Immigration Advisory Committee (IAC)
Established in 1994, the Immigration Advisory Committee identifies critical issues from the institutional perspective, in particular systemic issues affecting international students, and works with CBIE and with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to attempt to resolve them.
The committee serves as the communication liaison with CBIE members on immigration issues, and facilitates the development of more effective policies, procedures and systems meeting the needs of international students and institutions.
Meet our Members
Lisa Griffin Ndour
CBIE Immigration Lead (co-chair)
For more than a decade, Lisa Griffin Ndour has dedicated her career to helping international students and newcomers to make New Brunswick their home. Fully bilingual, she’s worked at all levels to help immigrants navigate the immigration world and help them settle into her community. This has included working and volunteering with local immigrants’ settlement agencies, as a provincial immigration officer, as an international student advisor, and, most recently, as Manager of International Mobility and Student Services at the Université de Moncton. As an RCIC, she is also the CEO of LGN Services where she manages a series of immigration-related projects with numerous post-secondary institutions as well as the ISIEP-PEIEI program at CBIE. In addition to her professional expertise, Lisa brings her insight and perspective to several regional and national volunteer boards, including CBIE, and the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.
Manager, International Student Advising
University of Victoria (co-chair)
With over a decade of experience in international education, Jean has a keen interest in the interplay between immigration policy, institutional policy, and international students’ daily realities. Her passion for international education stems from her experience as an international graduate student in Ireland, and she has since had the privilege to work with students and educators at both the college and university levels. In her current role as Manager, International Student Advising at the University of Victoria, Jean leads a team of professionals helping international students and their families navigate the complexities of immigration policy and supporting them with settlement resources.
Jean holds a BA from the University of Victoria and an MA from University College Cork. She has been an RCIC since 2014.
Manager, International Student Services
University of Lethbridge
Imarú (Ima) Baquero has worked in international education for over 10 years, in both college and university environments, and currently works as the Manager, International Student Services at the University of Lethbridge. Her responsibilities have included international strategic planning, international student support and advising, education abroad, partnership development, and international student enrolment management. Imarú is a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor since 2017, she is one of the instructors of the CBIE International Students and Immigration Education Program, and she has served as a co-champion of CBIE’s Student Services Professional Learning Community.
International Student Advisor – Immigration
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Danai Bélanger is a trilingual (Shona, English, and French) international student advisor at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. She has a master’s degree from The University of British Columbia-Okanagan in Diversity Education and obtained her RCIC designation in 2015. She has spent the last 14 years navigating Canada’s many immigration systems for various institutions that span four of Canada’s provinces.
She has first-hand experience as both a user and educator of Canada’s immigration programs – experiences that have enabled her to provide the highest level of service to some of the most vulnerable people in post-secondary institutions. This experience has informed her research in community building and public policy, as well as her inherent desire to advocate for improved immigration systems in the post-secondary sector.
She has educated Royal Newfoundland Constabulary police recruits about racial bias amongst Black people and has worked with local government in New Brunswick to create an employment preparation program for international students. She has also worked with Focus for Ethnic Women (FEW) in Ontario to develop employment programming and sourcing federal and provincial funding for initiatives for racialized women.
Danai has worked as a consultant for the ISIEP-PEIEI creating and editing course content and currently sits on the Student Advising/Conseiller aux étudiants (SACE) committee.
Conseiller aux étudiants étrangers
Patrick is an International Student Advisor at Université Laval since 2006 and he is also since 2017 one of the instructors of the Programme d’études sur l’immigration et les étudiants internationaux (PEIEI). He holds the RCIC designation since 2021 as well as a bachelor in Social Work (Université Laval, 2004). He has a lifelong interest in International Education and is fluent in French, English and Spanish.
