When the world watches the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil two years from now, they can thank Catherine St-Laurent.
As a director at Vero Communications, a strategic communications consultancy, which specializes in sport, she was behind the successful international PR campaign for Rio de Janeiro’s bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games that year.
However, that is but one in a series of achievements in a career that has gone from strength to strength. In St-Laurent’s current role as senior communications officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she is the strategy lead for Melinda Gates, supporting her involvement in groundbreaking campaigns that are helping transform the lives of women around the world.
These include the Family Planning 20-20 plan, which Gates launched in London in summer 2012 alongside UK Prime Minister David Cameron and other world leaders. The program aims to ensure contraception is available to 120 million women around the world who currently do not have access to birth control.
"Catherine has played a key role in supporting that vision and enabling Melinda’s voice to be used as effectively and powerfully as possible," says Jeremy Hillman, the foundation’s director of external relations. "The work that she has done will contribute to saving the lives of women and girls around the world."
In her post, St-Laurent oversees Gates’ external and internal communications engagements and is responsible for advising on her interaction with the media, speaking engagements, and networking with other key influencers. Her efforts have helped Gates gain broad recognition, such as her inclusion in Forbes’ list of most influential women and Glamour’s Women of the Year list in 2013.
As well as securing various media placements, profile pieces, and interviews, St-Laurent has been integral in helping Gates get her messages across in key speeches and at high-profile events such as the World Health Assembly and a Clinton Global Initiative panel with Hillary Clinton, Queen Rania of Jordan, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.
• St-Laurent masterminded the communications campaign that led to the inclusion of rugby sevens in the Olympic Games starting in 2016
• During her stay at Vero Communications, she also managed the profile of Britain's 400m Olympic gold medalist Christine Ohuruogu
• St-Laurent is a Vital Voices Pacific Northwest council member, a member of the Seattle Venture Partners, and supporter of the Women’s Funding Alliance
• A native of Montreal, she is fluent in English and French.