Graduates from the School of Public Policy pursue an impressive range of opportunities after completing their degree. Here are profiles from some of our alumni sharing details about their backgrounds and interests and how their career paths have developed:
Kim McKenzie, MPP 2017
Prior to starting the MPP program, Kim previously completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Criminology at the University of the Fraser Valley where she became interested in social justice and human rights. She then spent a few years volunteering and working in the non-profit sector, including working as the Outreach and Special Projects Coordinator with SWAN Vancouver Society, an organization that supports migrant and immigrant women who do sex work in Metro Vancouver.
For the co-op component of the MPP program, Kim worked for the Local Economic Development Lab as a Graduate Student Researcher where she worked on a project exploring the impacts of income assistance policy on social hiring in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) and became involved in organizing around the informal economy in the neighborhood. This led her to complete her capstone on the employment continuum in the DTES and ways to better support income assistance recipients who do formal and informal work.
Despite her inclination towards non-governmental work, Kim obtained a job with the BC Public Service in Victoria after graduation. She is currently working in the Justice Services Branch of the Ministry of Attorney General as a Research Officer, where she engages in research and policy analysis to support access to justice initiatives, including legal aid. Part of her role involves the oversight of a Crown Agency, which has given her a deeper understanding of and the opportunity to participate in central government processes including government planning and budget cycles.
Kim’s experience in the MPP program has equipped her with the skills needed to undertake research, engage in policy analysis and brief Ministry executives and the Attorney General. She is especially thankful for the MPP program’s emphasis on writing briefing notes because that skill allowed her to hit the ground running in her new position.
Outside of work, she remains committed to the community by volunteering and sitting on several non-profit boards.
Vanessa LeBlanc, MPP 2015
After completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Honours History and International Relations at UBC, Vanessa taught English in France. Following her return to Vancouver she worked at the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) researching specific claims. Working at the UBCIC ignited her passion for Indigenous rights and social justice. Seeing the work of the UBCIC’s policy analysts in formulating and advancing the organization’s policy positions affirmed her decision her to apply to the Master of Public Policy program at SFU so she could make a similar difference in her career.
The coursework in the MPP program gave her the skills to transition from a historical researcher to a policy researcher. The wide array of policy topics used as teachable examples and the electives enabled her to engage with a variety of current issues.
Vanessa was able to see the “other side” of Indigenous policy during her co-op term as an Evaluation Intern at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) headquarters in Ottawa. She found the co-op term to be a beneficial learning experience as she felt everything she learned in the classroom “click” and was able to use the tools that the program gave her in the workplace.
Interested in First Nations jurisdiction, Vanessa wrote her capstone on equitable funding models for First Nations K-12 education jurisdiction in British Columbia. After graduating, she was well-prepared to apply to a specialized range of jobs in her field of interest and had multiple offers, including from INAC in Ottawa working in First Nations education. She ultimately chose to move to Toronto to join Ontario’s Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation where she works as a Research Advisor. She researches land claims and works on land and land claims-related policy in pursuit of Reconciliation.
Vanessa hopes to continue her work in Indigenous affairs and Reconciliation and believes the MPP program has given her a solid foundation for pursuing her career aspirations.
Nadav Goelman, MPP 2014
Nadav entered the MPP program after discovering an interest in policy while travelling across Nunavut and the Northwest Territories during the 2011 national census. His experiences in northern Canada compelled Nadav to better understand policy issues faced by people in northern, indigenous, and remote communities. SFU’s MPP provided Nadav with the tools and support needed to translate his interests into opportunities.
Once enrolled, SFU encouraged and financed Nadav to participate in a Canadian Arctic policy conference where found his co-op placement with a niche federal department called the Canadian Polar Commission (now Polar Knowledge Canada). During his placement, Nadav worked on social policy and science policy files in Ottawa as well as Yellowknife.
After graduating in 2014, Nadav was recruited by a Transport Canada strategic policy group where he researched departmental performance measures, wrote speeches for his deputy minister, and helped advise senior executives on numerous files. Nadav soon moved to Transport Canada’s Marine Safety and Security group where he now leads national marine research and development policy files, represents the Department at national stakeholder consultations, and supports marine regulatory policy processes.
The team work, problem analysis, strategic thinking, criteria and measures, and benefit-cost analysis skills garnered at SFU positioned Nadav to hit the ground running and immediately add value to his assignments. Today, having several years experience in government, Nadav has made a home for himself in Ottawa where he remains in touch with many of the friends he made in MPP and reflects fondly and frequently about his time at SFU.
