Summit Speaker Profile: Karen Ellis

What can often make or break one’s ability to lead in times of change can boil down to a manager’s situational awareness, and his or her ability to adapt to that situation can make all the difference.

Karen Ellis is the president of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. She says learning to adapt properly was one of the most important lessons she learned while in the public service.

“You have to be adaptable. What might have worked in a different department might not work in your agency,” said Ellis. “You need to adapt your leadership style and your management style to bring out the best in people.”

Ellis was appointed president of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario in July 2013. Prior to this, Ellis served as associate deputy minister at Natural Resources Canada. She has also worked at the Canada Revenue Agency, the Canadian Public Service Agency, and the Department of National Defence, among other places.

Ellis says all the recent consultations surrounding Blueprint 2020 could be a positive development for the public service.

“Blueprint 2020 is really important because it is really allowing the different levels of experience, different generations, and the different views around the country… to talk about what we think is important with regards to the public service,” said Ellis.

“People want to see us hear them and, in areas where we can take action, actually do something and, in the areas where we need to wait for bigger policy discussions, we can tell people that,” said Ellis.

Ellis will be moderating the Canadian Government Executive Leadership Summit’s panel on “Leadership Challenges and Blueprint 2020.” Also featured in this panel will be Kevin Leahy, Inspector, RCMP and chair of the National Managers’ Community; Louise Levonian, ADM, Finance, and chair, Public Service Engagement Subcommittee; and Andrew Treusch, DM, Canada Revenue Agency.

To learn more about the conference, please visit our summit website.


Jeff MackeyJeff Mackey is an intern with Canadian Government Executive, Vanguard and WRLWND magazines. Before joining us, Jeff worked with the Canadian Press in Toronto and Metro News in Regina. Now, back in his native Ottawa, Jeff is excited to cover everything from the public service and the military to today’s modern technology.

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