Timeline: Toronto Community Housing CEOs

By Dilshad Burman

The removal of Kathy Milsom as CEO of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) marks the fourth top executive to be ousted from the organization over the last decade.

Since it’s inception in 2002, the TCHC has had a total of five different CEOs, at least three of whom were fired for reasons involving excessive spending or improper tendering of contracts.

Derek Ballantyne
CEO, 2002-2009

Considered by many as a housing genius, Derek Ballantyne had a fairly uneventful tenure as CEO of the TCHC. He was awarded the prestigious Jane Jacobs award for his work on the revitalization of the Regent Park neighbourhood. He stepped down in 2009 and moved on to serve as chief operating officer and executive vice-president of then Build Toronto – the city’s real estate agency that manages its real estate portfolio and develops city buildings and lands for municipal purposes. He was ousted from Build Toronto in 2011 after then mayor Rob Ford and brother Doug called for his removal following an auditor’s report that revealed improper spending at the TCHC during his time as CEO.

Keiko Nakamura
Interim CEO & CEO 2009-2011

Keiko Nakamura served as TCHC’s interim CEO from 2009 to 2010 and then became the permanent CEO for a year, until she was removed from the position during then mayor Rob Ford’s purge of the TCHC. In February 2011, Ford had asked her to step down after a report from then city auditor Jeffery Griffiths revealed lavish spending, sloppy procurement practices and improper tendering of contracts. While Nakamura initially refused to resign, she stepped down in March at the request of Case Ootes, the then Ford-backed interim managing director at TCHC.

Gene Jones
CEO, 2012-2014

Gene Jones served as the housing director in Detroit before taking over as CEO of TCHC in 2012 and serving until 2014. The organization’s board called his removal a “mutual decision” and he received a $200,000 severance package. However the decision came after a scathing report on TCHC from the city’s Ombudsman at the time, Fiona Crean, who called Jones’ leadership an “abject failure.” She added that Jones and other senior TCHC executives ran the organization “as though it was their own personal fiefdom,” ignoring rules governing conflicts of interest, salary raises as well as hiring, firing and promotion practices.

Greg Spearn
Interim CEO, 2014-2017

Greg Spearn took over as interim CEO after Jones stepped down and remained in the position for three years. In 2017 the TCHC board announced Spearn was leaving the corporation. There were reports he was forced out, but then board member and councillor Joe Cressy said Spearn was leaving for personal reasons and to pursue other professional opportunities.

Kathy Milsom

Kathy Milsom was named TCHC CEO in August 2017, taking over from Kevin Marshman who served as interim CEO for almost four months after Greg Spearn’s departure. She was removed from her post by the board in Feb. 2019 over a contract with management consulting company Orchango. An investigation into the matter found irregularities in the process and that Milsom had not followed the procedures, protocols and policies with regard to awarding the contract. She is set to be replaced by Kevin Marshman on April 3, 2019.

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