Joyce Yuan, MPP 2014
Joyce entered the MPP program directly after completing a bachelor degree in Economics.
For the co-op component of the MPP program, Joyce worked as an economic analyst for Environment Canada (EC)’s Economic Analysis Directorate in Ottawa. During the co-op term, Joyce helped develop a guide for valuation of ecological goods and services for internal use at EC, and worked on several federal environmental assessment files. She was invited back for a second co-op term with EC, which she completed in the spring term of her second year in the program.
During her second co-op at EC, Joyce worked for on several regulatory packages, which included conducting cost-benefit analyses and drafting a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement for publication in Canada Gazette.
The MPP program’s training in cost-benefit analysis and Environmental Economics was instrumental in Joyce obtaining these two co-ops and performing at a high standard. The MPP program also made Joyce’s transition into the federal government much easier and smoother than it would otherwise have been.
Upon graduation, Joyce has accepted a permanent position with Finance Canada under the Economic and Social Sciences Services Development Program (ECDP), which allows a fast-tracked career progression. The MPP program’s training in policy analysis was critical for Joyce to obtain this position, as it taught her the skills necessary to stand out among other applicants during the written assessment portion of the recruitment process.
Michelle Bailey, MPP 2012
An Ottawa native, Michelle enrolled in the MPP program at Simon Fraser University after completing a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management at Carleton University. In her first year of the program, Michelle’s BC Priorities group project explored the issue of electoral boundaries policy in BC. The findings of this report, which noted the imbalance between urban and rural voting power, were published in both the Vancouver Sun and Inroads Journal. Michelle completed her co-op term at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, working on policy issues related to the non-profit sector, including social innovation. Her co-op experience led her to focus her MPP capstone research on social enterprise in BC.
After graduation, Michelle returned to Ottawa to participate in the federal government’s Accelerated Economist Training Program (AETP), now known as the Advanced Policy Analyst Program. Over the course of the two year program, she completed six-month placements at four different departments working on various files such as national parks, budget coordination, and food safety measures in trade agreements. Following the AETP, Michelle joined the Strategic Policy Branch at Health Canada to work on mental health policy. Michelle is currently an analyst at the Privy Council Office, providing fiscal policy advice and coordination support for the annual federal budget.
Michelle's experience in the MPP program equipped her with skills that have been transferable to the range of social, economic, and international policy files she has been exposed to since graduating. She remains connected with the MPP program by serving on its Alumni Advisory Council.
Fancy Poitras, MPP 2010
Fancy joined the MPP program in 2008 after completing a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Social Policy Issues from Simon Fraser University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of Alberta.
Following graduation in 2010, Fancy took a position in Ottawa as a Policy Analyst at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), where she worked on the Income Assistance Program and the First Nations National Child Benefit Reinvestment initiative. This position was made possible by her participation in a 2009 Co-op experience, working in the Office of the Assistant Deputy Minister for Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships at INAC. In 2011, Fancy took a Policy Analyst position at Employment and Social Development Canada, where she worked for four years on files such as Social Development Policy, Aboriginal Social Innovation and Finance, Work-Sharing, and Targeted Initiatives for Older Workers.
Fancy left the Federal Government after five years to accept a position as a Senior Policy Analyst with the First Nations Health Authority in Squamish Territory (West Vancouver) in 2015. She works in Policy, Planning and Transformation on files such as End-of-Life care and Strategic Governance issues.
Fancy owes much of her career success to the MPP program, both for the excellent skills the courses and Capstone provided, and the Co-op experience which led directly to her first policy job. Since graduating, Fancy has had opportunities to apply the MPP policy, political and economic knowledge she gained to her work in both program policy (overseeing day-to-day program implementation), and strategic policy (looking at policy issues over a longer time frame and understanding how policy fits into a larger scheme).
Though Fancy did not immediately start her career working on End-of-Life issues (a passion she channeled into her Capstone on increasing organ donation rates in Canada), she stayed active in volunteering with an advocacy organization; in doing so, she was able to take advantage of an opportunity in her current position to lead activities aimed at developing and strengthening End-Of-Life care, and supporting the health and wellness journeys over the life course of BC First Nations people.
Agnes Rosicki, MPP 2010
Agnes started the MPP program with the intention to focus her studies and future career on healthcare policy. She soon realized, however, career development was not a linear process as her interests shifted influenced by new ideas, issues, and interactions with inspiring people.
