Board Members

Our board is comprised of community and national leaders in Canadian defence and security that help guide the strategic direction of the CDA Institute.


Lieutenant-General Guy R. Thibault, CMM, MSC, CD

Chair Of The Board
Former Vice Chief Of The Defence Staff

Lieutenant-General Guy R. Thibault retired from the Canadian Forces (CF) in August 2016 after 38 years of service. As a General Officer, he served as Commander Land Force Central Area; Deputy Commander Canadian Army; as well as the Defence Deputy CIO/CF J6 and Communications and Electronics Branch Leader.

From 2011-2013 he served in as the first Canadian Chairman of the Inter-American Defense Board an entity of the Organization of American States. He concluded his military service as the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff serving three years as the second in command of the CF and was responsible and accountable to the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Deputy Minister to coordinate and direct strategic programs to ensure defence policy and strategic objectives were achieved.


Gordon Venner

Vice-Chair of the Board

Former Associate Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence, Canadian Diplomat and Ambassador

In a forty-year career in public service Mr Venner also served as Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet for Foreign and Defence Policy in the Privy Council Office, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Middle East and Afghanistan in the Foreign Affairs Department, and as the Government’s G8 Sous-Sherpa and APEC Senior Official. He has significant experience in the Government’s multilateral relationships including in the G7, the G20, the OECD, APEC, and NATO. He served as Counsellor in the Canadian Mission to the European Union 1996 to 2000, and as Ambassador to Iran 2004 to 2006. He began his career in provincial and municipal government.

Mr Venner holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Western Ontario, and a Master’s Degree from the London School of Economics.

He is married to Marilyn Venner and they have one son.

Brussels, Belgium, June 29, 2018, assignment for the Canadian Embassy at Nato © Fred Guerdin

Kerry Buck

Former Canadian Ambassador to Nato

Ms. Buck (BA Hons, Political Science, University of Western Ontario; Common Law and Civil Law, LLB, BCL, McGill University) joined Canada’s then Department of External Affairs and International Trade in 1991.

She most recently served as Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council (NATO). From 2011 to 2015 she served as Political Director and Assistant Deputy Minister for International Security and Political Affairs. Prior to that, she held Assistant Deputy Minister portfolios for Africa and for Latin America and the Caribbean, and was the head of the Afghanistan Task Force. She has also served in a number of other senior positions at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, including Director General for the Middle East and Maghreb, Afghanistan, Public Diplomacy and Federal-Provincial Affairs, and Director for Human Rights. She was also posted to the Canadian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.

Outside of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, Ms. Buck served in the Privy Council Office as Director of Operations for Machinery of Government Secretariat, as Director of Policy and International Programs at the Canadian Human Rights Commission, with the International Development Research Centre and the Constitutional Law Bureau of the Office of the Attorney General of Ontario.

Ms. Buck speaks English and French. She is married to Michael Pearson and has a son and three step-daughters.


Robert A Davidson, CMM, MSC, CD, MBA

Vice-Admiral RCN (Retired)

Vice-Admiral Robert (Bob) Davidson joined the Canadian Armed Forces (Naval Reserve) in 1977 as an Ordinary Seaman while attending university. He was selected for officer training in 1978, and subsequently served in various training ships and establishments on the east and west coasts. He transferred to the Regular Force in 1982 in order to specialize in submarines. Submarine sea going appointments include three years on exchange with the Royal Navy serving in Her Majesty’s Submarine WALRUS, and 18 months commanding the Sea Training Group for the Australian Submarine Squadron. A graduate of the Royal Navy Submarine Commanding Officer Course (the “Perisher”) in 1989, his first Command was the submarine HMCS OJIBWA.

Since retirement, Bob has served on the Board of Directors for Ocean Networks Canada from 2017-2020 and as a Senior Mentor for the National Security Programme at Canadian Forces College Toronto 2019-2021. Bob is currently a Senior Associate for Hill and Knowlton Strategies.


Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse (Ret’d) CMM, MSC, CD

Former Chief of the Army Staff and Commander of the Canadian Army

Lieutenant-General Hainse (Ret’d) was born in Saint-Joseph de Coleraine, Québec and grew up in Thetford-Mines. He enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1977 and pursued part of his undergraduate studies at the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean. He also holds a master’s degree in Public Administration and an advanced graduate diploma (DESS) in International Management Studies from l’École nationale d’administration publique in Quebec City.

Having been deployed to Haiti, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Afghanistan, he subsequently spent two years in Italy, as the Deputy Commander Allied Joint Force Command Naples, upon being promoted to Lieutenant-General. LGen Hainse completed his final military career assignment in 2018 as the Canadian Military Representative to NATO in Brussels, Belgium.

Happily married to Traci for the past 32 years, they are now enjoying retirement by traveling and spending more time with their three sons.


