John Ariens, Board Chair
Job Title: VP Senior Planner, IBI Group
Biography: An urban planner with over 40 years of planning and urban design experience, John not only holds a wealth of expertise, but also a keen interest in affordable housing. John joined the Habitat Hamilton board about 10 years ago to help the affiliate find land and develop community partnerships, in order to build more homes and help more families. John’s vision is to see Habitat Hamilton become the “go-to” affordable homeownership provider in Hamilton. When he’s not volunteering his time for Habitat Hamilton, John and his wife Victoria enjoy time at the cottage with their family and friends—and in particular—their four grandchildren.
Tom Vert, Vice Chair
Job Title: VP Manufacturing, ArcelorMittal Dofasco
Biography: Tom was appointed to the position of Vice President, Manufacturing in 2014 at ArcelorMittal Dofasco. Tom has held various leadership roles in manufacturing including General Manager, Primary Manufacturing, Steelmaking Business Unit Manager and Steelmaking Technology Coach. Tom joined ArcelorMittal Dofasco in 1989 as Refractory Engineer after beginning his career at Crane Canada in 1987. Tom holds a Master of Business Administration and a degree in Ceramics Engineering from McMaster University. As a recognized expert in refractories, Tom was awarded the Distinguished Life Member of the United International Conference on Refractories in 2011 and has recently published a textbook on refractories for steelmaking. An avid Habitat for Humanity volunteer, Tom has built homes for Habitat in Malawi, Chile, El Salvador and in Hamilton.
Secretary & Vice Chair
Job Title: Business Transformation Leader, BMO
Biography: Cherie is the Senior Project Manager at the Bank of Montreal and has been a board member with Habitat Hamilton for one year. She holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and a BSc degree with specialized honours in psychology from the University of Guelph. Cherie grew up in Millgrove (north of Waterdown) and lived there most of her life. She’s since relocated to the Hamilton downtown area, where she has resided for about 14 years. Cherie is also very active in the equestrian community and loves to spend time in her garden.
Job Title: Partner, Tax Services, Grant Thornton LLP
Biography: Working in Grant Thornton’s privately held business segment, Ken primarily works with owner-managed clients. He has significant expertise within the manufacturing and distribution sector, providing proactive tax strategies on corporate reorganizations, corporate and personal tax planning, succession and estate planning for family businesses and SR&ED tax credit claims. Ken is a two-time McMaster University alumni grad, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Sciences and an MBA, specializing in Accounting and Business Management. Ken has a wealth of community leadership experience, having volunteered as a committee member with the Estate Planner’s Council of Hamilton, The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Tax Foundation and McMaster Children’s Hospital, to name a few. Ken joined Habitat for Humanity Hamilton’s board in 2017, as Treasurer.
Past Board Chair
Job Title: Retired
Biography: Paul is a retired ArcelorMittal Dofasco employee and is the Past Board Chair of Habitat Hamilton. Beyond his volunteer commitments with the board, Paul also volunteers a lot of his spare time on Habitat Hamilton’s build sites, helping construct homes for local partner families. He’s also travelled on a Habitat Global Village trip to Portugal, where he helped build a home for a Portuguese family in need. In this free time, Paul and his wife enjoy travelling via cruise ship.
Job Title: Asst. Regional Manager, Genworth Financial
Biography: Bernice is the Assistant Area Manager for Genworth Canada and has been with Genworth for 30 years. Genworth is a strong corporate supporter of Habitat for Humanity and it was through this unique partnership that Bernice grew a better understanding and passion for Habitat Hamilton’s work. Bernice joined Habitat Hamilton’s board of directors five years ago and has been involved ever since. She’s participated on several builds in Hamilton and throughout Southeastern Ontario and she also helps organize an annual golf tournament fundraiser for Habitat Hamilton, every year.
Job Title: Broker of Record & Owner, Chase Realty Inc.
Biography: Bruce is the Broker of Record and Owner of Chase Realty Inc., crafting real estate transactions successfully for over 25 years. Bruce also gained a strengthened sense of industry knowledge through his volunteer commitments with the REALTORS® Association of Hamilton-Burlington, where he held the position of President of the Association during 2013. As a long-standing Habitat Hamilton board member and with a deep understanding of the real estate market in Hamilton, Bruce understands the challenges some families face with regards to securing homeownership. Bruce is committed to ensuring that the path to homeownership is an enjoyable process and believes that everyone deserves a safe and decent place to call home.
Catherine Buntain Jeske
Job Title: Partner at Wynne, Pringle, Jeske & Kovacs
Biography: Cathy is a partner with the law firm of Wynne, Pringle, Jeske & Kovacs and practices law primarily in the areas of real estate development, real estate transactions, estate planning and estate administration. Cathy has been providing pro-bono legal services to Habitat Hamilton since 2010 and joined the board of directors in 2013. Cathy received her undergraduate degree from McMaster University and her law degree from the University of Windsor. She lives in Burlington and is a member of the Rotary Club of Hamilton AM, the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club and the Royal Botanical Gardens. In her spare time, Cathy enjoys curling at the Burlington Golf and Country Club.
Job Title: Registered Nurse, HHS
Biography: Gabrielle is a Registered Nurse with Hamilton Health Sciences and has been a Habitat Hamilton board member for approximately three years. Gabrielle is a long-time supporter and advocate of Habitat’s Global Village Program, having led several trips abroad with groups from across Canada. In her spare time, Gabrielle enjoys spending time with friends and family.
Job Title: Fiscal Affairs Manager, Phillip Morris Int.
Biography: Vasie has over 12 years of experience working both in the public and private sectors. She spent several working in transit – first as a consultant, then an employee of GO Transit/Metrolinx and then at the Financial Services Commission of Ontario. Prior to that, she worked as a political assistant to the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, Sheila Copps. She now works as the Fiscal and Regulatory Affairs Manager for Philip Morris International in Canada. She has over 14 years of volunteer experience supporting women’s rights and affordable housing. She first began in 2002, when she joined Habitat for Humanity International as a volunteer and then as a team leader. She became a board member with Habitat Hamilton in 2016. Since 2015, she has been a board member for Hamilton’s Culture for Kids in the Arts, an organization providing high quality arts experiences to kids by removing financial barriers, becoming their Board Chair in 2016. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Ottawa, and she has a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh. She is currently in the process of completing her executive MBA from the Ivey School of Business.
Job Title: Detective in the Victims of Crime Unit, Hamilton Police Service
Biography: Myra James is in her 30th year of law enforcement services with Hamilton Police. Over the past two years, she’s been an instructor at the Ontario Police College and is currently a Detective in the Victims of Crime Unit. Other deployments include Motorcycle Officer, Breath Technician, Radar Instructor, Patrol Sergeant, Undercover Officer, Crime Stoppers Coordinator, Public Order Unit and Crime Manager. Myra sits on the Board of Directors with the International Association of Women Police and is Past President of Ontario Women In Law Enforcement. Myra was also the Chair of the Women In Law (WIL) Build committee, a fundraising initiative in support of Habitat Hamilton and an achievement she considers as one of her favourite team accomplishments. She’s also been a Rotarian for over 25 years and enjoys community engagement.