to a Digital Economy and a Networked Society.

Horizons published MetaScan 3: Emerging Technologies.

2014

Horizons moved to new offices and launched the first innovation lab within the Government of Canada. It collaborated other federal organizations on a foresight study exploring the increasing importance of Asia and its impact on Canada.

2015

In addition to foresight, Horizons’ mandate expanded to include behavioural insights and experimentation.  Horizons published MetaScan 4 – The Future of Asia: Implications for Canada.

2016

Horizons published the Foresight Training Manual to introduce policy analysts to the organization’s method.

2017

Horizons published a series of Behavioural Insights briefs to help build foresight capacity across the public service.

2018

Horizons and PCO collaborated to launch Canada Beyond 150, a ten-month training program that took place from July 2017 to March 2018. The program was designed to support leadership and skills development, as well as drive culture shift across the public service.

2019

Horizons is currently focusing on three lines of foresight: Economic Futures, Social Futures, and Governance Futures.

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