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Success stories

Matthew Johnson | Khanh Dang | Kate Ryan | MPS Students in Canadian Heritage

Matthew Johnson

Matthew JohnsonCongratulations to Matthew Johnson, MPS Class of 2012, who recently began the City of Windsor's new Economic Development Officer position.

From receiving the Deputy Minister's Award for his work at the the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to being the Program Lead for Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities Fund, Matthew has always been quite successful throughout his vibrant budding career. We are, therefore, extremely confident that the fate of Windsor is in very good hands.

Check out CTV News Windsor's website to learn more about Matthew and the importance of his new position. Congratulations Matthew! We're so proud of you.


Khanh Dang

Khanh DangAfter completing her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Health Studies at McMaster University, Khanh Dang wasn’t exactly sure which career to pursue, but she knew she was interested in health policy.

“I knew that I wanted to be in an industry where I could positively impact others and contribute to my community,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to be able to participate in and influence the design of our communities and structure of our systems.”

Khanh was drawn to Waterloo’s Master of Public Service program because it allows students to explore their interests in a variety of sectors, whether it be in education, environmental sciences or health, while learning hands-on practical skills. “The program was the perfect mix between theoretical-based learning, drawing on the fundamentals of Canadian public administration and the policymaking process, to project management and economic-based scenarios we would find ourselves facing in the public sector.”

Co-op was another big draw of the program. For her work term in 2013, Khanh was a health promotion assistant within the Region of Peel Public Health department for nine months and has continued working at the Region ever since. In 2014, she became a health promoter in the Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention division and, last year, became a research and policy analyst supporting the Long Term Care department. With her multidisciplinary team, she provides direction and support to all five of the Region’s long term care homes, ensuring programs and services are guided by evidence and best practices.

Through her work, Khanh hopes to be able to support the Region deliver health services across the continuum of care, towards a more integrated health system. “My role is to encourage collaboration with health system partners such as those at the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, our Local Health Integration Networks, hospitals, clinicians, and research and academic institutions,” she says. “I can support this by contributing to research, evidence-based practice, and  knowledge sharing across the seniors’ care sector."

When she joined the Region of Peel, she was excited to see the culture of learning and range of opportunities available to staff. “One of the things I love the most about working for the Region of Peel is the opportunity to grow,” she says. “The Region delivers a wide range of programs and services for residents and clients of Peel, supported by dedicated staff, there are many opportunities to learn and become involved in different areas of this organization.”


Kate Ryan

Kate RyanKate Ryan has long been drawn to education.

At first, she wanted to be a teacher. While studying toward her degree in history at the University of Windsor, she volunteered at her old high school. She soon realized the profession wasn’t for her, but her passion for education remained.

Her former teacher suggested that, instead of teaching, she work to “effect change from the inside.” Kate applied for and was accepted into Waterloo’s Master of Public Service program. A year later, she found her way into the Ontario Ministry of Education.

A class project she completed on the benefits of Full-Day Kindergarten helped her land her first position in the ministry. “The co-op position I was interviewing for happened to be with the branch that was rolling out the capital funding for Full-Day Kindergarten,” she says. “My work on the project allowed me to bring extra knowledge to the interview and demonstrated my interest in the work the branch was doing.”

Kate has never left the ministry. She started as a junior policy analyst, then policy advisor before becoming the Executive Assistant to the Director of the Student Success Policy Branch and then coordinator of the Education Finance Branch.

Today, Kate is the Executive Assistant to the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Financial Policy and Business Division. She provides strategic coordination and advice to the ministry and the division as a whole, which is responsible for the education budget, capital construction and student transportation, among other things. The position involves long hours, but Kate finds it rewarding.

“Education will never go away; it will always be a constant in our society,” she says. “I love that I wake up every day knowing I have a small part to play in the system that shapes so many young lives. To have this type of role is truly humbling.”

One of the projects Kate has enjoyed working on most was the Dual Credits program, which has grown to allow more than 20,000 students a year to earn a college credit while working towards their Ontario secondary school diplomas. The program was targeted to students at risk of dropping out. “These programming opportunities provide students the motivation they need to stay in school and earn their diploma, which was a very rewarding experience,” she says.

The Master of Public Service program helped Kate imagine the many directions her career could go. Still, getting where you want to go takes a lot of hard work, she says.

