Our Team

Jeannine Clément

Dr. Youri Cormier

Executive Director

Youri Cormier is an Adjunct Professor with the Royal Military College of Canada and has taught at the Canadian Forces College, Johns Hopkins University, and King’s College London in a variety of disciplines including political philosophy, war & strategy, international relations, land power theorists, operational concepts, and human rights & justice.

He holds diplomas from Concordia University (BComm/BA), the Royal Military College of Canada (MA) and King’s College London (PhD) and has worked in various senior executive roles in the non-profit sector in professional theatre, environmentalism, and youth civic & electoral engagement

He served as a human rights observer in Zapatista-controlled areas of Chiapas, Mexico, and later conducted research on Latin American indigenous insurgencies on behalf of the Canadian Department of National Defense. As a research & speechwriting fellow at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels, he contributed to policy papers on climate change and food/water security, NATO-Russia relations, and the use of drones in countering improvised explosive devices.

In 2016, he published the book: “War as Paradox: Clausewitz and Hegel on Fighting Doctrines and Ethics (McGill Queens University Press), which traces the origin and current-day significance of dialectical war theory. It was awarded a prestigious publication grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and has since become a bestseller in the field, integrated into university curriculum internationally.


joe varner pic

Joseph Varner

Deputy Director – Conference of Defence Associations

Joe Varner is a past Adjunct Scholar at West Point’s Modern War Institute and is author of “Canada’s Asia-Pacific Security Dilemma.” He served as Senior Adviser and Director of Policy to the Minister of National Defence and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada the Hon. Peter Gordon MacKay from 2008 to 2014 as well as Chief of Staff to the Shadow Minister of Defence Hon. Kerry-Lynn Findlay.

Varner also served as a Faculty member with the American Military University from 2001 to 2009 and again from 2015 to 2019 specializing in teaching homeland security and intelligence studies. He is also a Fellow of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society, Royal Society of Arts, Royal Asiatic Society of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and Royal United Services Institute of Defence Studies. Joe is also a past Senior Research Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, Research Fellow of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, the Naval Officers’ Association of Canada and has also been published by the MacDonald-Laurier Institute, Mackenzie Institute, Institute for Security and Development Policy and the Heritage Foundation. 

Varner holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in International Relations and a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from Acadia University. He is a past Chair of the Board of St. John Ambulance Federal District and a member of the Board of Directors of the Perley Health Foundation. Joe is a Knight of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.



Jennifer Giguere

Director of Operations

Jennifer Giguere has been working within business operations and event logistics for over 20 years within the non-profit and charitable sectors. An expert in the execution of events with over 125 successful events under her leadership including large-scale exhibitions, conferences, galas, as well as professional development events. Additionally, Jennifer has worked extensively in donor and member relations, marketing, web development and high-level awards programs within her career.

Jennifer’s primary area of focus over the last 10 years has been within the Canadian defence and security sectors. She has been responsible for leading initiatives that bring together industry, academia, and representatives of the Canadian Armed Forces with domestic and foreign government leadership. Her extensive experience in leading these programs continues to build platforms that provide relationship building and business development opportunities within the sector that lead to a safer, more efficient, and better equipped Canadian Armed Forces.

Prior to joining the CDA Institute team, Jennifer was the Director of Domestic and International Events for the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries. Leading her team to the successful execution of over 15 yearly events and initiatives across Canada and globally. Most notability, as the director of CANSEC, Canada’s largest defence and security exhibition and rated in the top 5 global defence events.



Valerie Aji, CPA, CMA

Financial Officer and Treasurer, CDA & CDA Institute

Valerie Aji is a Chartered Professional Accountant with over 15 years’ experience in accounting, Canada and USA in diverse business industries, mainly non-for-profit sector.

Valerie has joined CDA in 2018 and as a dedicated and detail-oriented accounting professional she has been meeting the accounting needs for CDA, Able to identify and implement process improvements that improve accuracy, consistency, and efficiency. An energetic, motivating, and Effective communicator.

