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Staff and Members

Executive Director
Carlo Dade
Tel: 613-562-0005 ext. 222
Email: cdade [at] focal.ca

Program Staff

Olga Abizaid, Senior Analyst
(on maternity leave)

Alexa Barrera, Project Manager
Tel: 613-562-0005 ext. 239
Email: abarrera [at] focal.ca

Leslie Fillion-Wilkinson,
Project Coordinator
Tel: (613) 562-0005 ext. 243
Email: lfillion-wilkinson [at] focal.ca

Barbara MacLaren, Project Manager
Tel: 613-562-0005 ext. 230
Email: bmaclaren [at] focal.ca

Tandy Shephard, Project Manager
Mapping the Media in the Americas
Tel: (613) 562-0005, Ext. 224
Email: tshephard [at] focal.ca

Racquel Smith, Project Manager
Tel: 613-562-0005 ext. 227
Email: rsmith [at] focal.ca

Vladimir Torres, Project Manager
Tel: 613-562-0005 ext. 225
Email: vtorres [at] focal.ca
Research Forum on Cuba

Cristina Warren, Program Director
Tel: 613-562-0005 ext. 226
Email:cwarren [at] focal.ca

Peter Moore, Director of Communications/ Editor
Tel: 613-562-0005 ext. 255
Email: pmoore [at] focal.ca

Rachel Schmidt, Director of Communications / Editor (on maternity leave)

Diane Larabie, Office Manager
Tel: 613-562-0005 ext. 241
Email: dlarabie [at] focal.ca

Interns/Research Associates

Phil Gonzalez
Intern, Civil Society and Governance
Email: pgonzalez [at] focal.ca

Gonzalo Moreno
Intern, Mapping the Media in the Americas

Olga Abizaid, Senior Analyst, holds an MA in International Affairs from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and a Licenciatura in International Relations from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. With over ten years of experience working on themes including North American integration, the Mexican oil industry, Mexican foreign and domestic politics, she currently manages the projects on Mexico and migration.

Alexa Barrera, Project Manager, joined FOCAL to work on the Trade and Development Project. She has an MA from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs specializing in International Trade Policy and an Economics Degree from the Tecnológico de Monterrey University in Mexico City. Originally from Mexico, Alexa moved to Ottawa in 2005 to pursue her academic and professional goals.

Carlo Dade, Executive Director, manages programmes in Remittances/Diasporas, Corporate Social Responsibility and Canadian Engagement in Haiti. Prior to joining FOCAL, Carlo was Representative for the Dominican Republic, Haïti and the English speaking Caribbean at the Inter-American Foundation (IAF), a U.S. government foreign aid agency where he managed a US$3 million community grant and business co-financing portfolio for community, economic and social development projects. Carlo was a founding member of the Enterprise Research Institute and Foundation for Latin America (ERI), a Washington D.C. think tank specializing in Private Sector Development and Corporate Social Responsibility issues. Prior to joining ERI, Carlo worked for five years in the Latin American and Caribbean Region Technical Department of the World Bank. Carlo holds a BA in International Affairs from the University of Virginia with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. He was an MA candidate at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University and also attended Yarmouk University, in Irbid, Jordan.

Leslie Fillion-Wilkinson, Project Coordinator, joined the FOCAL staff in August 2007 to assist with the Haiti project and the editing of FOCALPoint: Canada’s Spotlight on the Americas. Leslie holds a BA in International Development Studies from McGill University with a minor in Hispanic Studies and a focus on Arabic. Raised in a bilingual and multinational household, she has a great fondness for languages and travel. Prior to joining FOCAL, Leslie gained experience in a variety of areas including logistics and teaching. She eventually hopes to use her skills and experience to work overseas.

Diane Larabie, Office Manager, joined FOCAL in 2000. She provides Administrative and Financial Support, liaises with FOCAL’s Board of Directors in meeting preparation, oversees human resources such as payroll, insurance administration, and internal personnel management. Diane has post-secondary education in Business Management.

Barbara Maclaren, Project Manager. Barbara joined FOCAL in October 2007 to manage the Labour Mobility, Trade and Development Project.  Barbara holds a joint-honours BA in international development and political science from McGill University and an MA from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.  Barbara has also studied at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico and has participated in community development projects in Durazno, Uruguay. She currently volunteers for and sits on the board of numerous NGOs that work on human trafficking and humanitarian issues.

Peter Moore, Director of Communications and Editor. Peter joined FOCAL in April 2008. He holds a Masters of Journalism from Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication and wrote his thesis on democracy and human rights in Mexico. He has reported on the Acteal massacre in Chiapas, Mexico; post-conflict El Salvador; and elections in Mexico and Guatemala for newspapers and radio. Previously, he trained reporters at BCB Radio 106.6 FM in England and worked in communications with South Asia Partnership Canada and the Canadian Centre for Foreign Policy Development at Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He speaks English and Spanish fluently and French for survivors.

Rachel Schmidt, Director of Communications and Editor, joined FOCAL in August 2007. She holds an MA from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA), specializing in human security, conflict and gender. She lived in Bogotá, Colombia, while conducting research for her MA thesis, No Girls Allowed? Recruitment and Gender in Colombian Non-State Armed Groups. Prior to her graduate studies, Rachel worked as a technical and freelance writer, associate editor for Dragonfly Review of Books (Vancouver), and as a program representative for World Vision Canada. She holds a BA in English and theatre from the University of British Columbia, speaks English and Spanish, and is beginning to study French.

Tandy Shephard, Project Manager, joined FOCAL to manage the Mapping the Media in the Americas project. She has previously worked on micro-credit projects in Bolivia and recently finished a two-year GIS mapping project on Easter Island, Chile. She has also worked on community development projects in Salvador, Brazil. She holds a master’s degree in Geography from the University of Victoria and completed a degree in Sociology and Latin American Studies at the University College of the Fraser Valley. She hopes to adapt quickly to Ottawa’s cold winters.

Racquel Smith, Project Manager, joined FOCAL in March, 2007. She manages a portfolio that consists of the project Civil Society Follow-Up to Summit of the Americas Mandates and Afro-Latino programming,  such as the CanAFRO project. She has worked previously at the Inter-American Development Bank, the Grameen Foundation in Washington DC and with Andrea M. Ewart, PC, Trade and Customs Law/Consulting Services, in Washington, DC. Racquel studied international political economy and has a master''s degree from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. She received her bachelors'' degrees at the Ohio Wesleyan University. Racquel has also studied in Colombia, South America and in Paris, France.  She does not have a cat, but would like to.

Vladimir Torres, Project manager, has over 20 years of professional experience. A Latin America current affairs analyst, Vladimir joined FOCAL to undertake the Trade and Development Project. He is a regular op-ed contributor to the weekly newspaper Embassy; A Canadian Citizen since 2001, he holds a degree in Urban Planning from the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, and an MA at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. Vladimir is married and has a son and a daughter.

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