Minister Bibeau announces appointments of IDRC’s President and new members of the Board of Governors

May 04, 2018
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Today the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, announced the appointment of Jean Lebel as President and Chief Executive Officer of IDRC. The Minister also announced six new appointees to the Board of Governors.

IDRC’s Board of Governors congratulates Jean Lebel on his appointment as President and CEO and welcomes Governors Akwasi Aidoo, Alex Awiti, Shainoor Khoja, Purnima Mane, Gilles Rivard, and Stephen Toope to the Centre. 

These appointments will strengthen IDRC’s ability to deliver on its mandate of supporting research in developing countries that brings real and lasting change.

- Minister Bibeau

“The new Governors bring diverse strengths to future direction and oversight of the Centre, while Dr Lebel’s knowledge of research for development, his record of building effective partnerships, and his commitment to strengthening IDRC’s impact will continue to serve the Centre in the coming years,” said Minister Bibeau.

“As IDRC navigates the evolving development landscape, Jean Lebel will strengthen the Centre’s position as a global leader on research for development,” said Margaret Biggs, Chair of the Board of Governors. “The Board also welcomes six new Governors. All our new appointees have impressive track records in their respective fields and their expertise will help ensure the Centre’s work has influence and impact at both local and global levels.”

Lebel joined IDRC in 1997, and has taken on increasingly important leadership roles within the Centre, including serving as President since 2013. He has helped redefine the Centre’s long-term vision and strategic objectives, and he instituted major operational changes that have allowed IDRC to deliver on its mandate with greater efficiency and impact.

Biographical notes

President and CEO

Jean Lebel

Ottawa, Ontario – PhD in environmental sciences, University of Quebec in Montreal, Quebec; MScA in occupational health sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec; B.Sc. in biology (ecology), University of Quebec in Montreal, Quebec.

Jean has served as interim president of IDRC since May 2013. He joined the Centre in 1997 and has held increasingly important leadership roles over the years, including as senior program specialist and senior program officer, program leader, director of the Agriculture and Environment program, and vice-president of the Programs and Partnerships Branch. He serves on several boards, including the Oversight Board for Inclusive Growth of the World Economic Forum, the Centre for Global Pluralism, and the Advisory Board of the Economic Forum of the Americas.


Akwasi Aidoo

Ghanaian and American citizen, residing in Gastonia, North Carolina, United States – PhD in medical sociology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, United States; BA Hons in sociology, University of Cape Coast, Ghana.

Akwasi serves as a senior fellow at Humanity United, based in the United States. He was  executive director of TrustAfrica, an African grant-making foundation, and held several leadership positions at the Ford Foundation in New York. He serves on the boards of Human Rights Watch and the Fund for Global Human Rights. He was the former chair of the boards of the Fund for Global Human Rights, the Resource Alliance, and the Open Society Justice Initiative for West Africa, and he served on the boards of the Society for International Development and Oxfam America, among others. He is also a recipient of  the Africa Philanthropy Award, Tanzania.

Alex Awiti

Nairobi, Kenya – PhD in ecosystems and ecology, University of Nairobi, Kenya; MPhil in environmental studies and BSc in wildlife management, Moi University, Kesses, Kenya. 

Alex is the founder and director of the East Africa Institute at the Aga Khan University in Nairobi, Kenya. He is serving as adjunct professor at the University of the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, and as adjunct lecturer at Griffith University, South East Queensland, Australia. He is a former adjunct assistant professor at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York, and a former researcher at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. He has served on several academic committees.

Shainoor Khoja

Canadian and British citizen, residing in Dubai, United Arab Emirates – MSc in business administration and health management, City University of London, United Kingdom; bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy, St Thomas’ Hospital, London, United Kingdom.

Shainoor is the founder and managing director of Better Business Enterprises in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She is also the founder and former CEO of Austin’s Limited in Poland, and the founder of BBE Private Business and Investments in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. She has held leadership positions at the Aga Khan Foundation in Syria and at Roshan Telecom in Afghanistan.

Shainoor has served on IDRC’s Board of Governors since 2015, and she serves on the board of Canada World Youth. She is the recipient of the Babson Changemaker Award and the Hal Tausig Award.

Purnima Mane

Indian citizenship, residing in San Mateo, California, United States – PhD, MPhil and MA in Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India; BA in psychology, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India. 

Purnima Mane is a visiting professor at the Centre for Social Research in Health at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. She is the former president and CEO of Pathfinder International based in Watertown, Massachusetts in the USA. She served in a variety of senior leadership positions in United Nations organizations in New York and Geneva, including the United Nations Population Fund; the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; the World Health Organization; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Turberculosis and Malaria; and the Population Council. She has also served on the boards of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, and the International Journal of Sexual Health, among others.

Gilles Rivard

Ottawa, Ontario – MA in economic geography, University of Ottawa, Canada; BSc in physical geography, University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières, Canada.

Gilles is a consultant and media analyst on international relations issues. He served in a variety of senior positions in the Government of Canada and was formerly Canada’s ambassador and deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, and former ambassador of Canada to Haiti. He also served as senior advisor to Global Affairs Canada on UN peacekeeping operations.

He has served on the board of Oxfam Québec, and he is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Stephen Toope

Cambridge, United Kingdom – PhD in Law, Trinity College, Cambridge, England; LLB and BCL degrees, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; AB, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.

Stephen is the vice-chancellor-elect at the University of Cambridge, England. He is the former director of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, and former president and vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He served as president and CEO of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation in Montreal, and as dean of McGill University’s Faculty of Law. He has also served on the boards of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Universities Canada, and the Public Policy Forum, among others. He is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, the John Read Medal of the Canadian Council of International Law, and several honorary degrees. He was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2015.