Valerie has a Bachelor of Commerce – Accounting Option – University of Damascus, Syria.

Chartered Professional Accountant, Certified Management Accountant – CPA, CMA Ontario – 2012



Olivier Duhaime

Director, Government Relations

Olivier Duhaime is the Director, Government and Public Affairs at the Conference of Defence Associations. He has extensive knowledge and understanding of the political landscape and the federal and provincial governments. Fluently bilingual, Olivier is well positioned to provide strategic advice and work with all stakeholders in government.

Prior to joining the CDA Institute, Olivier worked on Parliament Hill as an executive and policy advisor for a Member of Parliament and then for two Ministers’ offices (Infrastructure and Foreign Affairs). His judgment and strategic thinking skills allow him to find effective ways to work with elected officials and their advisors, senior public servants and stakeholders. Olivier also has extensive experience in managing federal and municipal political campaigns as he was involved in the last three federal campaigns (2015, 2019, 2020) and the last municipal campaign (2021).

Olivier holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications from the Université du Québec en Outaouais.


Jane Leakey

Manager, Academic Programs

Jane Leakey serves as the Manager of Academic Programs at the CDA Institute. She is a graduate from the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs where she studied international relations, law, and development studies. During her time as a master’s student she served as an intern for the U.S. Embassy’s political office in Ottawa. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in legal studies with a specialization in transnational law and human rights from Carleton University. 



Marc-Olivier Cantin, PhD

Research Coordinator

Marc-Olivier Cantin is a Research Coordinator at the CDA Institute and a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for International Peace and Security Studies at McGill University. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Montreal, where he also teaches undergraduate classes on international relations and political violence. He is a graduate of King’s College London (M.A.) and Laval University (B.A.). Prior to joining the CDA Institute, Marc-Olivier worked as a research analyst for the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect in New York, where he conducted research and organized advocacy campaigns on mass atrocity prevention.



Megan Martins Da Ponte

Research Coordinator

Megan Martins Da Ponte is a Research Coordinator at the CDA Institute and incoming doctoral student in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University. Megan holds a BA (Hons) in Political Studies from the University of Manitoba and is an alumnus of the 2018 NATO Field School and Simulation Program at Simon Fraser University. Megan’s research interests include sea power, Arctic security, and the military applications of emerging technology.



Isabella Aung

Research Assistant

Isabella Aung is a doctoral candidate in Political Studies at Queen’s University where she studies how contemporary authoritarian power is both contested and sustained through social media. She earned an honors degree in International Relations with a minor in Mathematics from Linfield College, Oregon, and an MA degree in Political Science from Simon Fraser University. She also completed a semester abroad in Politics, French, and Arabic at the University of Nottingham, UK, with first-class honors standing. Her research interests include Women, Peace, and Security (WPS), women of Color’s electoral representation, and grassroots women’s activism against authoritarianism.



Lauren Mannix

Research Assistant

Lauren Mannix is a Research Assistant on the Digital Content Team at the CDA Institute. In this capacity she enjoys researching current challenges in international affairs, security and defence, and figuring out ways to make these issues more accessible to broader audiences for greater awareness and understanding. Her current research interests include the intersecting societal and security implications of AI and big data, influence operations and narrative warfare online, and the erosion of trust in institutions.  Lauren holds a Bachelor of Science in anthropology with a minor in professional communication from the University of Victoria and is an alumna of the 2022 NATO Field School and Simulation Program at Simon Fraser University.


Bio pic

Zain Shah

Research Assistant

Zain is a recent graduate from the dual degree program between Sciences Po Paris and the University of British Columbia in Politics & Government and International Relations. With regional specialization in the Middle East, Zain spent time at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel/Palestine for Islamic Studies. Interested in the intersection of International Security and International Relations Theories, Zain has interned at the Hudson Institute, the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, and the Afghanistan Security Institute in foreign policy. In his free time, Zain writes for CrossFireKm on US Foreign policy, can be found trying to sing without fail, and or reading about religion. 

Zain speaks fluent English, Urdu/Hindi, proficient French and is learning Arabic