A Paragon of Research Leadership: Pascale Fournier Appointed President and CEO of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2018

Following an international recruitment process, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation has appointed Professor Pascale Fournier as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective July 30, 2018. As the first woman in this position, she will lead one of Canada’s most outstanding networks of brilliant scholars, renowned mentors and distinguished fellows. This nomination recognizes both a legacy of research innovation, and the fruits of a 15-year mutually-rewarding relationship. Dr. Fournier has been an active member of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation community since 2003, when she was chosen among the Foundation’s inaugural cohort of Doctoral Scholars.

Today, she is internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading comparative law scholars, producing boundary-pushing research that is at once highly inclusive and culturally and disciplinarily diverse. As the inaugural Research Chair in Legal Pluralism and Comparative Law at the University of Ottawa, her work focuses on sharing perspectives and encouraging understandings of women from diverse cultures, religions and nationalities.

Bruce McNiven, C.M., Governance Committee, Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, and Pascale Fournier

Bruce McNiven, C.M., Governance Committee, Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, and Pascale Fournier

Founded in 2001 to honour the former prime minister, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation helps fund and promote academic and public interest research in the humanities and social sciences by granting doctoral scholarships, awarding fellowships, appointing mentors, and holding public events. The Foundation seeks to encourage critical reflection and action in four areas important to Canadians: human rights and dignity, responsible citizenship, Canada’s role in the world, and people and their natural environment.

Always a valued ambassador for the Trudeau Foundation, Dr. Fournier views this appointment as the next chapter in a long and fruitful relationship with the Foundation.  As quoted in the Foundation’s official statement, she says, “My thirst for fieldwork and my drive to produce engaged and inclusive knowledge is a direct legacy of my experience with the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. I never left, in fact! The realm of public ideas quickly became the space I would unpack and nourish, nationally and globally, as a citizen of the world and as a scholar driven by knowledge mobilization. It is a great honour to return to a place that played such a fundamental role in my life and be appointed as President of the Foundation.”

Indeed, Dr. Fournier has cultivated this spirit through her many innovative contributions to the University of Ottawa’s Civil Law Section, where she has perpetually distinguished herself as a pioneer of interdisciplinary learning and thinking. For example, her creation of the “Radical Readings” speaker series has welcomed numerous Trudeau scholars, mentors and fellows, across multiple disciplines, to the law school to discuss the texts that most radically influenced their ways of thinking and their personal journeys. Her leadership of international research teams in England, France, Germany, Lebanon and Israel has helped to make the University of Ottawa’s name known internationally. She has also innovated in the classroom, welcoming an all-star line-up of special guests to her classes.  Earlier this year, for example, she welcomed to the law school Gurbaj Singh Multani, the young teenager who appealed his case for freedom of religion – specifically his right to wear his kirpan at school – before the highest tribunal of the country in 2006.

As President and CEO of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, Dr. Fournier steps into the role of senior policy-maker on issues related to the Foundation’s mandate.  She will play a crucial role in leveraging the network of outstanding individuals from the public, private and NGO sectors, as well as senior civil servants, and the Foundation’s growing roster of brilliant scholars, distinguished mentors and nation-leading fellows.

Dr. Fournier is no stranger to this brand of innovative leadership. In 2015, for example, she was appointed Commissioner of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) where she has helped to realize the organization’s fundamental mission to protect human rights and freedoms.  Also in 2015, she was selected to participate in the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, which brings together a select group of Canada’s emerging leaders. That honour came on the heels of being selected by the International Women’s Forum as an eminent fellow of The Leadership Foundation, which assembles a global network of phenomenal women to educate, inspire and empower the next generation of female leaders. 

In 2016, Dr. Fournier was named a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. In 2015, Canadian Lawyer Magazine named her to its list of the “Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada.” She was selected in the “World Stage” category – celebrating the influence of Canadian lawyers on the international scene – for her humanitarian involvement and the large scope of her academic contributions beyond Canadian borders. Dr. Fournier’s prodigious research output has earned her numerous accolades for her published work, including the Quebec Bar Foundation Legal Prize for the best law review article in 2009, and the Harvard-Stanford International Junior Faculty Forum Prize in 2008.

Those honours follow a long list of awards throughout Dr. Fournier’s career, including the University of Ottawa Award for Excellence in Media Relations (2011), and the honorific title of Advocatus Emeritus (Ad.E.) for “professional excellence and outstanding contribution to the profession” by the Québec Bar Association (2009). In 2004, she was selected in the Maclean’s Magazine’s “The Best and the Brightest: 25 Faces for the Future” (2004), and her potential for becoming a leader among the next generation of policy makers and scholars has certainly been brilliantly realized.

Dr. Fournier will succeed Morris Rosenberg as President and CEO of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.  Mr. Rosenberg has served in the role since 2014.

The Civil Law Section and the entire University of Ottawa community celebrate this exciting news and wish Dr. Fournier the utmost success.  There is no doubt that she will meet this new challenge with energy and enthusiasm, imbuing this new role with the innovative spirit that characterizes her way of acting in and thinking about the world.

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