Board of Directors

Ross Cantwell, President

As a real estate consultant, property manager, and developer, Mr. Cantwell has over 30 years of experience in the real estate industry.  In addition to his work advising private property owners and various levels of government, Ross has used his knowledge as a real estate advisor to build a modest real estate portfolio.  Since 2000, he has acquired and renovated 250 apartment units and a 13,000 SF heritage office building.  Mr. Cantwell was part of the development team for the 76 unit Brickyard Condominiums and the VÉLO Apartments, a 183 unit energy efficient mixed-use building in Halifax’s North End.

Ross’s interest in affordable housing began in the late 1980s when he worked as a San Francisco-based nonprofit housing developer’s project manager.  As a real estate consultant, in 2004, he co-authored an Affordable Housing Policy for the Halifax Regional Municipality, which became a background report for H.R.M.’s first regional plan.  One insight identified in the report was the opportunity for a local nonprofit housing group that could build and manage a large portfolio of affordable apartment units.  In 2009 Ross helped establish The Housing Trust of Nova Scotia; he has been the  President since its inception.

Mr. Cantwell has a significant amount of nonprofit board experience, including past roles with the Owner Builder Centre (Berkeley, CA), the Nova Scotia Nature Trust (he was co-founder and its first President), business improvement districts (Downtown Halifax B.I.D. and the North End Business Association), Pharmasave Atlantic, and the Board of Governors of N.S.C.A.D. University.  Ross is a former Certified Public Accountant and has a Master’s degree in real estate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.).

Dan Goodspeed, B.Sc., B.E.D.S., B.Arch., F.R.A.I.C., M.N.S.A.A., M.A.A.P.E.I., M.A.A.N.B., M.C.S.C.

Dan Goodspeed is a founding partner of Kassner/Goodspeed Architects (K.G.A.). Over the last four decades, he has had extensive experience leading multi-discipline design teams through a successful design process. K.G.A. has received numerous awards and citations for its work in Atlantic Canada, repeatedly demonstrating its ability to envision strong design solutions for complex project constraints and integrate green design.  Dan has also contributed to bylaw design in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Dan has designed and overseen over 50 major high-rise residential projects. Other projects range from single-family homes to low and mid-rise mixed-use residential to institutional. The Grainery, Doyle Block, The Brickyard, The Paramount and the Gladstone neighbourhoods are Halifax examples of his and his firm’s work.

Dan has played an active role in his profession’s governing bodies. He served on the Nova Scotia Association of Architects (N.S.A.A.) Complaints Committee and was also a founding board member of the N.S.A.A. Legacy Society, formed to promote and support the art, science and practice of Architecture by providing scholarships for architectural education.  Dan has represented his profession on many committees, including the Halifax Heritage Advisory Committee, and has been active with Dalhousie Architecture and Planning. Originally from Truro, Nova Scotia, Dan graduated from the Architecture School of Nova Scotia Technical College (now Dalhousie) in 1979 with degrees in Environmental Studies and Architecture.

Isaac Hashem, CA: Property Management

Isaac Hashem, Portfolio Manager, Infrastructure, Nova Scotia Pension Services Corporation, is a Chartered Professional Accountant (C.P.A., CA) with experience in business strategy development and execution, financing, planning, reporting, analysis, taxation, banking, and cash management. Over his thirty-five-year career, he has worked in various industries, including institutional private markets investing, commercial real estate, embedded systems, consumer packaged goods, technology, and healthcare. Previously, Isaac was the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Southwest Properties Ltd, one of Halifax’s premier owners/operators of multifamily real estate.  He is a graduate of Acadia University. Isaac is the Housing Trust’s Treasurer.

Louie Lawen, P.Eng, Director

Louie Lawen is President & C.E.O. of Dexel Developments, the development, design and construction arm of the family-owned Lawen Group of Companies. He is also one of the co‐founders of Paramount Management, the property management arm of his family business that owns and manages 1,200 residential units and 300,000 sq ft of commercial property in Halifax and Dartmouth.

Louie has had the opportunity to develop, design, construct and manage some of Halifax’s premier signature buildings over the past 25 years, focusing on urban multi‐unit mixed-use projects. His projects have received many awards, including Geroge Residences, awarded the Investment Property Owners Association of N.S. (I.P.O.A.N.S.) Multi‐unit Development of the Year (2021).