“Where you end up in government is all about what you put into your role. Be accurate, be on time and be flexible and your work will be recognized,” says Kate.

“Also, never walk away from your desk without a pen and paper. Upper management tends to have their ‘big ideas’ on the fly and you will need to remember what they have directed.”


MPS students succeed at Canadian Heritage

Canadian Heritage team

Since 2011, students from various MPS cohorts have earned continued success working at the Department of Canadian Heritage. Starting their career journeys as co-op students, these MPSers gathered top-notch policy experience that helped them acquire post-graduation employment with the federal public service.

Canadian Heritage supports programs and provides policy advice on culture, arts, sport, copyright regime and official languages through direct and indirect initiatives. The books we read, music we listen to, and the movies, television shows and sports that we watch are all impacted by this department.

“The knowledge gained from uWaterloo’s MPS program helped them understand the work that needed to be done more quickly,” says Karyn Wichers, Manager of Policy and Research at Sport Canada, who has hired two MPS graduates and is impressed with their knowledge of the public service. “They are good team players. It is important that we are able to work well together and create a pleasant environment.”

Myriam Brochu, Manager of Film and Video Policies and Programs, agrees that MPS students demonstrate an advantage during the interview process. “Maturity, knowledge, experience and skills were the reasons for our decision,” she says and adds that “they also demonstrated their curiosity to learn and explore new avenues, as well as a sense of initiative.”

With the creative Waterloo spirit, our MPS alumni have expressed their fondness of the department’s diverse portfolio and atmosphere, which is reflected in the work that they do.

BenBen Schnitzer, Policy Analyst, Film and Video Policy and Programs, MPS 2012

As a trained classical singer with noteworthy policy analysis skills, Canadian Heritage is a perfect fit for Ben. “Contributing to policies that promote culture and create conditions for the arts to flourish is very meaningful to me,” he says.

Ben presently works on a team that negotiates audiovisual coproduction treaties between Canada and foreign partners. “This provides opportunities to expand audiences for Canadian film and television projects, and creates jobs by attracting foreign investment. I get to be creative and am encouraged to look at the issues from different angles which really appeals to me.”

KeithKeith Chau, Policy Analyst, Copyright and International Trade Policy, MPS 2013

Keith’s previous nonprofit experience working with at-risk youth in arts and cultural programs sparked his interest in contributing to the department. “I was able to see that arts and culture can provide a tangible purpose of employment for youth and are important aspects of the Canadian identity.”

Keith presently works on copyright policy development in anticipation of the five-year review of the Copyright Act, and took part in the legislative process that passed the Copyright Modernization Act, which brought Canada in line with today’s technological changes. He also conducts economic research for senior management on various domestic and international copyright issues. In addition to his regular work, Keith is responsible for the bilingual public correspondence portfolio. “I get to respond to Canadians on a daily basis regarding copyright. Knowing that you are able to directly assist them is a good feeling and the reason why I entered the public service.”

BelqiesBelqies Hamidzada, Policy Officer, Sport Canada Policy and Planning, MPS 2013

Belqies is interested in new methods of social financing which she analyzed during her MPS Major Team Project. “My background in this area ties in with the mission of Sport Canada, which drew me to the organization,” she says. “Social financing is a tool that can be used to increase opportunities for Canadians to participate and excel in sport. It is an up and coming topic in Canada, and I am excited to be a part of its development”

In addition to researching current and emerging issues in sport, Belqies works with a team to develop, align and implement policies, programs, and strategies.  For example, the team is responsible for monitoring and leveraging policies to enable opportunities for underrepresented groups to participate in sport.

AshishAshish Sharma, Student Data Analyst, Periodical Publishing Policy, MPS 2014

Combining his background in Business Administration, and the skills learned from the MPS program, Ashish was able to evaluate federal programs that affect the cultural sector of the economy. “Supporting cultural industries provides economic value in addition to the social benefits we tend to consider.”

Ashish provided statistical analysis for the Canada Periodical Fund which financially assists Canadian print magazines, non-daily newspapers and digital periodicals. “One of the most rewarding experiences was my presentation of the annual report. My work helped senior management make decisions about how to continue providing value for tax-payers’ money.”


Congratulations to our graduates in Ottawa!  We look forward to hearing about your continued success in the federal public service. 

- Written by Kayla McKinnon