Benjamin Gianni

Benjamin Gianni teaches courses on housing and urban history. He leads the housing studio in the 4th year of the BAS program and coordinates the school’s urbanism major. His research interests focus on housing and urban development. In particular, Public housing constructed in the decades following the Second World War in Europe and North America, and its redevelopment from the 1990s onward; Urbanization, suburbanization ,and the study of large-scale housing ensembles in contemporary China, questioning the legacy of modernism and its transposition to different cultural and temporal contexts; Redevelopment of informal settlements in China, India, and Africa, using design as a form of research to explore adaptable, culturally resonant, and market-friendly approaches to redevelopment. Gianni is currently finishing a book on pre-Second World War suburbanization in Pittsburgh, PA. He is a former director of both the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism and the School of Information Technology at Carleton University.

Ioana Teodorescu

Ioana Teodorescu is an architectural historian, teacher and artist whose interests and expertise span surprisingly varied fields. She has trained as an architect in her native Bucharest, and holds graduate degrees from Universities of Cambridge (MPhil 1998) and McGill (PhD 2013). Her specialties are Canadian postwar housing and Byzantine iconography. Throughout her career, Dr Teodorescu has contributed research for national exhibitions in federal museums in Ottawa, and she has taught in Canada, England and Romania. Her courses covered architectural history, psychology of the built environment, research methods, technical drawing and perspective, graphic presentation, with studios in housing and hospitality interior design. In 2012, her doctoral thesis was awarded the UQAM “Phyllis Lambert Prize” for best dissertation in Canadian architectural history. She was interviewed by CBC radio and the Ottawa Citizen on her research which focused on the changes in Canadian house design since WWII, as shown in architect-designed plans published in CMHC catalogues during 1950-70s and built as such, or adapted, by builders and homeowners across the country. Dr Teodorescu argues these houses form a valuable architectural mass as they are the expression of a mix of intentional and spontaneous strategies which helped develop, as well as still influence, the current Canadian society. 

Stephen Willis

Stephen Willis joined Stantec in August 2022 as the Discipline Lead for Planning in Canada.  Steve is a Registered Professional Planner and a Professional Land Economist with over 30 years professional experience in consulting and in the various public sector roles. He specializes in building consensus for complex projects involving approvals from multiple agencies. Over the course of his career, he has specialized in the planning and redevelopment of lands for public agencies. Steve recently completed a role as General Manager of Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development for the City of Ottawa.  As the organization’s chief Planner, he oversaw policy planning, transportation planning, environmental planning and development approvals.  He led the completion of a new Official Plan, which involved significant effort in growth management decisions.  Steve was previously also responsible for the Infrastructure Services group which was responsible for design and construction of municipal projects, asset management and infrastructure planning.  He has many years’ experience presenting land use and infrastructure issues to the public and he has extensive experience appearing before Councils.

Carla Staresina

Carla joined CMHC in 1998 and worked in a variety of roles in both CMHC’s Prairies and Atlantic offices. In 2013, she moved to Ottawa to take on the role of Director of Community Development and was appointed Vice-President Affordable Housing in January 2015.  Carla also took on the role of Diversity and Inclusion Champion for CMHC in 2016. In 2019, Carla moved to her current role VP, Risk Management, Strategy and Products. Carla has a vast breadth of knowledge on the housing industry across all housing types and all segments of the Canadian landscape. She is truly grateful for a career where she has the opportunity to make a difference in helping Canadians meet their housing needs.

Pallavi Swaranjali

Dr. Pallavi Swaranjali is a full-time faculty in the Bachelor of Interior Design Program, Algonquin College, Ottawa. She has a B.A. in Architecture, M.Design in Industrial Design from India, and a PhD in Architecture from the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, Carleton University, Ottawa. She is presently an intern architect with the Ontario Association of Architects, Canada. Her research centers on the relationship between architecture and storytelling, looking at non-conventional modes of architectural representation that combine the normative and the fantastical, and the ways in which they meaningfully transform architectural making and experience. Her areas of teaching include residential and corporate studio, senior project, foundations of design as well as the history and theory of design. She is a coordinator of Carleton Research | Practice of Teaching | Collaborative ( and one of the founder members of Canadian Centre for Mindful Habitats (

Evan Garfinkel

Evan Garfinkel is the Manager, Land Development at Regional Group, Greater Ottawa Metropolitan Area. 