Mike Hamilton

Chief Distribution Officer, SVP 
RBC Insurance

As SVP, Chief Sales & Distribution officer, Mike Hamilton is responsible for leading the RBC Insurance Sales and Distribution, and Marketing teams across Canada and across multiple channels. This includes 2000 employees serving our personal and business clients across our life, health, home, auto, travel, wealth, group and creditor products in addition to all marketing support. RBC Insurance’s sales forces include: a network of over 50 stores; a contact centre; digital channels; and advisors who are focused on group and small business clients. In addition, there is a team that provides relationship management for our third-party broker and travel agency network.

Mike also leads the national office Sales and Distribution team, consisting of sales enablement, training, communications, and sales support professionals who help drive productivity, revenue growth and improve the client experience.

Mike joined RBC in February 2013 and has over 20 years of experience from various senior roles in North American financial services companies. He has extensive knowledge of the finance industry, having held senior positions at a number of blue- chip insurance companies. Mike has a strong track record of leading and developing top-performing sales teams, growing organizations, and creating an exceptional client experience.

Mike holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Norwich University, Military College of Vermont. Early in his career, Mike spent ten years serving in the U.S. Army while engaging in three combat tours. He retired as a Captain post his command 220th.

Mike is married and has three teenage daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf, tennis, and skiing, as well as many outdoor activities. Mike gives back to the community by being involved in Military Veteran Affairs, TPL, Canada Company, Treble Victor, and Ronald McDonald House.


Vice-admiral Darren Hawco, VADM(Retd) CMM, MSM, CD

Former Canadian Military Representative to Nato and Chief of Force Development
Executive Advisor Deloitte Canada

VAdm (Retd) Darren Hawco is a former military officer and executive with extensive public service, military and allied experience in policy development, strategic planning, and capability standardization and development. Currently an Executive Advisor with Deloitte Canada, Darren’s recent uniformed Flag officer appointments included Canada’s Military Representative to NATO in Brussels (2018-2020), Chief of Force Development (2015-2018), Director General Cyberspace (2013-2015), and Commander of the Atlantic Fleet (2012-2013). As Canada’s MILREP, he was directly involved in the development of the NATO Military Strategy, as CFD he was the military pen for the 2017 Defence policy Strong Secure Engaged, and as DG Cyber, he was responsible for the initial development of Canada’s defensive and offensive cyber program. Academically, Darren has a BAdmin from the College Militaire Royale (1989), a Masters in Defence Studies from the Royal Military College (2004) and a Masters in Defence Policy and Public Administration from the Royal Military College (2008).


Daniel Jean

Former National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada

Daniel Jean had a stimulating career in the federal public service for more than 35 years when he retired from his position of National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada in May 2018 after several positions as Deputy Minister, in particular Foreign Affairs and Canadian Heritage. Earlier in his career, Daniel worked on international and migration-related issues, both in Canada and abroad, including 2 postings in Haiti, 2 separate assignments in the United States, and 1 in Hong Kong.

A Senior Fellow at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs of the University of Ottawa, a Distinguished Fellow at the Canadian School of Public Service and an Associate Fellow at the Multidimensional Conflicts Observatory of the UQAM/Chaire Raoul-Dandurand, Daniel graduated in 1988 with a Master of Business Administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences in international relations and economics from the University of Ottawa in 1982. He has a keen interest in international relations; Canada-U.S. relations; national security issues and how they interact with the economy; migration matters; and governance. Daniel currently serves on a number of advisory committees and non-profit boards.


Naresh Raghubeer

Managing Partner and Co-founder
Sandstone Group

Naresh Raghubeer is a managing partner and co-founder of Sandstone Group. Naresh was ranked by the Hill Times Newspaper as one of the top 100 lobbyists in Canada in February 2021. He is passionate, driven and results oriented. He has proven that effective public affairs and government relations depends on (i) clear communications; (ii) building trust and (iii) working collaboratively with all stakeholders across government.

After four successful years at Davie Shipbuilding (Quebec) and its sister company, Federal Fleet Services (Ottawa) holding executive roles as Vice President Communications and Regulatory Affairs and then Vice President Federal Government Relations, Naresh decided to establish Sandstone Group to continue to deliver exceptional government relations support to clients across the spectrum. During his time at Davie Shipbuilding he was able to help the senior executive management team to reset the company’s public image and relationship with the Government of Canada during extremely difficult times and then supported the efforts to win contracts and significantly increase the order book.

Naresh is also an advocate for a strong national security and defence posture for Canada. This has been demonstrated during his work in the Senate of Canada where he supported senators on the National Security and Defence Committee, including its Chair between 2012-2017.

Prior to working in the Senate, Naresh was a consultant supporting clients in the public policy and energy sector. He has also worked at the provincial government level between 1996-2003.

In April 2021, he was appointed a Director to the Board of the Conference of Defence Association Institute, Canada’s premier national security and defence association.