Louie has been a committed community volunteer for many years, an active member of Saint Antonios Orthodox Church, and a former board member of Sacred Heart School, the Urban Development Institute (UDI) and I.P.O.A.N.S. Currently, Louie is a member of Y.P.O. and on the board with the Halifax Partnership. With the philosophy that good planning and design are pillars of a healthy society, Louie founded the George Lawen / Dexel Scholarship, awarded to 2nd year Dalhousie Masters Planning Students who are actively involved with the local community.

Lara Ryan

Lara has spent more than 30 years honing her strategic leadership skills.  She is an expert in stakeholder engagement and designing and implementing sustainability, E.S.G. and C.S.R. plans.  She helps clients articulate and demonstrate their social and environmental value as they navigate low carbon economy opportunities.

​Her background is in the not-for-profit sector.  Most recently, she served for 12 years as Regional Director Atlantic for the Canada Green Building Council.  In that role she advanced the adoption of green building practices in Atlantic Canada through member engagement, education and advocacy.

She is an enthusiastic and innovative leader, not-for-profit executive, and entrepreneur with exceptional interpersonal skills. Sustainability and prosperity and the intersection of these concepts with traditional business planning is a particular strength. She has well-developed skills in stakeholder engagement, marketing, financial management, fundraising, event planning and execution, organization, public speaking and strategic planning.

 Brian Tabor, Q.C.

Brian Tabor, QC, is a partner with the firm of Stewart McKelvey Lawyers.  As a commercial lawyer with extensive experience in real estate, Brian can navigate increasingly complex acquisitions and financing arrangements. He has been included in the Real Estate Law’s Best Lawyers Listing every year since 2008 and the Lexpert® rating: Property Development each year since 2010.

Brian is a published thought leader who has been active with the Canadian Bar Association, the Nova Scotia Barristers Society, and other legal associations.

As a founding Director, Brian has been the Housing Trust’s Secretary since its inception.

Glenn Umlah: Commercial Mortgage Broker

Glenn Umlah is the Senior Vice President within the Debt and Structured Finance Group C.B.R.E. in Halifax. C.B.R.E. is a global leader in real estate services. With over thirty years of experience, Glenn’s role is to provide financing solutions for borrowers on new and existing Multi-residential, Land Development, Commercial, and Industrial properties.

Before joining C.B.R.E. and after several years in senior positions with many national lenders, Glenn formed Equity Mortgage Corporation Limited (E.M.C.), a commercial mortgage brokerage firm operating throughout Atlantic Canada. Between 1990 and 2017, E.M.C. and its mortgage origination team delivered over $2.6 Billion in commercial mortgages, with $1.5 Billion in C.M.H.C. insured products, via a well-established national mortgage banking platform. Glenn has been a regular panellist for the debt session at the Atlantic Real Estate Forum and is well known across the Canadian Capital Markets.

Advisors to the Board

Matthew Newell, L.L.P., Partner Stewart McKelvey

Matthew Newell is a Housing Trust advisor and committee member, bringing a wealth of experience in commercial transactions/agreements and real estate acting for companies of all sizes, individuals, banks and real estate investment trusts.  Notable work includes Sobeys’ $5.8B acquisition of Canada Safeway’s assets and the $990M sale/leaseback transaction for Sobeys and Crombie R.E.I.T.

Matthew has also represented tenants and landlords in tenancy disputes. He is also a Board Member of the Discovery Centre.

Matt Pendlebury, Vice President, C.B.R.E.

Matthew Pendlebury, Vice President of the C.B.R.E. Debt & Structured Finance Group, based in Halifax, is a Housing Trust advisor and committee member. In this leadership role with C.B.R.E., he is responsible for client relations and delivering financing solutions for borrower clients focusing on C.M.H.C. and Conventional mortgage financing. Matthew also specializes in construction financing for all property classes.

Matthew worked throughout Atlantic Canada with a well-established mortgage banking firm before joining C.B.R.E. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce, Saint Mary’s University and a Diploma in Urban Land Economics from the University of British Columbia, Kelowna.


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