International Education Centre
Mount Saint Vincent University
Amy has been working in the international education sector in Nova Scotia for over 14 years. She began as a study abroad advisor at Dalhousie University, eventually specializing in outbound students, partnerships, and program development. In 2017, she took over managing the International Education Centre at Mount Saint Vincent University, where she oversees international student services and English language programs, in addition to study abroad. Amy holds BA from the University of Victoria, an MA from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Dalhousie University. She is also a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor. Amy is an active contributor to regional projects within both the international student service and study abroad portfolios and is recognized as an innovator in the development of new programs, services and policies that support international students in attaining their goals.
Vanesa Casanovas Michel
International Recruitment and Immigration Advisor, Department of International Affairs (DIA)
Fédération des cégeps
Ms. Casanovas Michel holds a BA in political science and administration from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2002) and a graduate diploma in international studies from the Université de Montréal (2005). In February 2016, she became a certified Regulated Immigration Counsellor for International Students (RISIA) and has since been collaborating with the Canadian Bureau for International Education on a number of education projects, including the International Students and Immigration Education Program (ISIEP) and “Immigration Policy and Law in Practice” – a continuing education workshop.
Ms. Casanovas Michel is the International Recruitment and Immigration Advisor at the Fédération des cégeps, an organization that represents 48 public CEGEPS in Quebec. Its mandate is to promote them, defend their interests, support their development, facilitate collaborative work and provide services and advice so they can carry out their educational mission.
Previously, Ms. Casanovas Michel was the person in charge of international students and the international exchange program at Polytechnique Montréal. In her role, she coordinated welcome services, as well as transition and integration services for international students and offered advice on federal and provincial immigration to this group. She also coordinated the 2010 and 2011 editions of Accueil Plus, a welcome service that allows international students arriving at the airport in Montreal in the summer to enjoy a more simplified entry process with the Canada Border Services Agency.
International Liaison Manager
Mélanie Doyon has carved out a fascinating career in the cultural and educational fields. Taking a passionate interest in international recruitment and student welcome initiatives, she has been involved in recruiting prospective Collège Boréal students since 2011. In her view, the most interesting and important aspect of her work is supporting international students. She received her RISIA designation (Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor) in 2018. As an involved Franco-Ontarian, she has in-depth knowledge of the field of education in a linguistic minority context. In 2016-2017, she visited more than 23 countries during an around-the-world trip with her partner and children.
International Student Advisor
International Education Office
Sarah has worked in international education for 20 years at Durham College in various capacities from international admissions right through to supporting international students on their post-graduation journey. As an International Student Advisor since 2012, Sarah’s heart has always been in working with international students. She is particularly passionate about helping international students navigate their way through the challenges and successes of post-secondary education and supporting students with getting their Post-Graduation Work Permit.
A strong advocate for and supporter of internationalization in the college sector, Sarah is a graduate of Fleming College in Business Administration – Marketing and Business – Administration – Materials Management). She has been a RISIA since 2018.
International Student Coordinator / Lead Immigration Advisor
Manar has been working in international education for the last ten years. She is an international student coordinator (ISC) at Langara College as well as the lead immigration consultant for the institution. She is the first point of contact for new international students and assists them with their transition to Canadian post-secondary. Since 2018, Manar has been a Regulated Immigration Consultant. As the immigration lead, she is responsible for educating and supporting the college community on immigration policies.
She is committed to fostering strong relationships while advocating for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Manar has a Bachelor’s from Simon Fraser University and is currently pursuing Master’s degree from Royal Roads University.
Coordinator, International Recruitment, RISIA
Vancouver Island University
With over a decade of teaching, student recruitment and advising experience in Eastern Europe, the United States, and the Middle East, Mikhail is passionate about supporting international students and their families in their pursuit for education and possible settlement abroad.
Being a recent immigrant himself, Mikhail moved to Canada in 2018 and worked in both private and public education sectors. In his current role as a Student Recruitment Coordinator at Vancouver Island University, Mikhail focuses on promoting Canada and specifically VIU as a study destination to stakeholders across the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
In addition to his Master’s in Education, Mikhail is a Fulbright scholar who obtained a RISIA designation in 2021. Prior to joining the Immigration Advisory Committee, Mikhail was a member of The International Network of Tomorrow’s Leaders (INTL) professional community of the CBIE.
