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Pascale Fournier

  • Scholar 2003
  • Alumni
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Former President and Chief Executive Officer (2018 to 2023)
Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation

    Pascale Fournier, Ad.E., is an innovative and engaged leader whose style and objectives are intrinsically inspired by the Foundation’s values centered on Engaged Leadership in Canada and the world, the plurality of perspectives, collaboration and the democratization of knowledge.

    Since beginning her mandate as President & CEO of the Foundation in July 2018, Dr. Fournier has taken bold steps to modernize and innovate the Foundation’s programs, while cultivating meaningful new partnerships with peer organizations around the world, sponsors, and community leaders from a wide range of horizons.

    Today, she proudly leads a Foundation which has played a vital role supporting Canada’s most outstanding doctoral Scholars whose impactful research seeks inspiration in the Foundation’s four themes: Canada and the world; People and their natural environment; Human rights and dignity; and Responsible citizenship.

    Pascale Fournier holds a Bachelor’s in Law from Université Laval (1997), a Master’s in Law from the University of Toronto, where she was a Fellow of Massey College (2000), and a Ph.D. in Law from Harvard University (2007). A Fulbright Fellow (2001) and a Scholar of the first cohort of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation in 2003, she also served as Law Clerk to the Honorable Claire L’Heureux-Dubé of the Supreme Court of Canada (2000-2001). Prior to her appointment as the head of the Foundation, Dr. Fournier led a distinguished career as Full Professor and Research Chair in Legal Pluralism and Comparative Law at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law (Civil Law Section). 

    Vision of Scholarship Programs based on Engaged Leadership

    In 2018-2019, the President and CEO led a pan-Canadian listening and learning tour on the themes of engaged leadership and the best ways to prioritize and integrate diversity and inclusion in the Foundation’s practices. The Foundation team visited 20 Canadian communities, and carried out a total of 23 consultation workshops with its active and alumni members, as well as representatives from a variety of external communities and industries. The results of these consultations were shared in a report titled Future Forums, and reflected in the adoption of an innovative 2019–2024 Strategic Plan Discover. Inspire. Advance and a unique leadership curriculum, Building Brave Spaces: The Path to Engaged Leadership. This leadership approach is framed within a context of profound change in Canada and internationally since the inception of the Foundation in 2002, along with resulting and positive evolution in the academic community. It is based on the development of healthy relationships with oneself, with others, and with society and the natural environment.
    In the past three years, this vision has traced an engaged leadership path for Scholars, accompanied by Mentors and Fellows who are themselves recognized and exceptional leaders. The programs are offered along interdisciplinary scientific cycles, which, to date, have included: Power and Knowledge (2019-2022), Technology and Ethics (2020-2023), and Language, Culture and Identity (2021-2024). This programming seeks to better prepare the next generation of Scholars towards imagining shared futures while welcoming diversity and open dialogue, including with those who hold different opinions and goals. This journey fosters a greater appreciation and understanding of complexity in debate in order to build relationships of trust through knowledge sharing and democratization.

    In addition to its leadership programs, the Foundation’s community has been very active in the organization of virtual and/or in-person workshops, meetings in the field that prioritize multisectoral knowledge-sharing, and the creation in the past three years of podcasts, a Compendium on the Impacts of Covid-19 and an Alumni Newsletter.

    The President and CEO is also actively involved in expanding the Foundation’s profile and relationships at the international level in order to ensure the excellence of its programming based on best practices. This network includes reputed institutions, including, among others, the McCall MacBain Foundation, Rhodes Scholars, Schwarzman Scholars, Knight-Hennessy of the University of Stanford Scholars, the Posse Foundation, the Loran Scholars Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

    The Professional Path of the President and CEO Prior to Joining the Foundation

    Passionate about access to justice, Pascale Fournier’s contributions, and published and award-winning research comprehensively study issues relating to fundamental rights and freedoms, including equality, religion and women’s rights, and family law in pluralist and cross-cultural systems. She also taught law at the Université d’État d’Haïti, the University for Peace in Costa Rica and at a Research Institute on Women’s Rights in Iran. She has been an expert-consultant with the United Nations Development Programme on the question of the right to equality, and, in 2015, the National Assembly of Quebec appointed her Commissioner to the province’s Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, where she occupied a quasi-judicial role in relation to complaints of discrimination. She also served as Vice-Dean Research of the Civil Law Section, University of Ottawa from 2010 to 2012.

    Dr. Fournier has been awarded several prizes and distinctions, including Université Laval’s Raymond-Blais medal (2008), the Barreau du Québec’s Advocatus Emeritus Distinction (Ad.E., 2009), a best legal article award from the Foundation of the Barreau du Québec (2009), the University of Ottawa President’s Award for Excellence in Media Relations (2011), the International Women’s Forum Fellowship (2014), the Canada Arab Chamber of Commerce Excellence Award (2014), the Top 25 Most Influential lawyers in Canada (Canadian Lawyer Magazine; 2015), the “Mur des grands diplômés” of Cégep Garneau (2016), the Université Laval’s Gloire de l’Escolle Medal (2016), and the Ottawa Network for Education’s Capital Educator’s Award for teaching excellence (2016). In 2015, she was selected as a participant to the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference. In 2016, Dr. Fournier was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.


    News & Publications

    President's Message - January 2022


    President's Message - December 2021