Appointment of Vice-President (External Relations)

Elan MacDonald has been appointed the University of Alberta’s new VP (External Relations), effective January 1, 2021.

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I am pleased to announce that after an extensive search Elan MacDonald has been appointed the University of Alberta’s new Vice-President (External Relations), effective January 1, 2021.

Elan MacDonald brings a wealth of experience in building community and government partnerships and leading strategic communications. A government relations expert with 25 years’ experience working with political, community, public and private sector agencies and organizations, she is currently Senior Vice President, National Client Development at Global Public Affairs, a national consultancy focused on strategic communications and government advocacy. Ms. MacDonald joined Global Public Affairs after building and running her own public affairs firm, IMPACT Consulting, for close to a decade. Through her work, she has served as deputy chief of staff and political advisor to two Alberta premiers, as well as a political advisor to cabinet ministers.

A graduate of the University of Calgary, Ms. MacDonald has lived and worked in Alberta throughout her career, including as a member of U of A’s government relations team in 2001. She is currently vice-chair of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and a director on the boards of Edmonton Global, Atlas Biotechnologies, and Alberta Ballet. She has also been a director on the boards of the NorQuest College 1000 Women Advisory Board and Edmonton Police Foundation.

Under Elan MacDonald’s leadership, University Relations and Advancement will be merged into one External Relations portfolio, with responsibility for advancing and enhancing the relationships, reputation, and story of the University of Alberta through communications, marketing, digital strategies, government and community relations, development, and alumni relations.

On January 1, Interim Vice-President (Advancement) Kelly Spencer will continue to provide leadership over the university’s advancement activities as Associate Vice-President (Development and Alumni Relations) in External Relations. Interim Vice-President (University Relations) and Chief of Staff Catherine Swindlehurst will return to her strategic role in the President’s Office as Chief Strategy Officer. I want to thank both for their exceptional service and leadership during an extensive period of transition, and I look forward to continuing our work together along with Ms. MacDonald.

Please join me in welcoming Elan MacDonald to the U of A.

Bill Flanagan
President and Vice-Chancellor