Gord Lorimer

Since his graduation from Carleton University’s School of Architecture, Mr. Lorimer has participated in a variety of community-focused developments including non-profit housing, churches and outreach centres.  An active participant in the development of office design philosophy, Mr. Lorimer has applied these principles to a range of projects, both institutional and residential. Mr. Lorimer continues to be involved in a variety of mixed-use and residential projects including urban masterplans, multi-storey condominium developments and various renovation and adaptive reuse projects. His professional accomplishments include participation as Project Architect in numerous award-winning urban design and residential projects.

Chris van Popta

Chris is the founding partner and Creative Director of Fineline Perspectives, an end-to-end marketing and communications agency for multifamily developers and operators. He believes that to optimize multifamily occupancy (whether during initial lease-up or when stabilized), your marketing platform must be able to predictably generate and control the flow of qualified customers to your apartments and also allow prospects to tour them from anywhere. Chris’s ability to think creatively combined with his highly technical experience in the world of multifamily marketing has been the driving force behind the marketing platforms that have leased up and continue to operate the properties involved in Canada’s largest multifamily real estate transactions. 

Dan Dixon

Dan Dixon is Senior Vice President, Project Finance and Investor Relations for the Minto Group of Companies. Dan has over 25 years of operating, management and investment experience in the real estate industry and is responsible for the development and execution of Minto’s debt financing strategy for all of its business activities in Canada and the United States. Dan also leads the investor relations function for Minto Apartment REIT, a real estate investment trust traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Dan is a member of the Investment Committee at the Ottawa Community Foundation and is Chair of the Programming Committee for the Ottawa Chapter of the Urban Land Institute. Dan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics degree from Queen’s University and Masters of Business Administration degree from York University. 

Saide Sayah

Saide Sayah is a Principal in Fotenn’s Ottawa office with over 20 years of experience in development and community planning, including over a decade of management experience working with multiple sectors in government and both private and not for profit sectors.  Saide has held various roles including Director of Housing Services for the City of Ottawa and has extensive experience developing, coordinating, and implementing affordable and supportive housing projects and programs.

Mushtaq Kazani 

Mushtaq Kazani is Chief Executive Officer at Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa. He has 20+ years of Businesses Administration / Non-profit organization Management experience nationally and internationally. His consistent success at turning around the organizations is a combination of his ability to lead from vision development, strategy formulation to impeccable implementation. Problem solving and creativity in business is his forte. He is a C-Level executive with skill-sets of Strategy development, Financial Management, Strategic Marketing, and Leadership. He has multi potentiality in Business, Non-profit organizations and Education Management settings. During his current role at ITREB Pakistan, he has developed quality programs to satisfy the constituency needs, streamlined HR to make it lean (35% reduction), highly engaged and productive (four-fold increase in programs per employee) workforce and developed efficient monitoring system using the best practices including the World Bank Guidelines. In his International exposure at Akamba Kenya, he is accredited for the financial turnaround in 6 months and converting the loss-making situation to awards of ‘Distinguished Tax Payer’, ‘Best Transportation and Courier Company’ by the Authorities. In his earlier role at the Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), a part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), as CFO for Kampala Pharmaceuticals, Finance Controller for Uganda Fishnet and Group Financial Controller for IPS Zaire SARL, he was successful in relationship building with financial Institutions and suppliers, Improving working capital, and heading Production Planning Committee, 3x increase in sales revenue and increased market share. He also served with PwC as Audit Manager between 1991 to 1993. Mushtaq is a keen social worker and has served various Institutions within and outside community and Ministries in the countries he worked. He speaks on topics for Youth development, Leadership and Lifelong Learning. He believes in Life Long Learning and contributing to society and follows advice from Jack Welch, Robin Sharma, Stephen Covey, and Benjamin Hardy. 

