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New Executive Director and Governance: Les Amis de la montagne Welcomes the Winds of Change

Montréal, February 5, 2024 – Les Amis de la montagne is pleased to announce important changes to their management and governance. These changes have been carefully planned to ensure that the leaders now arriving will inject new blood into the nearly 40-year-old organization, while retaining the experience and knowledge acquired by previous leaders, who will now take on new roles at Les Amis.

Christian Sénéchal, new Executive Director of Les Amis

Christian Sénéchal, an experienced manager and administrator, has been appointed the new Executive Director by our Board of Directors. Having begun his career as a self-managed theatre director and producer, Mr. Sénéchal was director of National Centre for Dance Therapy, a division of Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, from 2011-2019. His most recent post was Executive Director of Les Arts et la Ville. Mr. Sénéchal’s mandate with Les Amis begins February 5, 2024.

An Arts graduate from the University of Ottawa, he also holds an advanced graduate diploma in the management of cultural organizations, an executive MBA in socially responsible businesses from UQAM, and an EMBA from the Université de Paris-Dauphine. As Mr. Sénéchal steps into his new role, he will have many challenges and opportunities to embrace as part of the Les Amis mission.

Christian Sénéchal, new Executive Director of Les Amis
Photo: NathB photographe

"Les Amis de la montagne's work on Mount Royal is a model of collective innovation and eco-responsible commitment. It's an honour for me to be a part of the  team that works so tirelessly to protect and enhance the precious jewel that is the mountain," explains Mr. Sénéchal. “We have our work cut out for us in the near future. We must find temporary offices while Smith House undergoes renovations starting this fall. We must also launch the large-scale conservation plan that we recently unveiled. And we must ensure that we have the necessary conditions for the new welcome centre project that Les Amis has been nurturing for years. All while continuing to offer quality services to the millions of people who visit the mountain every year. I am confident we will meet these challenges with determination and vision.” 

Hélène Panaïoti, departing Executive Director of Les Amis since 2018, is thrilled to pass on the torch to her successor and focus on building the organization’s financial resilience. “We are in good hands with Christian Sénéchal. His inspiring vision is well aligned with the values and priorities of Les Amis’s seasoned team,” says Panaïoti. “Protecting Mount Royal is fundamental to the wellness and quality of life of Montrealers. I will continue to support the important work carried out by Les Amis by dedicating myself to the development of philanthropic and partnership opportunities that will give our organization the resources needed to reach its goals.”

Three new Board Chairs

As President of Les Amis up until last fall, Peter A. Howlett, C.M. played a pivotal role in the development of a framework to protect and promote the mountain as a natural and historical jewel. After 37 years of exceptional service to Mount Royal and the community at large, Mr. Howlett recently decided to to hand over chairmanship of the three companies he headed under the Les Amis banner to qualified successors. Mr. Howlett’s remarkable legacy was celebrated when he received the 2023 Prix du Mont-Royal at an awards ceremony held last October. 

Following a review of our organization's governance, Les Amis now has a new approach to take us into the future. The boards of directors of the three corporations operating under the name of Les Amis de la montagne—that is, Centre de la montagne, Café des Amis and Les Amis de la montagne—now each have a chair.

This transformation is already helping to diversify the skills of Les Amis' at the board level.. Such diversity is necessary for an organization whose mission encompasses programs and activities as varied as natural and cultural heritage preservation, environmental education and stewardship, hospitality operations, and a rich activities program for the public that celebrates the mountain, all in collaboration with a large number of public, private and institutional partners.

Julie Laurence is now Chair of Les Amis de la montagne's Board of Directors. She was, until recently, a senior legal counsel and Vice President, Legal Affairs at Rogers Communications, but her involvement with Les Amis dates back more than ten years, when she was involved in the organization of the Chapeau Mont Royal! fundraising event. Ms. Laurence has been a member of Les amis' Board of Directors since 2020.

Joanne Lalumière is now Chair of the Board of Directors of the Centre de la montagne. Following a Bachelor’s degree in geography and agronomy, as well as a Master’s in environmental science, Ms. Lalumière went on to become Senior Director, Communications and Environment at Hydro-Québec, and General Manager of Granby Zoo. A governor of Les Amis de la montagne since 2001, she was the interim Executive Director of Les Amis in 2015 and a founding member of the Board of Directors of Café des Amis. Ms. Lalumière brings extensive experience as a manager and administrator who knows the organization intimately.

Last, but not least, Clément Demers, O.Q., a founding member and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Café des Amis, is now its Chair. An architect, urban planner and honorary professor at the Université de Montréal, Mr. Demers’ previous experience includes Deputy Director of the Service de l'urbanisme et du développement urbain for the City of Montréal, and Executive Director of the Société du Quartier international de Montréal. He has also served on the board of Les Amis de la montagne since 2014.

Peter Howlett remains President Emeritus, ensuring that his work, which benefits the entire Montreal community, continues.

About Les Amis de la montagne
Founded in 1986, Les Amis de la montagne is a non-profit organization with the mission to protect and enhance Mount Royal through community involvement, environmental education and advocacy for the mountain’s interests. Through our actions, we aim to promote informed decision-making in regard to Mount Royal’s ongoing sustainability and ensure that the protection of every aspect of the mountain is at the centre of discussions surrounding urban development in Montreal.  

Anaïs Légaré Morasse 
Les Amis de la montagne 
514 843-8240 Ext. 241

Photo: NathB photographe


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