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Annual Report

Alumni representing Canadian interests internationally

UNB students, alumni, faculty and researchers make differences around the world. For two alumni, Dr. Deborah Lyons and David MacNaughton, they are at the forefront of diplomacy, representing Canada on the international stage.

Dr. Lyons and Mr. MacNaughton, both members of the UNB Class of 1971, are ambassadors to two of the world’s biggest power players.

Country’s top diplomat

David MacNaughton

David MacNaughton has been regarded as a kingmaker of Canadian politics for years. He served as strategist for Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In May 2016, he got the call.

Mr. MacNaughton was appointed Canada’s ambassador to the United States, where he currently finds himself at the centre of policy debates such as the softwood lumber pact and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

For more on Mr. MacNaughton’s story, see the Fall 2017 issue of Alumni News.

Representing Canadian interests

Dr. Deborah Lyons

When Deborah Lyons addressed her graduating class as UNB’s first female valedictorian in 1971, she wasn’t thinking about entering the field of international diplomacy. But Dr. Lyons, a native of Miramichi, N.B., did just that.

Dr. Lyons was named Canada’s ambassador to Israel in July 2016, following a three-year appointment as Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan, where human rights, economic development and freedom of the press were on her agenda.

Joining the federal government in 1982, Dr. Lyons rose rapidly in the Department of Natural Resources, the Privy Council Office and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Her enrolment in an international studies program at the National Defense College changed her career trajectory forever, pointing her in the direction of the diplomatic corps.

Dr. Lyons is held in high regard around the world. Her roles have included counsellor for high-tech industries for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development in Tokyo and deputy head of mission at the Canadian Embassy in Washington.

During her ambassadorship in Afghanistan, Dr. Lyons witnessed rapid changes in the country, including the departure of Canadian and other NATO International Security Assistance troops in 2014, an increase in female parliamentarians and the rise in school enrollment to nine million children — 40 per cent of whom were girls.

At UNB’s 2015 Encaenia, Dr. Lyons received an honorary doctor of letters for her distinguished career in the public service, both in Canada and abroad.

Forty-four years after she addressed her class as valedictorian, Dr. Lyons’s path brought her back to the same podium. In her delivery, she stressed the importance of following the path that requires the most courage.

“Our journey will be long and you'll end up changing your destination, sometimes by choice and sometimes by necessity.

“But if you remember where you started, if you focus on people, and if you are courageous, you will love this journey — and, if you're lucky and take what UNB has given you, you may even make the passage a little easier for the people who follow.”