CIC Waterloo Branch Leadership Biographies

Laszlo Sarkany

Laszlo Sarkany

President

Laszlo attained a Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at Western University where he focused on the work of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  His research interests deal with international criminal justice, the nexus between justice and politics in regards to the work of the Court, and the Court’s institutional design. Laszlo teaches at King’s University College, the University of Waterloo, and at the main and Brantford campuses of Wilfrid Laurier University, and has taught courses in political science, social justice and peace, environment and business, sustainability management, human rights and human diversity, and criminology. He attended professional development courses in mass atrocity prevention offered at Concordia University in Montreal, and in social science methodology offered at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and at the University of Vienna in Austria.  

Laszlo is a member of delegation of  ‘No Peace Without Justice’ – an nongovernmental organization registered with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations – during the annual Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court.  

Outside of the academe, Laszlo works at the YMCAs of Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo where he co-leads a year-long program on Youth Leadership Development, and will coordinate the Leaders-In-Action program for the local YMCA during the summer of 2019.  

If not teaching, researching or leading youth and teens, Laszlo may be found serving as a board member of Southwest Soccer, ‘managing conflict’ on the soccer field as a match official, or assessing soccer match official performance as an assessor accredited with Ontario Soccer.  

John Tennant

John Tennant

Vice President

John Tennant heads his own strategic consulting firm, W2N2 Partnership, which focuses on economic development, innovation, and international trade, investment and economic policies. He is also a Co-Founder and Partner in the Global Investment Attraction Group.  From 2002 through 2008, John was CEO of Canada’s Technology Triangle Inc. (CTT Inc.) Earlier, John served in Canada’s foreign service.  His career culminated as Canadian Consul General in the US Mid-West based in Detroit (1998 to 2002).  Earlier assignments were in New York, Chicago, Tokyo (twice), West Africa, Central America, the Eastern Caribbean and Australia.  John also served in Ottawa as Director General for Asia Pacific. 

Keenly interested in Canada’s role in the world, John has been a CIC member since his return to Canada in 2002.  During 2009 and 2010, John served as Special Advisor on the African Initiative at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).  

Melissa Knox

Melissa Knox

Secretary

Melissa N. Knox is a practising civil litigation lawyer, specializing in the areas of employment, human rights, personal injury, and sports law.

As a student-athlete, Melissa majored in Human Rights and Law at Carleton University while playing varsity soccer, achieving Academic-All Canadian status each year of study and graduating with the Highest Honours distinction.

Melissa obtained her juris doctor from Windsor University, Faculty of Law and was called to the Ontario bar in 2012.  Subsequently, Melissa completed a Master’s degree in International Sports Law in Spain and thereafter spent time working in the field of international sports arbitration in Switzerland.

Melissa is particularly interested in matters of public international law and enjoys anything and everything related to football (soccer).

Melissa enjoys being actively involved in the community and contributed to the revival of the current CIC Waterloo Branch.

Tracy Austin

Tracy Austin

Communications Officer

Tracy is a litigator specializing in plaintiff personal injury law and insurance defence law.    

Tracy volunteers with churches, community organizations, and charities.  She is currently a member of the Black Female Lawyers Network, Legal Hackers – London Chapter, and the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association. 

Outside of work, Tracy enjoys beading necklaces, cooking, watching sports, shopping (especially soccer), and travelling. She is fluent in French, functional in Spanish, and attempts to speak other languages with varying degrees of success. 

Cohl Johnston

Cohl Johnston

Chair, Membership Committee

Cohl has a BA in Psychology with minors in Human Resources and Management Studies, which she has applied in the field of Talent Acquisition. Her experience spans North America in both the technology and financial sectors. Cohl is also an active volunteer with experience in a number of organizations; mostly recently NepalAbility, who she is currently consulting for. When you meet Cohl, be sure to ask her about her experience in Japan.  

Justin Caldwell

Justin Caldwell

Chair, Young Professionals’ Committee

Justin works with a team of wealth management professionals to deliver clarity to family, business, and personal goals. Before joining Canada’s leading independent wealth management firm, he worked at one of Canada’s most recognized think-tanks, the C.D. Howe Institute. There, he refined his skills in analysis and communication by developing strategic partnerships with industry CEOs and senior government stakeholders. 

