Denise Siele: Making History Behind the Scenes
History has been made again. Almost 10 years ago, Denise Siele, was recognized with Black History Ottawa’s 2011 Community Builder Award for already outstanding contributions which included service as the first-ever person of African descent on the Youth Services Bureau Charitable Foundation Board. Today, that trail-blazing trend continues as the first-ever African-Canadian to occupy the very public high-pressure job of Press Secretary for the leader of a major federal political party, the Conservative Party of Canada.
“It is really about finding how we can each best pitch in towards that shared goal of a better Canada,” Siele explained. “Without a doubt, public service is one way I can best make a difference. “
An award-winning former principal at Ottawa-based Hill Solutions Public Affairs, Siele’s breadth of experience with government and non-government leaders and stakeholders is valuable to her work. Notably, she has traveled to every single Canadian province and territory on multiple occasions; including during her tenure as Director of Strategic Initiatives and Operations for Equal Voice, a national organization dedicated to electing more women at all levels in Canada. Her seasoned insights were also regularly featured on Canada’s top political programs including CTV’s PowerPlay, CBC’s Power & Politics, and popular radio stations CFRA and 1310 News.
Since joining the Office of the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in early March 2020, Siele has brought to bear her unique experiences and insights in politics, public policy, and tactical outreach.
“Obviously, my intersectionality as a Black Woman who grew up in a community that I love so much shapes my outlook,” Siele explained. “But, that journey has also been one of a proud Canadian; driven to always try to put my best foot forward.”
In the National Capital Region, Denise continues to serve on the Telus Ottawa Community Board which helps fund a number of local community initiatives. She has also served as a Director of the Algonquin College Foundation Board; president of the Canadian Club of Ottawa; chair of Ottawa’s Fund for a New Generation; and founder of the Black Women’s Civic Engagement Network. In 2018, she put her name forward for the Federal Conservative Nomination in Nepean. In 2019, she helped broker the attendance of nearly 500 local students at events featuring the first Black President of the United States, Barack Obama; and former first lady Michelle Obama respectively.
“I thought it was important for our young people to see all that is possible,” Siele explained.
Among awards, Denise Siele was a 2015 recipient of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Forty under 40 Award; 2015 Ottawa Life Magazine Top 25 People in the Capital; 2013 USA State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program alumnus; 2011 YWCA Women of Distinction Award Nominee; and recipient of the 2011 University of Ottawa Engagement, Empowerment and Success Award. In 2016 she was named one of the 100 Most Accomplished Black Canadian Women.
Denise and her partner Fred Sherman are proud parents to a teenage son.