Women at the CNSC - CNSC Online - Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Women at the CNSC

From technical specialists...
...to nuclear engineers...
...and environmental assessment officers...
...women at the CNSC make up a diverse group who work to ensure that nuclear in Canada is regulated in a way that protects the safety of workers, the public and the environment.
Learn about their important contribution to nuclear safety.

Dynamic and Varied Careers

Women make up 48 percent of the workforce at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and occupy a variety of fast-paced and stimulating positions.

Meet the Women

Scroll down and select a profile to learn about some of the rewarding work that they do every day.

Meet Lisa Thiele

Senior General Counsel and Director, Legal Services Division

Lisa Thiele

The Legal Services team provides strategic advice to help the Commission achieve its goals in a legally sound manner. We ensure that the CNSC is aware of potential legal implications of initiatives, and we represent the CNSC's interests in litigation.

Career Path

I had no intention of becoming a lawyer, and was happily preparing for grad school after an undergraduate degree in English Literature, when I wrote the Law School Admission Test on the recommendation of a friend. It turned out I enjoyed law even more than literature, but there are certainly parallels between the two – the words one chooses are important in law, as with any good literature, and a lawyer can be quite creative in crafting a position to advocate!

Role and Responsibilities

As in-house counsel, I provide legal advice on all aspects of the CNSC's work. Being in-house counsel to an organization like the CNSC is like the best of two worlds – government and corporate in-house – because I get to provide legal guidance and direction on matters of public importance and, at the same time, I have relative autonomy and a broad scope of work.

Special Achievements

My work touches on international and Canadian law, regulation, inspections, litigation and even prosecution. I was privileged a few years ago to work on the first conviction under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (R. v. Yadegari). It was quite rewarding professionally for all those involved – a conviction on nine offences under several different statutes requires collaboration and time. This was a great achievement for the CNSC and non-proliferation in Canada.

Meet Patsy Thompson

Director General, Directorate of Environmental and Radiation Protection and Assessment

Patsy Thompson

The Directorate of Environmental and Radiation Protection and Assessment ensures that licensees protect the environment, and the health and safety of workers and the public. We're also responsible for developing requirements like regulatory documents, standards and procedures. 

Career Path

I come from a family where I was the first to obtain a post-secondary degree. At first I wanted to be a doctor. But, when I was exposed to biology in a pre-med program, I realized that work in biology was what I truly wanted to do. My grandmother was Métis and would take us to the forest to explore medicinal herbs, and I think that these traditions, coupled with my schooling, were influential. After occupying a few technical positions, I completed a Ph.D in Aquatic Sciences (Ecotoxicology) at the Université du Québec – the rest, they say, is history!

Role and Responsibilities

Currently, I work with the directorate to ensure that nuclear is regulated in a way that continuously protects human health and the environment. I also verify that all the work we do is scientifically and technically sound. I work with 65 technical specialists, and it truly is the biggest pleasure to see so many different people from different disciplines coming together. I also participate in public outreach and adore learning; luckily, this position lets me do so every day.

Special Achievements

From 1994 to 1996, I helped the CNSC become the first nuclear regulator in the world to create an approach to evaluating impacts to the environment from radiation. A few years later, I assisted the CNSC again in becoming the first nuclear regulator in the world to conduct technical assessments for metals not traditionally looked at in uranium mines and mills in northern Saskatchewan, like selenium and molybdenum.     

Meet Solange Laberge

Technical Specialist / Senior Regulatory Program Officer

Solange Laberge

Working with various teams through assignments is fantastic. There are new challenges that allow you to broaden your perspectives on a personal level. On an organizational level, you can become a specialist in more areas to assist the Commission to do its work with better clarity and balance.

Career Path

I was quite sheltered from the world while growing up in Montréal's South Shore. Even so, I was always fascinated by science. While studying for my Bachelor's degree in Physics, I found out that engineering was actually what I wanted to do all along. Later, while I was completing my Bachelor of Engineering, I visited the Darlington site for a thermodynamics course and became particularly fascinated by the prospect of producing safe and clean energy. Then, when Hydro-Québec gave me a grant for pursuing my Master's degree in Nuclear Engineering at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, I took the plunge, never afraid of a challenge!