Elizabeth Kim

Elizabeth Kim

Member, Young Professional’s Committee & Events Committee

Elizabeth J. Kim is a member in good standing of the Law Society of Ontario. Her practice focuses on immigration and refugee law. Elizabeth received her Hon.B.A. with distinction in Philosophy from University of Toronto and Juris Doctor from Dalhousie University.

Basheer Habib

Basheer Habib

Executive Member-At-Large

Basheer Habib is an Organizational Consultant with more than 30 years’ experience working with private and international civil society organizations, in the areas of Business Performance Optimization and Capacity Building. 

He has Masters degrees in Management and Organizational Development & Consultancy and a Post Graduate Certificate in Cross-Sector Partnerships. 

In 2017, he received the Mayor’s City Builder Award from the City of Kitchener .

Viktorija Arsic

Viktorija Arsic

Executive Member-At-Large

My name is Viktorija Arsic. I will soon graduate with an M.A. in Political Science at the University of Guelph. In the meantime, I am also a teaching assistant and a CUPE 3913 Department Steward for Political Science. My research interests include political participation, digital democracy, and the application of civic technology at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels to create sustained positive change. 

In 2015, I became involved with Young Diplomats of Canada and attended their Young Professionals 

International Affairs Training Conference, held at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Toronto. This event was a tremendous learning experience for me and sparked my passion for international affairs.  

From May 2017 to November 2018, I was a Graduate Student Research Assistant for the Research Shop at the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute (CESI), University of Guelph. In this role, I contributed to community well-being by engaging with a variety of local and regional stakeholder’s community needs. In addition, I co-authored successful reports on topics such as environmental planning for various single-tired cities in Ontario (such as London and Hamilton) and rural youth homelessness as requested by the Community Resource Centre of North & Centre Wellington.  

Since 2017, I have served as a Board Director for CFRU 93.3 FM in Guelph. In this capacity, I have provided general oversight, planning, and organization for our campus and community radio station. I am also actively volunteering in my community by doing event outreach and coordination. 

I am honoured to serve as an Executive Board Member-At-Large for the CIC Waterloo Branch. I hope to apply my academic knowledge and experience to address real-world challenges and opportunities for Canada on the international stage. 

Gordon Gravette

Gordon Gravette

Executive Member-At-Large

Gordon Gravette is a retired 35-year veteran of the Canadian Forces who spent an additional 9 years working in academic administration at Conestoga College in Kitchener.  He holds five academic degrees, including a PhD from Wilfrid Laurier University.  He is also an Officer in the Order of Military Merit and is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal.  He currently serves on several citizen-based boards and committees in the Waterloo region. 

Bob Publicover

Bob Publicover

Executive Member-At-Large

Following retirement from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Bob Publicover graduated “Cum Laude”  from the two year French language paralegal program at La Cité Collégiale d’Ottawa, and passed the Law Society of Upper Canada’s paralegal bar exam. 

Mr. Publicover is fluent in both French and English, and holds a BA in Political Science and an MA in Public Administration from Queens University.  

His career focussed on trade negotiations, trade policy and trade promotion related to the European Union, North Africa, the Middle East and Latin America – including service at the Canadian Embassy in Tunisia. Earlier, he was a key player in developing and administering conflict of interest guidelines for Ministers, Ministers’ staff and senior officials and federal lobbyist registration policy. 

Bob is a member of the Committee of Adjustment of the City of Waterloo. He is Secretary of the Waterloo Provincial Liberal Association; a Director of the Canadian International Council’s newly formed Waterloo; an active fundraiser for the House of Friendship; and a member of the Kitchener-Conestoga Probus Club.  In 2018, he campaigned actively with a successful candidate for election to Waterloo Regional Council. He is a member of the Capital Campaign Committee of the Hospice of Waterloo, and a participant in the Waterloo Knights of Columbus Annual Christmas Toy Drive. 

In Ottawa, he was a Director of the Perley-Rideau Veterans Health Centre Foundation; a Member of the Executive Committee of the Ottawa-Vanier Federal Liberal Association and a key member of that Association’s committee sponsoring a Syrian refugee family. He also served as President of the Cardinal Glen Community Association.  

