Board

 

 

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Nancy Regehr

Chair

Nancy joined the MennoHomes board in 2011 after retiring from her position as Associate Executive Director of Project Ploughshares after more than 30 years of service. 

During that time she had responsibilities for finances, fundraising, personnel, administration, and board governance.

Nancy has a certificate in nonprofit and voluntary sector management from Ryerson University in Toronto. In addition to serving as chair of MennoHomes, Nancy is currently the chair of the Grand Philharmonic Choir, treasurer of the World Federalist Movement Canada, and chair of the Centre for Security Governance.

From 1974 to 1976 Nancy and her husband Ernie were Mennonite Central Committee volunteers, living in Botswana, South Africa and Zambia where Ernie worked on a research and writing project on the role of South African churches in the struggle against apartheid. Nancy and Ernie live in Waterloo and have three children and six grandchildren.

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Chip Bender

Vice Chair

Chip joined the MennoHomes board in 2014. He is currently employed as a counsellor with Interfaith Community Counselling in New Hamburg.

He became aware of the need for affordable housing while employed by The Working Centre in a position that supported the persistently homeless population in Kitchener. Prior to joining MennoHomes, he served on the board of directors at the House of Friendship.

He has served as a pastor in two different urban Mennonite congregations (Ottawa and Waterloo) and as an addiction counselor for the House of Friendship in the Addiction Supportive Housing (ASH) program. He has also gleaned some building knowledge through two long-term stints with Mennonite Disaster Service, operating a renovation business for a number of years, and undertaking extensive renovation projects on every home he has owned.

His education includes theological studies in Winnipeg and Waterloo, where he received his MTS from Conrad Grebel University College as well as the psychotherapy program at Martin Luther University College, which led to becoming a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. He has also been trained as a coach and as a spiritual director.

Chip continues to learn valuable lessons from his wife, Wendy Janzen, and their two children with whom he shares a residence in downtown Kitchener.

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Amie McPhee

Treasurer

Amie joined the MennoHomes board in 2014. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a 2002 graduate of the University of Waterloo with a Masters of Accounting degree. 

Amie is the Sr. Director, Corporate Finance at Mennonite Economic Development Associates in Waterloo. She has been working with MEDA since 2004, starting as Assistant Controller. Amie enjoys getting involved in local community events and sports organizations. Amie, her husband Chris, and their two children live in Wellesley.

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John Oudyk

Secretary

John believes the research—the single most important factor in reducing the impact of poverty is affordable, stable housing. He wants to be a part of that process in Waterloo Region. 

John joined the MennoHomes Board in 2017. In 2016, John sold his business entering into early retirement which, provided time and energy for more volunteer activities such as joining the MennoHomes board.

John has extensive experience at the Board level: 10 years on the Better Business Bureau, 3 years on the Condominium board where he lives in Kitchener, 6 years on the executive of a trade association and 3 years with the leadership team at his local church.

These board positions, business experience, and life lessons have taught John that goals are achieved best through partnerships when like-minded people and organizations come together and join forces.

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Jennifer Justason

Director

Jennifer joined the MennoHomes board in January 2021. She recently joined Gore Mutual Insurance as Manager, Financial Reporting. 

She had previously been with Cowan Insurance for 14 years where her last role was VP Finance. Jennifer has an Honours Bachelor Business Administration degree and is a Chartered Professional Accountant. Her interest in serving on the board of MennoHomes grew out of broader concern for issues related to social justice. She had been keenly following updates from MennoHomes related to new projects and saw the board opportunity as a chance to contribute and be more directly involved.

Jennifer believes that access to secure and affordable housing is a key factor in determining physical and mental health and is a fundamental right for everyone in our community. She believes that “everyone’s life story begins at home”.

Jennifer and her family live in Waterloo. She is also actively involved in fundraising for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Out of the Cold, and volunteers as a ski instructor for the Waterloo Region Track 3 Ski program for disabled youth.

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Steven Reesor Rempel

Director

Steven joined the MennoHomes board in 2014. He works as the Business & Operations Administrator at Shalom Counselling Services in Waterloo. 

After working with Mennonite Central Committee in Bangladesh for 1 year, and with the Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support in Kitchener for 5 years, he returned to school for his Masters of Business Administration, graduating in 2014.

As an avid soccer player, Steven captains the “Mennos in Black” soccer team. Steven and his wife Jessica live in downtown Kitchener.

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Saleh Saleh

Director

Saleh joined the board in January 2021. He is currently employed with the City of Kitchener in the position of Director of Revenue and Deputy City Treasurer and has three professional accounting designation, 

an undergraduate degree and a Master of Business Administration degree.

He currently chairs the Region of Waterloo Tax Collectors group and has also taught courses at Conestoga College for over eight years, allowing him to connect with some amazing students and help mentor them to achieve their educational and career goals.

Saleh is very interested in being part of a solution to provide more affordable housing for residents in the Region. He truly believes that providing affordable housing for all and having a diverse community where everyone’s housing needs are met is something that we should strive for. MennoHomes’ defined vision, mission and values resonated with him as they are all geared towards ensuring affordable, safe and supportive housing is provided to those who need it. Many people just need a place to call home to improve their health and quality of life. For all these reasons, joining the MennoHomes board and community appealed to him.

Saleh is a resident of Kitchener where he lives with his family, including three children. He has been a volunteer soccer coach for the Kitchener Soccer Club for many years and is very passionate about the game. He also happens to be a big fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Brian Unrau

Director

Brian joined the MennoHomes board in 2016. He is president of Vigor Clean Tech, a local renewable energy developer. 

His work experience and education reflect his wide-ranging interests and skills including a Bachelor of Environmental Design, Masters of Business Administration, as well as being a Chartered Professional Accountant. He has worked as a consultant, business owner, teacher, and in finance.

In addition to his work with Vigor Clean Tech, Brian is President of Community Energy Development Co-operative Ltd. He also serves on the board of directors of the Federation of Community Power Co-operatives.

Brian and his wife Jennifer have three young children who enjoy living in Haysville (near New Hamburg). He sees his role with MennoHomes as an opportunity to further use his skills in shaping financing/business models while integrating this with his interests in design and the built environment. Brian is excited by the opportunity to look at energy efficiency and building systems in creating both sustainable and affordable housing.

 

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Martin Buhr

President Emeritus

A Brief Overview of Martin’s Legacy

In late 2000 at the initiative of Mennonite Central Committee, a small working group was formed to explore how best to respond to the need for affordable housing in Waterloo Region. Martin Buhr had just retired after serving as the Executive Director of the House of Friendship from 1978 to 1998. He agreed to lead this new initiative along with his wife Pauline. In May 2001, the working group invited local Mennonite and Brethren in Christ pastors, together with members of their churches who were community leaders in health and social services into the discernment process to determine how best to respond. There was strong support for a collective response to the need for affordable housing.

The name MennoHomes was chosen and the decision was made on June 11, 2001 to incorporate as a not-for-profit organization and apply for charitable status. When an incorporation and registration process that often could take up to a year was accomplished by September 2001, a short three months later, Martin Buhr say, “We realized something very unusual was happening. God’s blessing was at hand.”

From the onset, the inspired leadership of Martin Buhr ensured new opportunities would be pursued and the stock of affordable housing increased. Upon Martin’s retirement in October 2013, MennoHomes had created 105 affordable rental units in Waterloo Region housing hundreds. Recognizing that residents need more than just a building, MennoHomes also provides connections to social services through Community Support Workers.

As MennoHomes moves into its second decade, the need for affordable housing still exists – but so does the will to support neighbours in need. MennoHomes continues to respond building on the work of Martin Buhr.