Leadership

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Vice-President (External Relations)

Elan MacDonald

Elan MacDonald, ICD.D is the Vice President, External Relations at the University of Alberta. Elan has spent her career advising organizations and corporations to sustain and grow their businesses by navigating government, policy development, crisis communications, the regulatory and legislative processes, and the shifting political, social and economic landscapes. As President and CEO of Impact Consulting, Elan built and operated one of Alberta’s most reputable government relations advisory and communications companies for close to a decade, serving local, national and international clients. She later joined her firm with Global Public Affairs, where she became the Senior Vice President, National Client Development.

Elan has a long history in Alberta politics serving as Deputy Chief of Staff and Political Advisor to two Alberta Premiers, and as a political advisor to Cabinet Ministers. She is Chair of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and a Director on the boards of Edmonton Global, Atlas Biotechnologies and Alberta Ballet.

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Email: elan@ualberta.ca

Andrea Smith

Senior Advisor (Portfolio Strategy)

Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith is the Portfolio Strategy Senior Advisor for External Relations. Andrea uses her extensive leadership experience building businesses from strategic assessment through to realization to enrich External Relations' vibrant and dynamic work environment. A civil engineer with an MBA, Andrea's professional skills, coupled with her eclectic leadership experience in corporate, not-for-profit and public institutions (universities), provide important insight and direction to the External Relations portfolio.

Email: andrea.smith@ualberta.ca | Phone: 780-691-0901

Alexis Ksiazkiewicz

Associate Vice-President ( Government and Community Relations)

Alexis Ksiazkiewicz

Alexis Ksiazkiewicz leads institutional Government and Community Relations strategies. Over the past fifteen years, she has held leadership roles within the advanced education sector in constituency organizations, advocacy groups, provincial and national associations, and at the University of Alberta. In her current role, she works to advance the university's reputation and priorities with government and stakeholders locally, provincially and nationally. Alexis holds both a bachelor's and a master's degree in Political Science from the U of A and has completed a program on change leadership at Rotman School of Management.

Email: alexis.ksiazkiewicz@ualberta.ca | Phone: 780-492-2287

Kelly Spencer

Associate Vice-President (Development)

Kelly Spencer

Kelly Spencer leads the university’s Development portfolio, supporting fundraising and external engagement activities across all five of the University’s campuses. A proud alumna of the University of Alberta with a BA (Political Science), and an MA (Communications and Technology), Kelly joined the university in 2004, holding a number of leadership positions over the years, most recently serving as Interim Vice-President, Advancement from 2018 to 2020. In addition to her university experience, Kelly was a consultant for a big four firm where she worked with private and public sector clients in Canada and the United States to develop operational excellence.

Email: kelly.spencer@ualberta.ca | Phone: 780-492-0333

Jennifer Pascoe

Associate Vice-President ( Strategic Communications)

Jennifer Pascoe

An award-winning communicator with nearly two decades of experience in all realms of communications, Jennifer Pascoe leads the Strategic Communications team in External Relations. In her role, she focuses on an integrated and collaborative approach to communications on campus, including news and media relations, strategic storytelling, internal communication, and social media and digital engagement to support the University's varied initiatives and stakeholders. Jennifer earned both her BA (Hons. Art History) and MA (Communications and Technology) from the University of Alberta, and she holds a Diploma in Public Relations (MacEwan). Her graduate research explored why—and how—scientists use social media to communicate, focusing on knowledge translation, an academic focus that informs her daily professional practice and strategy. Jennifer has also taught strategic communication planning, project management, digital communications, issues management and crisis communications at MacEwan University in Edmonton. She has worked on campus since 2007, most recently as the Director of Communications & Engagement in the Faculty of Science.

Email: jennifer.pascoe@ualberta.ca | Phone: 780-818-6806

Associate Vice-President ( Marketing)

Sonia Piano

Sonia is an experienced marketing professional and combines extensive experience in marketing, branding, and change management, with a deep understanding of the community and dynamics of the Edmonton and Alberta landscape. Since 2014, she has been Managing Director, Brand at ATB Financial, where she led a major brand redevelopment, challenging traditional perceptions of the bank with innovative, customer-focused digital story-telling. Previously, as Brand Manager for the Province of Alberta, she spearheaded a national and international research program, which led to a refreshed provincial identity, and brand platform that is still in use today. Sonia also has significant experience working on the agency side of the business. During her 10 years as a Group Account Director with DDB Canada, she provided branding strategy direction to companies such as Western Canada Lotteries, Intuit Canada, ATCO, and Edmonton International Airports.