Congratulations to Tanya Zayed, recipient of the 2017–2018  Alumna of the Year Award

Tanya Zayed
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Saint Paul University (SPU) is pleased to announce that the 2017–2018 Alumna of the Year award will be presented to Ms. Tanya Zayed. Tanya graduated from SPU in 2008 with a master’s degree in Conflict Studies and has become an internationally recognized figure in the field of child protection.

Ms. Zayed is currently working with Georgia State University’s U.S. Department of Defense Minerva project on the prevention of radicalization of youth to violent extremism; with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research; and with UNICEF headquarters on adolescent participation in humanitarian settings. 

Tanya has worked and volunteered for a number of international organizations such as Save the Children, War Child Canada, Mines Action Canada, and Oxfam. Notably, she has contributed to the International Criminal Court’s Policy on Children and advised the United Nations on protocol surrounding children involved with armed conflict.

Tanya is perhaps best known for her work with The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire’s (ret.) Child Soldiers Initiative. Lieutenant-General Dallaire, the recipient of a Saint Paul University honorary doctorate in 2007, hired Tanya as a project coordinator in 2008, and after nearly eight years of dedicated work, Tanya became the deputy director and headed the training program. 

Born to a multi-ethnic and multi-religious family, Tanya grew up with a broad worldview and benefited from the knowledge and perspective that a cross-cultural childhood offers. Possessing a natural penchant for humanitarian causes, Tanya began her career in Ottawa working with homeless individuals and at-risk youth. As she progressed in her career, her mandates expanded to encompass humanitarian issues on a global scale, and shortly thereafter, her international career began. 

As an intern with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Tanya moved to Bolivia to work with at-risk children and youth living on the streets or living in prisons with their parents. This experience deepened her interest in social justice mechanisms, opened her eyes to the inequalities caused by poverty, and reinforced her focus on young people, which greatly shaped the path of her career.

Tanya has become a globally renowned expert on the impacts of war on children. Her years of on-the-ground experience have made her highly sought after in her field of work. Ms. Zayed is now a consultant with UNICEF in New York, and her important work continues to make a difference in various countries immersed in conflict.

Tanya is an excellent example of a passionate individual who is committed to bringing positive change to the world; leaning into some of the darkest issues our world faces, where many can hardly look. She embodies the values and mission of Saint Paul University with grace and dedication, and her work has made a tremendous impact in a domain with immense challenges. 

Saint Paul University congratulates Tanya Zayed for this achievement and wishes her continued success in her personal mission as she continues to be the face of change in the world.

Lt. Gen. (Ret) Roméo Dallaire


“Tanya was an integral part of the implementation of my idea of a preventative approach to ending the use of child soldiers. It was important that I hire a self-starter, motivated to take on the responsibility for our organization’s nascent operations at the time. As a Canadian humanitarian and global advocate for children, I was looking for individuals who shared my vision, work ethic, and passion for social change. I found that person in Tanya. 

She is not afraid to get her boots dirty and stand her own [ground] with high-ranking military officers from around the world. Her passion for child protection and dedication to children’s rights positioned her as an integral member of my team and many of us benefited from her enthusiasm and her expertise.”

–  Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Roméo Dallaire


 “I met Tanya Zayed in 2007, during my first year as a professor at Saint Paul University. She embodied the traits of alumna of the year even then: a passionate commitment to social justice combined with the analytical and practical skills to make things happen. Trilingual, Tanya has dedicated her professional and personal life to advancing the rights of children and young people in armed conflict zones across three continents. I have no doubt that she will continue to touch the lives of many people, inspire Saint Paul University students, and make her alma mater – and her former Saint Paul University professors and classmates – proud.”

– Christina Clark-Kazak, former Saint Paul University professor and current associate professor at the University of Ottawa


Christina Clark-Kazak, former Saint Paul University Professor and current Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa
Michel Chikwanine, Former Child Soldier | United Nations Fellow for People of African Descent

“Tanya is an exceptional human being whose passion and dedication to social justice has catapulted her to work in exceptional places. Whether it's her work with Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire or with the United Nations, she has earned the respect and gratitude of those for whom and with whom she has worked. Saint Paul University's focus on the multiple facets of the human experience is reflected in so much of the work that Tanya does. While her work ethic and dedication are commendable traits, it's her ability to empathize and humanize the work she does that makes her an exceptional candidate. In Tanya, Saint Paul University has a great alumna.” 

