Honorary Chair

Rear-Admiral Josée Kurtz was born in Joliette, Québec, and joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1988 as an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy. Following initial naval training leading to her bridge watchkeeping certificate, she specialized in navigation. She navigated frigates and deep draught vessels and had the privilege to share her interest and knowledge as a navigation instructor. On graduating from the year-long Operations Room Officer Course in 1997, Rear-Admiral Kurtz served in HMCS VANCOUVER as Weapons Officer and Combat Officer.

She was Executive Officer in HMCS VILLE DE QUÉBEC from 2007 to 2009. During this period, the ship deployed with the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) and was diverted on short notice for an anti-piracy escort mission with the United Nations World Food Programme off the Horn of Africa. Immediately following her second-incommand tour, she was appointed as Commanding Officer of HMCS HALIFAX from 2009 until 2011. The ship’s operational programme included a tasking to the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief mission in Haiti following the devastating January 2010 earthquake. Her major warship command was followed by an appointment as Commandant of the Canadian Forces Naval Operations School from 2011 to 2012.

In addition to service at sea, Rear-Admiral Kurtz has gained staff experience from Desk Officer up to Director General level – on the coast, with the Naval Staff, and at National Defence Headquarters, in the areas of operations, personnel, and security. Rear-Admiral Kurtz was Commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), the Alliance fleet in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region, from June until December 2019, Commander of Cadets and Junior Canadian Rangers in 2020-21, and Commandant and Vice-Chancellor of Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) Kingston from 2021 until 2023. She was appointed Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic and Joint Task Force Atlantic on 20 June 2023. Rear-Admiral Kurtz holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ottawa (2005) and a Masters in Defence Studies from RMC Kingston (2007). She is a graduate of the National Security Programme (2013) at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto.

Rear-Admiral Kurtz dedicates her free time to family activities. She enjoys photography and watching the Toronto Blue Jays.