Jessica Van Thiel

Having lived and worked in Canada, the United Arab Emirates, France, South Africa, Mauritius, and Belgium, Jessica truly has a vast body of international experience. Her focus is in the field of aid and development, human rights, advocacy, international security programs, communications, research and science policy.

Her love of academics and interest in the field of international relations led her to complete a Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Human Security and Peacebuilding and Conflict Analysis and Management) from Royal Roads University, Canada; a Certificate in International Law, European Law in the 21st Century from Viadrina University, Germany; an MA Certificate in Human Rights Defenders Programme from the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization, Italy; an Undergraduate Degree in Political Science, International Relations from Concordia University, Canada; and a College Diploma in Languages and Communications from Vanier College, Canada.

Jess’ professional career has aligned with her academic career having worked with EU Institutions in Brussels where she worked closely on international research and development projects with Members of European Parliament, European Commission officials, and specialists in the field. She also worked and lived in Mauritius, as Gender Focal Point of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Mauritius Country Office, where she concentrated on gender inequality issues and access to justice for women, which gave her a sound foundation for the social issues in the country and region. She worked closely with the Ministry of Gender Equality as well as many international and local NGOs.

Jess’ work includes time spent working as a consultant for a Human Rights NGO based in Cape Town, South Africa, where, among other achievements, she assisted victims of domestic violence and worked on an anti-Human Trafficking Campaign during the 2010 FIFA world cup. She later developed a research project that explores questions regarding HIV/AIDS, rape and domestic violence affecting women of the community.

On a more personal note, Jess is outgoing, open-minded, and optimistic. She has traveled to over 60 countries on account of her keenness to discover the world. While completing her early post-secondary studies, she worked as a Cabin Crew member for both Air Canada and Emirates, which allowed her to visit destinations she would not have otherwise had the privilege to discover. Additionally, Jess has been volunteering with organizations such as the United Nations, Amnesty International and various Women’s Shelters for over a decade. Her passion to advocate policies and sustainable strategies that directly benefit minority groups and the impoverished are what motivated her to co-found PATHFINDER!