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Eric Cohen, Treasurer:
Ridgeford Charitable Foundation, Scarborough
I recently retired from the Provincial Government, where I worked as a Senior Executive in a wide range of areas, including Finance, Procurement, Project Management, Business Planning, Communications and Change Management, Policy Development and Systems Development. I led a number of different areas, including one organization with over 1,300 staff and a budget in excess of $400 million. At the time, this was the largest cost-recovery organization in the Ontario Government, meaning we had to generate revenue from our clients to cover our costs by using costing and pricing methodologies.
Prior to joining the Provincial Government, I worked as Government Relations Coordinator with the Ontario March of Dimes, where I was responsible for working with both the Federal and Provincial Governments on behalf of both the organization and the charitable health sector.
I have been on a number of volunteer Boards, including serving as Board Chair of a community service organization and a school. I was also appointed by the City to the Board of the Canadian National Exhibition Association.
With respect to non-profit housing, I have been on the Boards of two non-profit housing foundations for the past 15 years - the Ridgeford Charitable Foundation and the Brenyon Way Charitable Foundation, holding a variety of positions including Board Chair and currently Treasurer of both foundations.
The two Boards own and operate two high rise towers in north-eastern Toronto (Scarborough), which have 455 apartments, as well as 112 townhouses. Both Boards have recently exited from their Federal Operating Agreements with well-maintained buildings, strong reserve funds and excellent relationships with the City of Toronto.
Ridgeford Charitable Foundation is now nearing the end of construction of a second in-fill tower on the existing property, which will add another 186 units to the City's affordable housing complement. This has been one of the only affordable housing projects in Toronto completely financed internally, with no direct government funding provided. Working on this project from the concept phase, through design, development and construction has been a personal development experience for me, which has given me a great deal of knowledge to share with other Boards.
The Brenyon Way Charitable Foundation has recently closed on the purchase of a property on which we are planning to build two more apartment towers, providing up to 340 additional affordable housing units.
I have always been interested in the work ONPHA does. I am now able to get involved with ONPHA in a way that I can properly contribute. I know that my skills can be beneficial to ONPHA and the affordable housing sector in Ontario.
One of ONPHA's strategic priorities is making ONPHA a full-service professional association. My professional experiences in change management, system development and implementation and policy development and advocacy would be of use to ONPHA in moving forward in this area.
My experience in financial planning and financial management, as well as Treasurer of two non-profit housing foundations and developing and building new affordable housing projects will be of use as ONPHA works with government and it's members on Strategic Priority #3 - to improve financial stability and enhance opportunities for new development, redevelopment and repurposing of existing buildings.
And through my career I have developed an understanding of how government works and how policy directions can be influenced by non-government organizations that will be valuable to ONPHA.
Skill-sets and Experience:
- Business planning acumen
- Change management and modernization
- Communication and social media
- Cross-sectoral leadership
- End of Mortgage (EOM) expertise
- Financial acuity
- Government relations and advocacy
- Large Housing Provider (500+ units)
- Leadership and strategic planning
- Policy development and legal acumen
- Political acuity and connectedness
- ONPHA's Strategic Priority
I have experience in all 4 areas but emphasize: Priority 1- a full-service professional association and Priority 3 a sustainable housing system.
ONPHA can best use my skills in finance, change management, business planning and non-profit housing development.