Three new board members, each with deep experience in their respective fields, have been appointed to the International Estonian Centre Inc. (IECI) board.
“The KESKUS project is delighted to welcome these new members to the IECI board,” said KESKUS Project Lead, Ellen Valter. “We are extremely grateful to be able to tap into the deep well of knowledge and expertise these individuals bring to the table."
IECI Board Chair Heili Toome agrees, saying, "We are on the threshold of creating a truly remarkable space for the Estonian community in North America and around the world, and our now nine valued board members will help us get there!” Read more about the other IECI board members here.
Retiring from the IECI board is Bob Spokowski, B. Eng., M. Eng., a 40-year veteran of the construction industry and former structural engineer and project manager with PCL Construction. All on the IECI board thank Bob for his energy and commitment to the project, and for his valuable insight as a board member.
The sole shareholder of IECI is Estonian House in Toronto Limited, which appoints directors to IECI. IECI is responsible for building the Centre and will oversee its sustainable operations.
Introducing the new IECI board members!
Peter Ojala, B.Sc., P. Eng.
Peter is Design Lead/Structural Specialist with LEA Consulting Ltd. in Toronto, and has 40 years’ experience in project management, structural design, rehabilitation engineering and construction administration of transit stations and tunnels, bridges and highways, and buildings, including complex projects including the TTC.
“Getting involved with KESKUS brings together the pride I have in my Estonian heritage and my professional career as a structural engineer working abroad and in Canada on complex projects including large Toronto Transit Commission and Metrolinx transit stations and tunnels.
The KESKUS building is a showcase and extremely interesting from a technical standpoint, both in constructing at this site andaesthetic excellence in the building design. I look forward to my now adult children (who live in the U.S.), joining me in Toronto to celebrate KESKUS opening festivities. There’s still quite a road ahead of us, but I know that KESKUS will resonate with them and with generations beyond!”
Katriina Niitsoo, B.Comm.
Katriina is Vice-President, Real Estate Markets, for the Royal Bank of Canada and has a wealth of experience in real estate project finance and income property lending, risk management, and diversified commercial credit. She has worked with private and public developers, builders, managers and investors across Canada and in parts of the U. S. as well. As part of the team responsible for RBC's real estate development and construction financing, Katriina’s wide-ranging responsibilities have included leading a team of finance professionals in the Greater Toronto Area in building and managing a portfolio of $5.5 billion in loan facilities, generating $77 million in annual revenue for the bank.
"With 16 years of banking experience with complex real estate development and construction financing, I look forward to applying that experience for the good of KESKUS, a project that has captivated my interest from its inception.
I have benefitted immensely from my Estonian heritage and from being part of the Estonian community. The various “Esto” programs and events that I’ve participated in over the years, from childhood through to adulthood, have created wonderful memories and led to everlasting friendships and a strong sense of connection to my Estonian heritage. I look forward to seeing my two young children’s connections to their Estonian heritage blossom, thanks to KESKUS and the support of the Estonian community. It is an honour for me to be joining the IECI board at this stage of the project, and to have this opportunity to give back to the community."
As Project Manager/Construction Manager for the Conservatory Group, based in Markham, Ontario, Hans has extensive experience managing major projects across the Greater Toronto Area. This includes a number of multi-million dollar, mixed-use condominium developments. His current project, Water’s Edge, is a 56- storey condominium complex on Lakeshore Blvd. West in Etobicoke that includes an adjacent five-storey commercial building.
"The KESKUS project continues to engage me, not just with the interesting complexity it has in its structure, but also helping to navigate these strange times with supply chain and labour issues. Because I am in the industry daily, I can lend what I know and experience to this project as well.
My passion for ensuring a sustainable Estonian heritage is why I do this. I won't repeat what I said for the KESKUS Volunteer Profile a few months ago, but I have a long history with the Toronto Estonian House and I am so pleased to lend my abilities so that the efforts of those who established that home for us, can be leveraged. The goal is to have a sustainable and stunning home in which we can get together and share our culture and our achievements more widely."
Get involved and help support our future
Are you interested in helping build this spectacular new home for the global Estonian community? Please join our growing list of capital campaign donors! The International Estonian Centre’s donor categories are Kalevipoja Laud for gifts over $100,000 (including naming rights for specific areas), Viru Vanemad for gifts over $10,000, and Kungla Rahvas for gifts up to $10,000. Stay tuned for the launch of the Kungla Rahvas campaign in 2021.
Donations may be made as a family gift, or in honour of an individual or family. All Canadian and U.S. donations will be issued a tax receipt.
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DIGITAL Estonian Life No. 20 - May 20, 2022