- Michel Chikwanine, Former Child Soldier | United Nations Fellow for People of African Descent




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Past Alumni of the Year 

2016 / 2017

The Most Reverend Donald Bolen, B. Theology, '78
Archbishop of Regina

2015 / 2016

Jean La Rose, B. Social Communication, '78
CEO, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN)

2014 / 2015

Hazel Markwell, Ph.D Theology, '65
Director, Centre for Clinical Ethics

2013 / 2014

Gil Remillard, B. Philosophy '65
Founding Chairman, International Economic Forum of the Americas

2012 / 2013

Françoise Lagacé, B. Philosophy ’65
Pastoral facilitator, Archdiocese of Gatineau

Gilles Lagacé, B. Philosophy '65, B. Theology '70, M.A. Mission Studies '04
Labour Relations Advisor (Retired)

Isabelle Lagacé, Certificate in Social Communications '97
Directorate of Communications and Corporate Affairs, Cégep de l'Outaouais

2011 / 2012

Monsignor André Drouin, P.H., B. Philosophy '58, M.A. Pastoral Science '79
Pastor, Saint Anne’s Parish, Ottawa (Deceased)

2010 / 2011

Reverend Isaac-C. Martinez-Chuquizana, M.S.A., M.A. in Mission Studies '93
Animator General, Missionaries of the Holy Apostles

2009 / 2010

Dr. Elisabeth Jeannine Lacelle, B. Theology '67, Theology Licence '67
Professor Emeritus, Saint Paul University

2008 / 2009

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, o.m.i., M.A. Theology '71
Archbishop of Chicago (Deceased)

2007 / 2008

Alain Gourd, B.Philosophy '66, M.A. Philosophy '68
Founder, President and CEO of BCE Media (Deceased)

2006 / 2007

Lieutenant-Colonel the Reverend Canon Michelle Staples, B.Theology '95, M.A. Theology '96
Command Chaplain for the Royal Canadian Navy

2005 / 2006

The Most Reverend Roger Ébacher, Theology Licence '61
Archbishop Emeritus, Archdiocese of Gatineau

2004 / 2005 

Michel Brazeau, B.Theology '87
Senior Director, Canadian School of Public Service

2003 / 2004

Sister Marie-Paule Couturier, f.m.a., M. Canon Law '91, Licence Canon Law '91
Vice-Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth (retired)

2002 / 2003

Monsignor Patrick Powers, P.H., B. Theology '87
General Secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

2001 / 2002

Kirby Kranabetter, M.A. Pastoral Studies '93
Director of Mission, Ethics and Client Relations, Bruyere Continuing Care

2000 / 2001

Pierre Bergeron, B.Theology '70
Editor and Columnist, Le Droit

1999 / 2000

Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J., M. Religious Education '73
Author/Human Rights Activist

1998 / 1999

The Reverend Roger Guindon, o.m.i., Philosophy Licence '43, B.Theology '45, Doctorate Theology '54
Founder, Saint Paul University (Deceased)

1997 / 1998

The Most Reverend Vernon James Weisgerber, B. Philosophy '58, Philosophy Licence '59
Archbishop Emeritus, Archdiocese of Winnipeg

1996 / 1997

Sister Monique Picard, SGM, Certificate in Theology '94
Sisters of Charity Montréal (Grey Nuns)

1995 / 1996

Frances Boire-Carrière, B.Theology '74, Philosophy Licence '76
Director, Human Resources, Bank of Canada

1994 / 1995

The Reverend Doctor Jean Monbourquette, o.m.i., B. Theology '57, Theology Licence '59
Professor, Saint Paul University (deceased)

1993 / 1994

Brother Réjean Gadouas, o.m.i., Theology Certificate '82
Founder of La Manne de l’île and Co-founder of Le Gîte Ami

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