Outside the office, Mikhail spends his time diving and exploring shorelines of British Columbia.
International Student Specialist, RCIC
University of Calgary
Canadian Association of Public Schools – International (CAPS-I)
Bonnie McKie has provided leadership in international education within the K-12 public school sector for 19 years. She has been the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Public Schools International (CAPS-I) since the not-for-profit association’s incorporation in 2008.
Prior to joining CAPS-I, as Manager of International Education for the Surrey School District, Bonnie developed the International Student Program for the largest public school district in British Columbia.
She also served on the Executive Committee of IPSEA (International Public School Education Association of BC) as Vice-President and as Co-Convenor of the Global Alliance of Education and Language Associations.
Immigration Advisor/ Conseillère en Immigration
Melissa is an immigration advisor at McGill University’s International Student Services office. Prior to working at McGill, she worked as an immigration lawyer at a Montreal based firm that specialized in immigration law. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the Université de Montréal and a Bachelor of Science from McGill University. She is a member of the Barreau du Québec.
Director, Global Engagement
University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus
Philipp is an experienced international educator and administrator, with 15+ years experience in a variety of roles. Currently he is the Director, Global Engagement at UBC’s Okanagan campus where he leads a talented team of international educators and immigration professionals. Prior to joining UBCO, he was at the Rotterdam School of Management, and the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies in the Netherlands. Originally from Germany, Philipp received his Master’s degree with honours in International Relations from the University of Leiden, his doctorate from the University of Calgary with his research focused on the internationalization of higher education and leadership and holds his RCIC designation. Philipp is involved in variety of roles with CBIE, NAFSA, AIEA and volunteers as an active member of the Central Okanagan Local Immigration Partnership Committee and is involved in various community activities focused on topics related to equity/diversity and welcoming newcomers to the Okanagan Valley.
Zuzana Schmidtova Ritzer
Manager – International Student Support
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
Zuzana has been working in international education sector for 12+ years, supporting international learners at institutions in three countries and on two continents.
In addition to her two master’s degrees (Master in North American History and Politics and Master in Management of Non Profit Organizations), Zuzana is also a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor (RISIA) since 2017, graduating as a part of the the first ever cohort of the program.
An immigrant to Canada herself, she understands the deep impact services tailored directly to international students’ needs can have on their whole journey.
Zuzana is working as a Manager, International Student Support as Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) creating support strategies and services for international learners as well as overseeing the intercultural strategy implementation.
Manager, International Admissions & Enrolment, RISIA
George Brown College
Ashley Sullivan has 11 years’ experience working in the Ontario College sector. She is the Manager, International Admissions and Enrolment at George Brown College in Toronto. Previous to her current role, Ashley was the Manager, International Student Services and Support at George Brown College for 8 years. She is passionate about supporting the positive transition of international students to Canada and assisting in their academic and career goals. Ashley also has experience working in international education abroad in Ireland as a Global Officer at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin.
Ashley is a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor (RISIA) and holds a Master’s of
Professional Education, specializing in International Education, from the University of Western Ontario.
Research & Working Group (RWG)
Building on the Immigration Advisory Committee’s (IAC) work, including the development of a suite of briefing notes (BN), the Immigration Advisory Research & Working Group (RWG) will work to illustrate the extent to which new changes or interpretation of immigration regulations impact the international student experience, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) ability to efficiently and effectively operationalize the International Student Program.
The Immigration Advisory Research & Working Group’s mandate is to:
- Support the CBIE IAC in articulating the impact of the BNs’ pressing issues
- Quantify, through different modalities, the IAC’s BNs
- Elevate IAC’s briefing note recommendation