Board of Directors

Cherie Somerville
Board 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 since 2015. 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.

Sue Ramsay
Vice Chair
Job Title: General Manager, Hamilton-Halton Construction Association
Sue Ramsay is the General Manager of the Hamilton Halton Construction Association (HHCA), a not-for-profit organization that serves the needs of non-residential construction employers in the Hamilton and Burlington area.  Prior to joining the HHCA, Sue spent more than eight years with the Council of Ontario Construction Associations serving as Manager of Operations & Communications. Sue holds a BA in Communications from Brock University and a Post Graduate Certificate in Public Relations from Humber College.

Ken Lancaster
Treasurer & Secretary
Job Title: Associate Wealth Advisor, RBC Dominion Securities
Biography: As an Associate Wealth Advisor with RBC Dominion Securities, Ken Lancaster provides access to a comprehensive range of services to help you build and protect your wealth. Ken is a graduate of McMaster University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree and a Master of Business Administration degree. He is also a Chartered Professional Accountant, and has completed the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Canada’s In-Depth Tax Course. A firm believer in ongoing education, Ken recently obtained the Family Enterprise Advisor (FEA) designation. Ken’s experience spans over 25 years in public accounting, most recently as a tax partner with a national accounting and business advisory firm. He specializes in building all-encompassing strategies and solutions for business owners and high-net-worth individuals. Ken enjoys collaborating with clients’ other professional advisors to deliver comprehensive, integrated wealth management and financial solutions. Ken’s breadth of experience, expertise and credentials help ensure sound advice, expert execution and peace of mind for clients who require solutions suited to broad and complex wealth management needs. Ken lives in Ancaster with his wife Deborah. They proudly raised three children, who are living and working in the Hamilton area. Ken and Deborah are avid golfers and also enjoy travelling. They are active members of their community and volunteer on numerous boards and committees.

Marie Verdun
Board Member
Job Title: Manager, Corporate Affairs at ArcelorMittal Dofasco
Marie is currently Manager, Corporate Affairs at ArcelorMittal Dofasco, Canada’s largest flat roll steel producer. She manages an extensive portfolio of internal and external corporate communications strategy and programs at the local and national level, including crisis communications, issues management, media relations, employee communications and marketing communications. A corporate communicator for 23 years, Marie has worked on both the agency and client sides and also spent time as a book and magazine editor. Marie is a graduate of Ryerson University (Journalism) and Western University (English).

Jennifer Isaacs
Board Member
Job Title: Realtor, Royal LePage State Realty Brokerage
Jennifer Isaacs is a licensed Realtor® with Royal LePage State Realty Brokerage. Jennifer was raised in Hamilton and has an intimate knowledge of the city’s real estate market across all price points and its continuous transformation. She also guides international clients with relocation needs as well as real estate acquisitions and portfolios. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Gerontology and Sociology from McMaster University and has previous experience in research, public relations, marketing and business development. She’s also an active member on several various associations and real estate boards, including the REALTORS® Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB), Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) and the McMaster Alumni Association.

Chrissy Walker
Board Member
Job Title: Account Manager, Genworth Canada
Biography: Chrissy has over 25 years of experience in the finance sector, specializing in mortgages and client services. She previously held positions including Mortgage Specialist and Mortgage Broker before becoming an Account Manager with Genworth Canada, where she provides lending institutions with the highest level of service. Having attained a Personal Financial Planning Designation, Chrissy understands the importance of financial security, which is one of the many reasons why she volunteers with Habitat for Humanity Hamilton. She has had the fortunate opportunity of participating in multiple build days and also volunteers her time in support of Genworth Canada’s “Meaning of Home” contest, raising thousands of dollars in support of Habitat for Humanity, each year.