Role and Responsibilities

In 2012, while working as a safety analyst for the Point Lepreau Generating Station, I was offered a technical specialist position with the Reactor Thermalhydraulics Division at the CNSC. My work has included reviews of safety analyses and documents used by licensees to ensure the safe operation of their plant. I have also led reviews. Currently on assignment as a regulatory program officer for the Pickering Regulatory Program Division, I lead the regulatory oversight of safety analysis and of the lessons learned from the nuclear accident in Fukushima.

Special Achievements

Professionally, a highlight for me was being tasked with leading the resolution of long-standing regulatory actions, which led to my receiving a Bravo Award for an outstanding contribution. Personally, what definitely stands out is my family's successful move to Ottawa. We were eager to experience the big city – after living in the small town of Grand Bay, New Brunswick, any city was big by comparison! With so much to do here, we are now thriving.

Meet Nadine El Dabaghi

Specialist, Systems Engineering Division

Nadine El Dabaghi

My team, Systems Engineering Division (SED), supports the CNSC's mandate and mission by providing regulatory leadership and expertise in the fields of chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering.

Career Path

I graduated from electrical engineering at the University of Ottawa and also have a background in telecommunications. I look back at the last few years as a specialist and see a tremendous difference! Here at the CNSC, I can truly attest to the saying "we learn something new every day". I enjoy what I do very much as an electrical engineering specialist working in the nuclear power industry – I believe that this is just the beginning of a career that has limitless possibilities and see myself only moving forward in the future.

Role and Responsibilities

Although engineering is, by perception, a male-dominated domain, for me being a woman in nuclear engineering does not make me feel any less powerful. I am currently part of the Systems Engineering Division, where we regulate the safe production of nuclear energy at Canadian nuclear power plants. My role varies, from reviewing licensee submissions and performing site inspections, to developing inspection guides and speaking at international nuclear conferences. I am currently specializing in electrical power systems as well as mechanical/process systems.

Special Achievements

I have been privileged as a young engineer to be given responsibilities designed for senior staff. For example, I have developed an inspection guide for a special safety system and was the lead specialist for a new type of inspection when it was performed for the first time. I am also the co-author of a technical paper describing the emergency power systems at Canadian nuclear power plants.

Meet Stephanie Eisan

Regulatory Program Officer, Darlington Regulatory Program Division

Stephanie Eisan

In essence, our team is responsible for the development, management and implementation of the regulatory program for Ontario Power Generation Darlington, which includes licencing and compliance activities by staff in Ottawa and by onsite inspectors.  

Career Path

I grew up in the Maritimes where there wasn't much nuclear industry, but when the Westray coal mining accident happened in Nova Scotia, I was 11. The event hit me hard – my dad worked in an industrial environment, shipbuilding, and I knew then that industrial safety was what I wanted to pursue professionally. I completed a Bachelor's of Nuclear Engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and I was among the first group of students to complete a 15-month internship with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) from 2006 to 2007.

Role and Responsibilities

I act as the interface between the various facets of regulation for power reactors, specifically Darlington. My responsibilities include coordinating technical reviews, licensing and communication of regulatory positions to the licensee. I rely on the expertise of technical specialists and sometimes Legal Services to ensure that the positions formed and communicated through my director align with the mandate of the CNSC and Darlington's operating licence, and are consistent across the Directorate of Power Reactor Regulation. My particular responsibilities within my team include the areas of operating performance and fitness for service. There are always lessons to be learned and room for improvement!

Special Achievements

I am particularly excited about having received an Excellence Award for my role as part of the design team for Exercise Unified Response, which took place in May 2014. It was a challenging and fun multi-agency nuclear emergency exercise. Additionally, I am proud to have done work for the annual public nuclear power plant reports for 2012, 2013 and 2014.

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