Stephen Cornish, Executive Director
Stephen Cornish is the executive director of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Canada. He began his career in experiential learning and community development projects and then moved into humanitarian assistance with MSF in 1996. Over the following ten years he worked in a variety of positions, eventually becoming head of mission on country programs in Africa, South America, and the Russian Federation for five years. He oversaw the implementation of humanitarian medical responses in situations such as civil war, disease epidemics, natural disasters and malnutrition crises. He has been heavily involved in negotiating humanitarian access in conflict settings and in the successful resolution of various hostage and crisis situations.

In Canada, Cornish served as program manager for Latin America and for conflict response situations for the Canadian Red Cross. He was also director of the overseas programs unit and policy and advocacy advisor to the president at CARE Canada. He was also on the board of MSF in Canada for four years before becoming the organization’s executive director.

Cornish has an MA in Global Risk and Crisis Management from the Sorbonne in Paris and a post graduate diploma in Conflict Resolution from the University of Bradford in the UK. He has published a number of articles on humanitarian issues, including on the well being and rights of displaced persons in Chad, on humanitarian action and civil-military issues in Afghanistan and on the impact of trade negotiations on access to medicines for the world’s poor. He also lectures on humanitarian action and assistance challenges. As executive director in Canada, he oversees MSF’s national programming, fundraising, recruitment and communications initiatives while passionately advocating on behalf of people in need and for issues relating to the organization’s international medical humanitarian work.

He currently serves as director on the board of Youth Challenge International, is an honourary director for Canadian Physicians for the Environment, and is a member of the steering committee for Pathways to Peace, an international peace-building initiative in Afghanistan. He is fluent in English, French, Spanish and has a working knowledge of Russian.