After completing her MPP co-op placement with the Ministry of Health in Victoria in 2009, Agnes became interested in policy issues related to First Nations living in Vancouver. She focused her Capstone on barriers and facilitators to breast cancer screening among urban First Nations women. The research and volunteer work involved in Agnes’s capstone deepened her appreciation of Aboriginal culture in general, and broadened her perspective on a number of issues faced by urban Aboriginal women in particular.
The experience of working with Vancouver’s Downtown East Side Indigenous women helped Agnes to realize her passion, Aboriginal relations, and ultimately led to her first career opportunity as the Managing Director of the Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee, which came shortly after her graduation from the MPP program in 2010.
A year later, Agnes accepted the position of Senior Policy Analyst with Metro Vancouver. This is where Agnes has been developing and making recommendations on policy proposals related to treaty negotiations and Aboriginal relation issues affecting Metro Vancouver’s corporate interests, including plans, projects, and properties. Agnes also monitors and interprets information related to the status of First Nations’ interests within the Metro Vancouver region.
The MPP program provided Agnes with the right set of skills and knowledge to develop policy proposals and to make research-based recommendations to senior management. Oral presentation skills emphasized in the MPP program have also contributed to Agnes’s success as much of her work involves providing updates, briefings, and advice to local government staff and elected officials during staff meetings, internal and external events, and formal political committee meetings.
Michael Gomm, MPP 2007
After being exposed to several policy areas during the MPP program, Michael began his career working in education policy by spending a year at the Canadian Council on Learning before finding his passion in local government. Beginning in 2008 in the Transportation Division at the Corporation of Delta, Michael quickly rose to his current position of Senior Policy Analyst in the Corporate Planning Department. Regular duties include researching and analyzing emerging issues, liaising with external agencies, and preparing reports for council.
Encompassing the communities of North Delta, Ladner, and Tsawwassen, the Corporation of Delta is a municipality of 100,000 people south of Vancouver. With new issues arising on a daily and even hourly basis, a policy analyst at Municipal Hall is forced to tackle little-known topics and produce analysis on extremely tight deadlines. The focus on practical, real world scenarios in the MPP program is ideal preparation for the fast-paced world of local government.
Michael credits the program with providing a sound background to respond to ever changing duties. Clear, concise writing is required to produce effective reports to council, advanced research skills are necessary for gathering information and evidence for key policy considerations, and an understanding of governance is essential to move important issues through the bureaucracy. The MPP program is an excellent step on the road to a challenging and rewarding career in local government.
Rob O’Brien, MPP 2007
After Rob graduated from the MPP program, he was one of two applicants selected in 2007 for the Government of British Columbia’s Graduate Development Program (BC’s equivalent to the federal government’s accelerated economist training program). Working as an analyst with Treasury Board Staff in the Ministry of Finance, Rob provided strategic advice to the ministry’s senior executives and Cabinet Ministers on significant financial and policy issues considered by the Province of British Columbia.
Over a two year period, Rob had responsibility for oversight of fiscal matters for the Ministry of Attorney General, Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General, and the Ministry of Advanced Education. Being a TBS analyst requires an individual that can identify the fiscal implications of policy problems, examine alternate courses of action, and can summarize complex issues into 3-4 concise points from which a minister can make decisions. The MPP program expertly prepared Rob for this challenge and had him briefing the Minister of Finance within his first month on the job.
Prior to his studies at SFU, Rob worked for a non-profit housing developer in Toronto and completed a university work term in Zimbabwe where he researched land settlement issues in a post-colonial setting. From 2001 to 2003, Rob taught English in rural Japan through a program administered by the Japanese government. In 2009, Rob took a temporary assignment within the BC Government’s Ministry of Trade and Economic Development to develop the Province’s contracts for its trade and investment offices in the Asia-Pacific and Europe.
Two weeks before the 2010 Winter Olympics, Rob began work as an international business development manager for the BC Government’s Japan program. This role with the BC Ministry of Trade and Economic Development involved providing oversight to the Province's trade and investment office in Tokyo, Japan. He worked closely with staff from the Consulate of Japan in Vancouver and with BC's business community to strengthen economic activity with Japan
In 2012, Rob joined the ministry's export development division as the manager for the Province's Transportation division (aerospace and marine industries). Rob is currently the Director of Transportation with the BC Ministry of International Trade.
Rob credits the experience gained through his co-op work term with the Interior Health Authority in Kelowna, his capstone project on physical activity promotion in Metro Vancouver’s high schools and the structure of the MPP program for preparing him for his career in the BC public service.