CPA Parliamentary Academy
65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference

Workshop D: Professional Development for Parliamentarians - Opportunities and Challenges for Small Parliaments (CPA Small Branches topic)

About the Workshop

Workshop D: Professional Development for Parliamentarians - Opportunities and Challenges for Small Parliaments

This workshop was designed to look at the approach taken by Parliaments and other entities to provide professional development aimed primarily at elected representatives. Through the lens of both small and large Parliaments, the session asked why is professional development so important to ensure new and experienced Members can fulfil their functions to the highest possible standards? What are the challenges and obstacles in introducing or implementing such programmes? What approach has been taken to date and what lessons can be learnt from current professional development programmes? The session also examined how professional development training can be retained and embedded for maximum impact and outcomes, as opposed to being forgotten and overlooked.


Workshop D: Professional Development for Parliamentarians - Opportunities and Challenges for Small Parliaments
Hon. Barbara Webster-Bourne, Speaker of the Anguilla House of Assembly

Holder of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in International Relations from the Florida International University.

Barbara Webster-Bourne has a 30-year career in the Tourism & Hospitality Industry and holds several certificates and awards in Hospitality Training & Management. She was appointed as an independent representative for employees to the Anguilla Social Security Board from 1999 to 2000.

In addition, Barbara Webster-Bourne is the Assistant Trainer of the M&M (Mentoring Matters) afterschool debating program, designed to assist young people with research, leadership and public speaking skills.

Hon. Jonathan O’Dea, MP, Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly

Hon. Jonathan O’Dea, MP was elected Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly on 7 May 2019. Upon his election as Speaker, he spoke to the House foreshadowing a number of changes during his speakership to improve and modernise the Parliament.

Jonathan O’Dea was elected as Member for Davidson in 2007 from a career in the private sector. He holds Bachelor degrees in Arts and Law, Master degrees in Law and Business Administration, and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Before entering politics, he initially worked in law and then in senior management roles.

Jonathan previously served as a non-executive board director of a major health insurer, HCF, as well as on the Boards of education, government and charity organisations. His previous parliamentary roles include Chair of the NSW Public Accounts Committee, Parliamentary Secretary for Major Events and Tourism, Trade and Investment and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Treasurer.

Ms Inna Popova, Director, Professional and Corporate Education

Inna Popova-Roche is currently Director, Professional and Corporate Education at the McGill University’s School of Continuing Studies, where she leads development and delivery of professional development programs, industry partnerships and custom learning solutions.

During her tenure, she significantly expanded the School’s professional development portfolio by introducing new non-credit programs and launched a new non-credit credential at McGill - professional development certificate. Several successful partnerships have been established with industry associations, professional orders, and corporate clients.

Prior to joining the McGill School of Continuing Studies, Inna held a number of management roles of increasing responsibility at the International Air Transport Association, where most recently she was the Head of Aviation Distance Learning and Travel & Tourism Training programs. During her 10-year tenure at IATA Inna gained extensive experience in management of Distance Learning programs for adult learners. She was responsible for the world’s leading distance learning program for travel and tourism personnel - IATA/UFTAA Travel & Tourism program - qualifying over 14,000 students annually through a global network of 200 Authorised Training Centers and Local Exam Coordinators.

Inna holds a Master’s in Educational Leadership degree from McGill University, a Diploma of Specialist in Philology from her native Ukraine, and a certificate in Human Resources from Concordia University.

Inna is very passionate about the importance of continuous professional development and life-long learning. She is an Advisory Board member of the Conference on Management and Executive Education (CMED), a member of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). Inna also regularly represents the School at various industry and professional association events.

Ms Alisha Todd, Director General, ParlAmericas

ParlAmericas is the inter-parliamentary institution that promotes parliamentary diplomacy in the inter-American system. Composed of the 35 national Legislatures in the Americas and the Caribbean and governed by Parliamentarians appointed by these member Parliaments, ParlAmericas brings together Parliamentarians to address issues of hemispheric importance and exchange good legislative practices; facilitates parliamentary participation in multilateral spaces; and produces tailored resources to support Parliamentarians in their work. The International Secretariat of ParlAmericas is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada.

Since 2014 as the CEO/Director General of the ParlAmericas International Secretariat, Alisha’s recent work has focused on advancing programming throughout the hemisphere to strengthen legislative responses and policy making on priority themes related to gender equality, open parliament and open government, inclusive climate action and sustainable development.

Prior to joining ParlAmericas, Alisha specialised in designing and implementing international democracy, governance, humanitarian, and security sector programming with an Ottawa-based NGO. Alisha has extensive experience in developing innovative programming, strengthening relationships, and building partnerships with international and regional stakeholders. Alisha's passion for the Americas started in her teens; having on occasion lived, worked and traveled throughout the region. She speaks English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish and is a graduate from the University of Toronto's Trinity College, specializing in International Relations and Latin American Studies.

Ms Lydia Buchanan, Deputy Head of Programmes – Bilateral Engagement and CPA Parliamentary Academy Lead

Lydia Buchanan is currently the Deputy Head of Programmes at CPA and her work focuses on parliamentary strengthening around the Commonwealth on a bilateral basis. She is also the project lead for the CPA Parliamentary Academy and has been at the forefront of its development.

Prior to this appointment, Lydia spent two years at CPA UK most recently as a Programmes Officer and before this, she supported the UK Overseas Territories Project on public financial scrutiny, a special project funded by the UK Government. Before joining CPA UK she worked as the Clerk of Council for the Legislative Council of St Helena, which is where her keen interest for CPA Small Branches and parliamentary strengthening primarily began.

Lydia has a degree in Politics and a Masters in Public Policy and Practice from the University of Greenwich. Lydia also holds a Project Management for Development (PMD Pro) certification.

Workshop Resources

Workshop D: Professional Development for Parliamentarians - Opportunities and Challenges for Small Parliaments

Workshop Summary

Workshop D: Professional Development for Parliamentarians - Opportunities and Challenges for Small Parliaments

This workshop explored approaches taken, particularly by small Parliaments, to provide professional development aimed primarily at elected representatives. The challenges in introducing or implementing such programmes were discussed, as well as the approaches that have been taken to date. It was noted that a successful professional development program requires engagement and support from within, and that Parliamentarians themselves need to be involved.

The New South Wales Legislative Assembly elected a new Speaker in 2019. Under their speakership work began to create a professional development program for Members, and in May 2020, a program was e-launched to the New South Wales parliamentary community.

The School of Continuing Studies at McGill University offers professional development programs for Parliamentarians and has done so for 10 years. Their programs are designed for busy adults, combine theory and practice and are offered fully online or blended with a 1-week residential course at McGill. These programs have had over 500 graduates from more than 50 countries.

Recognising the challenges faced by small Parliaments, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association launched the CPA Parliamentary Academy in May 2021. This online resource is available to all CPA members.

Delegates heard how ParlAmericas works to support the professional development of small states’ Parliamentarians in the Caribbean Region. Through collaboration with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and other organisations, they are working to coordinate services and streamline offerings to better serve the professional development needs of Parliamentarians.

Workshop Recommendation

Workshop D: Professional Development for Parliamentarians - Opportunities and Challenges for Small Parliaments

As part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference outcomes, each workshop put forward a recommendation. The following recommendation was approved:


“A core responsibility of all Parliaments (both large and small) should include the provision or facilitation of professional development for Parliamentarians. Such provision should be innovative and adaptive, and tailored to the needs of new and or more experienced Members.”


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