Seif El-Sahly
Board Member
Job Title: Owner & Director, Newfore Inc.
Biography: Seif is the Owner and Director of Newfore Inc., a general contracting company servicing the Hamilton region with both commercial and residential projects. He is a Professional Engineer (P.Eng) with Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) and holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from McMaster University. For two years, he’s been an active supporter of Canstruction Toronto, an international annual design and build competition that raises awareness about the growing hunger gap. Together with Canstruction Toronto, he’s collected and donated non perishable food items in direct support of the Daily Bread Foodbank. As an active real estate investor—renovating residential units and providing quality rental properties throughout the city—Seif understands the importance of decent, safe and affordable housing, which is why he’s also an active volunteer with Habitat Hamilton. He spends his spare time leading an active lifestyle, with the strong belief that staying active is the best way to keep a clear and focused mind.

Stephen Gagne
Board Member
Job Title: Senior Project Manager, City of Hamilton
Biography: Stephen is a Senior Project Manager in the Transportation Operations & Maintenance division of Public Works at the City of Hamilton. He is currently working in a continuous improvement role and recently obtained his Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. He previously spent five years in the Engineering Services division working as a Designer. Stephen grew up in Brampton, Ontario and lived there until moving to Hamilton to pursue his education. He holds two undergraduate degrees from McMaster University: an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree and a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree. He is a Professional Engineer (P. Eng) with Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO). Stephen enjoys an active lifestyle and can be found walking or running along the trails in Hamilton in his spare time. His other hobbies include photography, travel, and ultimate Frisbee. Stephen also volunteers with YMCA as a Newcomer Mentor and previously volunteered as a Big Brother.

Kevin Whyte
Board Member
Job Title: Director of Government Relations, Sutherland Corp.
Biography: Kevin is the Director of Government Relations at Sutherland Corp, a GTA-based Government Relations and Strategic Communications firm. In this role, he helps clients of all industry backgrounds achieve their government and communication goals. A life-long Hamilton resident, Kevin started his career working for Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga in ReStore procurement and government relations roles. Kevin holds a B.A. (hons.) in business communications from Brock University, which included a one year exchange program to the University of Tampere in Finland, a Master’s degree in international politics and security from the University of Dundee in Scotland, and is working towards his MBA at McMaster University.

Jeff Martin
Board Member
Job Title: CFO & Co-Founder, Cocoflo Innovations
Biography: Jeff is the CFO & Co-Founder of Cocoflo Innovations Inc. – a fast growing Canadian tech company at the forefront of the SMART CITY movement. Jeff also serves as the Managing Director of Mosaic Growth Partners – a growth consultancy focused on capital generation and value creation. Jeff is a builder that intrinsically understands how to position companies for maximum scalability. His extensive background in Private Equity, Capital Markets (Debt and Equity), and Start-up spans various industries including SaaS, infrastructure, telecommunications, hospitality, and construction. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) and an MBA from Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is very active in the music and arts communities and enjoys spending time playing tennis.

John Ariens
Board Member
Job Title: Associate Director & Planning Practice Lead, IBI Group
Biography: John is the Associate Director and Planning Practice Lead at IBI Group’s Hamilton office, representing the interests of development clients, both public and private, through the planning and development process for the Hamilton region. John’s corporate philosophy embodies the message of “treating others as you want to be treated: with respect and fairness”. He holds a Diploma from Mohawk College in Community Planning as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo. He’s passionate about affordable housing and heritage preservation, dedicating years of volunteer support to Habitat for Humanity Hamilton and various heritage restoration projects.

Alana Crugnale
Board Member
Job Title: Partner, Mackesy Smye LLP.
Biography: Alana is a partner at Mackesy Smye LLP. Her practice concentrates on personal injury litigation resulting from motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls and long term disability claims. Alana is a member of the Hamilton Law Association, the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association and the Canadian Bar Association. She received her Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from McMaster University in 2006 and her LLB from the University of Ottawa in 2009. She was called to the Ontario bar in 2010. She is an active participant in seminars and events sponsored by the Hamilton Law Association and cares deeply about access to affordable housing.