Vincent Rigby

Former National Security and Intelligence Advisor

Vincent Rigby is the Slater Family Professor of Practice and formerly the McConnell Visiting Professor for 2022-2023. He recently retired from Canada’s Public Service after 30 years in a variety of departments and agencies across government, including the Privy Council Office, Global Affairs Canada, Public Safety, the Department of National Defence and the former Canadian International Development Agency. His career focused on security and intelligence, foreign policy, defence, and development issues. His last position was as National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister from 2020 to 2021. In addition to his position at the Max Bell School, he is also a senior fellow with the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, as well as a senior advisor with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. He holds an MA in history from Carleton University.


Stéfanie Von Hlatky

Canada Research Chair in Gender, Security, and the Armed Forces
Fellow, Centre for International and Defence Policy
Full Professor in the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University

Stéfanie von Hlatky is the Canada Research Chair in Gender, Security, and the Armed Forces, co-director of the MINDS Network for Strategic Analysis and Full Professor in the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University. Her research focuses on NATO, gender and the armed forces, military interventions, and defence policy. Her latest book, Deploying Feminism: The Role of Gender in NATO Military Operations, was published with Oxford University Press in 2022. Stéfanie von Hlatky is the founder of Women in International Security-Canada and the Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Princess of Wales’ Own Regiment.


HCOL Jeff Westeinde

Partner at Theia Partners and President of Zibi Canada
HCOL for the 33 Combat Engineering Regiment

Mr. Westeinde is an active investor and entrepreneur in both the cleantech and real estate sectors with investments in solar energy, technologies that promote the beneficial re-use of waste and significant real estate and property development holdings.

Jeff is a partner with the THEIA Partnership which is developing Zibi, the ambitious $1.7 billion real estate development project in heart of Canada’s Capital. Jeff serves as the President of Zibi Canada. Jeff is also the Executive Chairman of Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc., the Chairman of Envirogreen Technologies Ltd. and a Director of Nucor Environmental Solutions Inc.

Mr. Westeinde has been distinguished as Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young, named one of Canada¹s Top 40 under 40 by the Globe and Mail, and won the Young Alumni Award from the University of Western Ontario. Jeff is active on numerous charitable, civic and industry initiatives. He is the Founding Chairman of Invest Ottawa, the Founding Vice-Chair of Ottawa’s Innovation Center at Bayview Yards, a past member of Ontario’s Jobs and Prosperity Council, is the Honorary Colonel of the 33rd Combat Engineers Regiment and serves as the Ontario Chair of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council. He formerly served on the Brownfields Advisory Task Force for Canada’s National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy.

Jeff’s is an avid outdoorsman whose passion for mountain climbing (he has summited 3 of the world’s “7 Summits”), skiing, golfing and fishing are but a distant second behind his love for his family.


Lieutenant-General Christine Whitecross (Ret’d)

Former Commander of Military Personnel Command

Lieutenant-General Chris Whitecross enrolled in the Canadian Forces in 1982, joining the Canadian Military Engineers after serving four years with the Cadet Program. Successive postings have taken her from Germany to almost every province in Canada, notably to undertake a range of staff duties such as those of A4 Airfield Engineering Operations at 1 Canadian Air Division, Winnipeg; Executive Assistant to the Chief of the Air Staff at National Defence Headquarters, Ottawa; Director of Infrastructure and Environment Corporate Services for the Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure and Environment); Joint Engineer, Canada Command; and Chief of Staff for Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure and Environment).

Lieutenant-General Whitecross has also performed the duties of G1/G4 for the Force Engineers of the United Nations Protection Force (Yugoslavia) while deployed to the Former Republic of Yugoslavia; Wing Construction Engineering Officer, Greenwood; Commanding Officer, 1 Construction Engineering Unit, Moncton; Commander, Joint Task Force (North), Yellowknife; Deputy Commander, Canadian Operational Support Command, Ottawa; Deputy DCOS Communications, ISAF HQ, Kabul, Afghanistan; and Canadian Armed Forces Chief Military Engineer at National Defence Headquarters, Ottawa.

Lieutenant-General Whitecross has a Bachelor in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University and a Masters in Defence Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada She is also a graduate of the Advanced Military Studies Course and the Command and Staff Course, both conducted at the Canadian Forces College. Awarded the Order of Military Merit at the level of Commander (CMM), she was also presented with the United States Defense Meritorious Service Medal for her service at ISAF HQ, and the Meritorious Service Medal (United States) for her service as the International Military Sports Council (CISM) Secretary General. Lieutenant-General Whitecross was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women of 2011 and then again in 2016, and she is the 2018 recipient of the CDAI Vimy Award.

In February 2015, Lieutenant-General Whitecross was appointed Commander of the Canadian Forces Strategic Response Team on Sexual Misconduct, and assumed the duties as Commander, Military Personnel Command in June 2015 upon promotion to Lieutenant-General. In November 2016, Lieutenant-General Whitecross was appointed Commandant of the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy. She retired from the Canadian Armed Forces upon her return to Canada in 2020.

Jeannine Clément

Dr Youri Cormier

Executive Director, CDA & CDA Institute


Valerie Aji, CPA, CMA

Financial Officer and Treasurer, CDA & CDA Institute

Social Media.

Follow us