Meet The Team

Bob De Wit

Chief Executive Officer

Bob has a passion for entrepreneurship and homeownership and brings those interests to his leadership role at HAVAN. Prior to joining the association, Bob was an investor, mentor, director and consultant to growth-stage technology companies, several of which are developing new technologies for the housing industry. As a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship, Bob draws upon his executive experience in corporate development (M&A strategy and execution), corporate finance (raising equity capital) and competitive market intelligence to audiences ranging from entrepreneurial CEOs, angel investors to graduate students.

Holding degrees in marketing (BBA) and economics (MA) from Simon Fraser University, Bob is a happily married resident of South Surrey and is the proud father of one daughter. His personal interests include playing golf, recreational running and following professional sports, particularly hockey.

Wendy McNeil

Vice President of Marketing and Education

Wendy brings her passion for marketing and project management to this organization, and enjoys networking and collaborating with her team and members on the numerous award-winning events and marketing initiatives HAVAN offers.

Prior to joining HAVAN in 2001, Wendy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) from UBC and a Diploma of Technology in Marketing Management (with honours) from BCIT.

A born-and-raised in Vancouver, Wendy currently resides in Surrey with her husband and two young (and very active) sons. She loves travelling, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying all that Vancouver has to offer — from incredible eateries to the great outdoors.

Renée Auer

Senior Director of Membership & Sales

For more than 15 years, Renée and the Membership Committee have worked tenaciously to increase HAVAN’s membership and introduce new events, programs and services of value to members. She is also a Board Director for the Canadian Construction Women (CCW).

Prior to HAVAN, Renée worked at such international companies as J. Walter Thompson, Eveready and the American Marketing Association (Toronto Chapter). She also owned and operated an award-winning tourism business and consulting company in the 1990’s in Toronto.

Renée loves film noir, classic movie musicals, visiting museums and art galleries. and cooking at home. She also speaks three languages. Her natural curiosity makes her want to learn more from those around her. She is also a confident public speaker.

Mark Sakai

Director of Government Relations

Mark Sakai joined HAVAN in January of 2013, and brings a decade of experience in custom home building and seven years as a land development consultant to the role of Director of Government Relations. Mark graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Urban Land Economics) from UBC, and has also spent eleven years working in the museums and heritage field, at a National Historic Site in Steveston and a Museum and Archives in Delta.

Mark grew up in Steveston, and still resides there with his wife and two children. He spent much of the last two decades coaching youth softball and football, is a Lions’ season ticket holder, a member of the Richmond Museum Society Board, and also enjoys skiing.

Dawn Sondergaard

Senior Director, Marketing Communications

A native Vancouverite, Dawn grew up on the North Shore, earning her Marketing and Advertising Diploma from BCIT. Not one to sit still, she has lived and worked in three countries, travelling to over 30 (using at least nine different modes of transportation, including two tour buses, both of which, she admits, were mistakes.)

Described as a natural people person, Dawn is passionate about communication. She brings with her 30 years of experience in sales, marketing, advertising and public relations. Working with international media firms BBDO, News Ltd. and Jupiter Images to local strategic communication firm Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. and as a retailer owner of Kuddel Muddel Kids, Dawn proclaims it’s all about the people.

Carolyn Beale

Manager of Membership & Sales

Carolyn Beale joined HAVAN as Sales Development Coordinator in 2015. She brings her passion for outstanding customer service and care to the association, and enjoys the opportunity to connect with prospective and new members while contributing to exciting association events and initiatives.

Having previously spent 15 years living in the Fraser Valley, Carolyn recently returned to BC (from Ontario) to welcome her first grandchild into the world. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, travelling, live music, food and wine, and the adventure of exploring Vancouver’s many and varied attractions.

Vanessa Swanson

Manager of Online Education & Marketing

Vanessa is the Manager of Online Education & Marketing, and has been with HAVAN since 2015. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (with Distinction) in Communication with a Minor in Business from Simon Fraser University. She brings to the association a passion for creating beautiful visual designs and collaborating with team members on all things marketing.

Prior to joining HAVAN, Vanessa acquired event management, non-profit, and digital marketing experience working for Simon Fraser University’s Meeting & Events Services, the Surrey Christmas Bureau, and Epicentr Digital Agency. In her free time she enjoys competing in recreational volleyball leagues, sharing good food with good friends, board games, and exploring BC and beyond. She resides in Clayton Heights, a suburb of Surrey, with her husband and senior puppy.

Danielle DellaMaestra

Member Services Coordinator

Danielle DellaMaestra joined HAVAN as Member Services Coordinator in August 2018. She brings her passion for caring about people and helping them to think out of the box to find creative solutions, along with a strong background in sales, marketing, and outstanding customer service to the association.

As a seasoned professional with years of experience and strong communication, and relationship skills, she welcomes the opportunity to connect with prospective and new members while contributing to exciting association events and initiatives.

Danielle enjoys many outside interests which includes a love of all animals, especially her beautiful cat (Tango), the outdoors, nature,traveling, reading, live theatre and all music. She chooses to make beautiful White Rock, BC her home, where she is actively involved in and helping the community and humanitarian  interests.

Danielle has a Degree in Marketing Management from Capilano University and holds a dual citizenship as a native of Southern California.

Justine Nadia

Manager of Event Services

Justine re-joins the Homebuilders Association Vancouver as Manager of Event Services after taking some time off to obtain her BA in Communication & Publishing from Simon Fraser University. She has previous work experience with HAVAN as Marketing Coordinator, as a co-op student, where she led primary market research towards the creation of program that will encourage more young people into the trades. Justine has also worked for the BC Lions Football Club and SFU’s School of Communication.

Born and raised in Indonesia, Justine now calls East Vancouver home. When not in the office, you will find her listening to Anna Faris’ podcast in her car, teaching herself how to code via Youtube, catching a local soccer game, or attempting an ambitious cooking project.

Sonali headshot

Sonali Rayas

Brand Manager

Sonali is passionate about everything to do with Branding, Marketing, Advertising, Graphic Design and everything in between. In the last 10 years, she has played an active role in working with businesses and understanding their marketing needs and goals. An innovative and results-driven marketing professional who combines a strong knowledge of strategic planning and marketing, new business development, traditional and digital media, brand management and graphic design, Sonali holds a post-graduate diploma in Advertising & Marketing Communications from the United Kingdom, and a diploma in New Media Design and Web Development from BCIT.

She has been hit by wanderlust and is always on the lookout for new travel experiences with her family. During her free time, she enjoys doing art with her two daughters and cooking up a storm in her kitchen.