Bob is a Past President of the Queens University Alumni Association (Ottawa Branch); past Vice-President of Operations of the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library; a member the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve Officers’ Association; and a Trustee of the Kanata Public Library.  

Siyu (Alex) Xing

Professional Fellow

I’m an MBA candidate in the LAZARIDIS School of Business & Economics and specialized in Operations Management. Before studying at Wilfrid Laurier University, I worked in the education industry for three years and contacted areas including product development, marketing, and data analysis.

Daniel Safayeni

Daniel Safayeni

Daniel Safayeni is Director, Policy at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) where he is responsible for leading the Ontario Economic Report and managing a portfolio that covers a broad range of public policy issues. Prior to joining the OCC in 2018, Daniel held senior-level positions at the U.S. Department of State and the C.D. Howe Institute. He holds a Master of International Public Policy degree from the Balsillie School of International Affairs and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. 

 Ray Simonson

Ray Simonson

Mr. Simonson is an experienced tech CEO and start-up founder. He has extensive experience with large capital project management and construction software, building high performing teams, start-ups, fund raising, and selling enterprise software internationally.

He led the October 2010 MBO of Coreworx, closed the deal in three weeks with the help of his strong management team. They grew revenue by 4 times over 3 years despite running with very little operating capital.

He has served on and both private and public boards

Ksenija Arsic

Ksenija Arsic

My name is Ksenija (Kay) Arsic and I am a Freelance Investigative Journalist with over 35 years of experience as a journalist, researcher and writer. 

I hold a Bachelor of Political Science Degree from the University of Belgrade, Serbia, as well as a Master of Arts Degree in American Politics, from the University of Guelph, Canada, and a Magisteriate of Arts Degree in European Studies from the University of Guelph, Canada. 

While living in Serbia and working as a radio -journalist I covered, wrote and produced a variety of assignments on special topics and I wrote and published commentaries, articles, and investigative reports for daily newspapers and publications. 

In the first months of my life here in Canada, I co-hosted an informative program in the Serbian language and announced the latest developments in the homeland for the Serbian Diaspora in Canada at the CHIN Radio 100.7 FM, Toronto, ONThe show included reports on business, arts and culture, humanitarian topics from Serbian correspondents, sports news, as well as listener comments, and showcased Serbian music. 

During my studies I worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Guelph, where I demonstrated my ability to teach and interact positively and effectively with diverse populations of students at a variety of academic levels.

I am a recipient of a bookplate indicating University of Guelph authorship for the book that I wrote in 2005: America’s Controversies The death penalty, Clinton’s presidency and the export of democracy to Nicaragua.  

My book was honored at the sixth annual University of Guelph Campus Author Recognition Program in October 2011 and catalogued/added to the University of Guelph Library. 

While pursuing my second Magisteriate of Arts Degree in European Studies from the University of Guelph, Canada, I wrote my most recent major research paper: Discarded lives: Globalization and the trafficking in women through and from the Balkans: Is there a solution?  

I am currently expanding my research about the subject of human trafficking and working on writing further publications. 

Dana Fox

Dana Fox

Dana Fox is Vice President Global Enterprise Sales at Athena Software responsible for delighted clients and global business development. Athena’s technology provides human service organizations with a mobile, integrated case management solution.  

Dana Fox is also the founder of the Institute for Smarter Government using big data and predictive and prescriptive analytics to help human service organizations (health, social services, education and justice) create transformational strategies that deliver better outcomes for less. Founder and author of Export Ignition and Mentorship with applied intelligence using predictive and prescriptive analytics for SME’s worldwide.  

TEDxUW speaker on how Smart Government can shift from transactional to transformational services, Dana was recently asked to speak at the European Identity Conference 2019 in Munich Germany on GDPR risks and opportunities, anonymisation and pseudonymisation of data.  

Dana was the founder and visionary of ClevrU, an online education platform. He was an Adjunct Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in strategic business development. Dana is an advisory board member at the Centre for Global Enterprise: Schulich School of Business and member of the Canadian International Council.