Alumni profile | Alexa Nielsen

Alexa NielsenFollowing graduation from the Political Science MA program (2008) I accepted a self-funded "Junior Professional Consultant" placement in the Education Unit at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland. In this role I monitored and evaluated UNHCR Education Programs in 42 refugee camps worldwide, identifying gaps and progress in delivery. Utilizing my findings, I drafted a Standards and Indicators Report for 2006/07 and compiled a chapter published in the UNHCR Annual Statistical Yearbook (2007). In this role I also engaged with priority country representatives in need of specific support, helping to inform the creation of an Enhanced Education Strategy for 2010-2012. Lastly, I worked to update and create new indicators to monitor UNHCR education programs for use in the UNHCR's software applications, and provided technical support to Field Officers to ensure accurate data collection.

 Following my work at the UNHCR, I held two short-term consultancy posts. One was for Shelter Centre, to support the provision of shelter after natural disasters. The other was for the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, to facilitate the development of Guidance Notes and a Resource Pack to support the education needs of populations affected by conflict and disaster.

Afterwards, I was hired as Junior Policy Officer in Human Rights at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the Office of the United Nations, also in Geneva, Switzerland. In this role, I represented Canada at the UN Human Rights Council, UN Economic and Social Council, and other multilateral meetings with UN Agencies, Missions/Embassies and NGOs. Day-to-day activities included drafting and delivering statements on behalf of Canada, and negotiating UN resolutions in the areas of human rights, environment, health, and labour. Analytical reports were produced regularly for correspondence with the Department of Foreign   Affairs and International Trade in Ottawa, Canada.

 Since moving back to Canada in 2010, I have acted as a Policy Advisor for the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Canada, whereby I developed a passion for project management. In this role I analyzed policy change initiatives including gaming regulatory reform, agency transformation, and new gaming products, namely internet gaming, to identify contentious issues, policy alignments, and best practices.

As a recently certified Project Management Professional (PMP), I currently act as a Senior Strategic Planner for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario (WSIB). In this role I support the WSIB’s Senior Executives in the development and completion of strategic and corporate business plans.

 I have had a whirlwind of experiences in my career. These experiences have shaped who I am as a person, while also providing me with the guidance to know where I would like to go in the future. None of this would have been possible had I not obtained my MA and discovered my interests in international business and development, and human rights.

Thesis: Anvil Mining and the Democratic Republic of Congo: Mining in a Conflict Zone.

Alexa obtained a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Waterloo in 2008.