GovernmentHRLeadershipManagement
Simon Coakeley
April 26, 2016

Ex immigration and refugee board director to head federal retirees association

Simon Coakeley, who served as executive director and chief operating board of the country's largest administrative tribunal, is now CEO of the National Association of Federal Retirees.

Canada’s largest organization advocating for retirees from federal, police and military services has appointed a former top official of the Immigration and Refugee Board as its new chief executive officer.

Simon Coakeley, who served as executive director and chief operating board of the country’s largest administrative tribunal, is now CEO of the National Association of Federal Retirees.

The NAFR seeks to protect the pension rights and health benefits of more than 185,000 former government personnel including 60,000 former military and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It is considered the largest advocacy organization for federal retirees and veterans in Canada. The group has 82 offices throughout the country and also counts on more than 1,000 volunteers.

The organization announced the appointment of Coakeley at a time when the NAFR said it is “working on several fronts” to make sure the contributions of its members and all retirees as protected as the new Liberal government progresses with its mandate.

Coakeley is a lawyer and government executive with almost 30 years of operational and policy-oriented experience in the federal government. He was previously chair of the board of directors of the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Services of Canada, deputy commissioner of the Office of the Conflict and Ethics Commissioner, Correctional Services Canada, deputy commissioner for the Atlantic Region, and assistant commissioner for human resources  at Correctional Services Canada.

“Mr. Coakeley’s work on veterans and pension issues is particularly relevant and bodes well in terms of advancing the many issues facing the Association,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the National Association of Federal Retirees board of directors. “His positive outlook and innovative approach will further position the Association as an important voice in this country. I know that I speak for the Board and all of the Association when I welcome Mr. Coakeley to his new position.”

Von Finckenstein noted Coakeley’s successes in managing large organizations, working with central agencies, cooperating with parliamentary committees and conducting high-level negotiations.

Coakeley “will oversee a number of initiatives designed to protect the pensions and health-care benefits of federal retirees. Working closely with volunteers, key stakeholders and our Preferred Partners,” the association said in a statement.

Following the announcement of the Liberal’s Federal Budget for 2016, the National Association of Federal Retirees expressed approval of what it called “key improvements for veterans and investments for seniors.”

Then acting association CEO Debbie Bernhardt, noted that several government commitments, worth $78.1 million over five years would benefit veterans:

  • The government’s promise to address financial and service shortfalls for veterans
  • The re-opening nine Veterans Affairs offices
  • Opening a new veterans facilities in Surrey, B.C.
  • Working with Northern partners on veterans outreach
  • Plans of Veterans Affairs to hire more case managers
  • Plans to streamline and simplify system of financial support for veterans

About this author

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Nestor Arellano

Nestor is a Toronto-based journalist who specializes in writing about technology and business. He is the editor of Vanguard Magazine and the associate editor of IT in Canada and a regular contributor to CGE.

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