Gregory Banfield

As Director of Mortgages & Program Delivery, Home Ownership Alternatives (HOA),  Gregory Banfield, has the primary responsibility for the origination of “extra help” mortgages for home buyers, mortgage risk management, reporting to regulatory agencies and to HOA’s funding partners, communications with mortgagors, and the administration of HOA’s growing portfolio of Alternative Mortgages. As a mortgage professional, Gregory possesses many years’ experience in mortgage origination, sales and marketing, staff development, and the administration of mortgage portfolios. As a bonus, Gregory also has solid financial industry experience, making him well suited to assist with the financial analysis and decision-making processes essential to creating and managing diverse partnerships with builders, development consultants, and varied sources of funding.

Gregory is a licensed mortgage professional and holds a Certificate in Financial Planning. Gregory has an MBA in Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship and an undergraduate degree in Economics.

Jennifer Tsao

Jennifer Tsao is a Senior Specialist in CMHC’s Housing Finance Policy team. She launched her career at CMHC in 2017 in Market Insights, where she published forecasts, authored research, and provided commentary on local market trends. She first became interested in housing while working as a co-op Research Associate at Royal LePage’s corporate head office. Jennifer holds a MA in Economics from Queen’s University. 

Joe Berridge

Joe Berridge is an urban planner and city builder who has had an integral role in the development of complex urban planning and regeneration projects in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Europe and Asia. He has been strategic advisor for the development of the city centres of Manchester, Belfast and Cardiff and for the waterfronts of Toronto, Singapore, Sydney, Cork, London and Governors Island in New York City. He has prepared campus master plans for the University of Manchester and Waterloo, Queen’s and Western in Canada and is now planning the new hub for Toronto Pearson International Airport. Joe teaches at the University of Toronto and is a Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. 

Ross Farris

Ross has been advising municipalities, institutions and private developers at both the building and community scale across North America for the last 10 years. He brings a multifaceted perspective with sustainability consulting, mechanical and energy engineering, architectural and construction experience. Ross works with clients and project teams to integrate all aspects of the development from every project onset to ensure issues are identified early, and holistic solutions are derived to mitigate cost and schedule impacts. “My goal is to drive down every project’s environmental footprint while creating a built environment that better serves the whole community – in a cost effective and timely manner.” Ross holds a Master of Architecture degree and a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering degree with an emphasis in Building Environmental Systems, both from the University of Kansas. He is a registered mechanical engineer in the State of California and an ASHRAE Certified Building Energy Modeling Professional.

Rodney Wilts

As comfortable in a canoe as in a boardroom, Rodney has dedicated his career to leveraging market solutions to enhancing health, wellness and sustainability. Rodney started his career as an environmental lawyer, founded Canada’s first green building supply centre, and led the master planning of Zibi (an endorsed One Planet Community). When not crafting compelling visions for highly innovative mixed-use developments, Rodney can be found with his wife, daughter and dog paddling wilderness rivers in Quebec or skiing backcountry routes in fresh powder. 

Vikram Bhatt

Vikram Bhatt, MRAIC, is a Professor of Architecture, McGill University, where he teaches courses in urban design and housing. Born and raised in India, Bhatt graduated from the prestigious Ahmedabad School of Architecture, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT University) in 1973. During and after completing his professional studies he worked for the renowned architect Balkrishna Doshi. He obtained his Masters of Architecture from McGill University in 1975. Following his graduation, he joined the research team of the Minimum Cost Housing Group (MCHG, then under the direction of Professor Witold Rybczynski), an educational and research unit of the McGill University School of Architecture. After, briefly from 1977-78, working for the International Development Research Centre he rejoined the School of Architecture at McGill, where since 1988, he has also led the MCHG activities focusing attention on the shelter problems of poor. He has done extensive research in the field of human settlements planning, urban design, housing and urban agriculture. More specifically, his human settlements research deals with the issue of where and how people live interactively via the creative engagement of designers in the process. Currently, he is working on the question of food security and urban sustainability both in North America and abroad, particularly in informal housing in developing countries. The series of his action-design projects related to the “Edible Landscapes” assimilate urban agriculture (UA) in cities, neighbourhoods and communities, which requires including, or better still sustainably integrating, food systems within urban structures and urban designs.