Board of Directors and CEO

NVD is fortunate to have a strong board of directors with a diverse set of skills and experience. The board meets regularly to provide oversight and direction to the senior management team and often holds these meetings in either Calgary or Whitehorse. Several members have been with the board since the inception of the company including Piers McDonald, Rich Thompson and Myron Tetreault. Following are brief biographies of our board members.

Hannes Kovac

Hannes Kovac chairs the Development Committee and has been a director since 2009.  As President and CEO for OPUS Corporation, Hannes has been influencing the real estate development market in Calgary since 1997.  He has earned his reputation as an industry leader overseeing the development of over 25 million square feet of real estate and turned OPUS into a recognized service provider for the development and construction needs of third parties. He was instrumental in landmark developments such as OPUS 8 downtown, the Golder Building, Interplex Business Park, Stampede Station, Stantec Centre and Britannia Crossing.

Hannes has a passion for growth and his success is bound only by his imagination; one need only spend a few minutes with him to understand how his passion and energy motivates everyone he meets.  He has vision, creativity and drive and exudes a positive never give up attitude.
His accomplishments include being awarded the Calgary Downtown Vitality Award as well as the 2008 Leader of Tomorrow Award.  He is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) and is a board member for Northern Vision Development, Calgary Economic Development and the Calgary Film Centre.

Committed to giving back to the community, he participated in the Easter Seals Rappel Challenge, Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation Calgary Tower Rappel as well as supporting agencies such as the Inn from the Cold, Ride to Conquer Cancer; Safe Haven, The Minerva Foundation, The Alberta Cancer Foundation and Kids Cancer Care.  Championing a charity project with his former EO group (VECTRA), he helped construct a new school for street children in Guadalajara, Mexico. In addition, Hannes has a passion for sports and OPUS as a result is the main sponsor for Jason Pohl, one of Canada’s top professional Ironman athletes.

A native of Austria, he graduated with a Masters of Law from the Karl-Franzens University of Graz, Austria, before going on to do post-graduate studies in International Law at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Daryn Leas

Daryn is a citizen of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and a member of the Crow clan.

Over the past twenty-five years, Daryn has worked with most of the self-governing Yukon First Nations and acted as general counsel for the Council of Yukon First Nations. He also represents Indigenous groups and organizations in western and northern Canada.

His areas of work include constitutional, environmental and trust law with a specialization in First Nation issues. He has been involved in the negotiation and implementation of various First Nation land claim and self-government matters in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and British Columbia. He has represented First Nations and public utilities in the negotiation of impact benefit agreements and cooperation agreements relating to energy, mining, pipeline and infrastructure matters.

Daryn has worked with self-governing First Nations to establish trust structures to hold and manage their financial assets and has been appointed as the protector of seven First Nation trusts that have a collective value of more than $300 million. In general, the protector is appointed by the community to provide oversight and guidance to the trustees as they carry out their duties and responsibilities.

After completing a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) at the University of British Columbia in 1990, Daryn graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto in 1993. He has practiced as a sole-practitioner since 1996. He is also associate counsel with Boughton Law Corporation, a full-service law firm located in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he lives.

Murray Leitch

Murray Leitch arrived in the Yukon in 1980 via the Alaska ferry from Washington state to Skagway Alaska. He joined the law firm of Boylan, Preston, Kidd & O’Brien, becoming a partner one year later. Murray practiced real estate law for three years until all the mines in Yukon shut their doors and Yukon’s population dropped precipitously. This forced Murray to become a foreclosure expert, handling about 125 such files over a two-year period.

In 1985, Murray was named counsel for the Yukon Water Board, a position he served for ten years. During his tenure, an opinion he delivered to the Water Board allowed Curragh to re-open the Faro mine, which, at that time, was the fourth largest lead and zinc mine in the world. Unfortunately, in early 1994, Curragh filed, under the CCAA legislation and Murray acted for the mines creditors, spending much of his time shuttling back and forth to Toronto.  Murray takes pride in the fact that his clients received one hundred cents on the dollar, an amount unheard of in CCAA proceedings.

On December 1, 2001, Murray joined Air North, Yukon’s Airline as a Vice President. His early involvement with Air North saw him join Prime Minister Cretien’s Trade Mission to Russia and Germany. In 2002 Murray provided guidance for Air North in order to take advantage of the Yukon Small Business Investment Tax Credit (“YSBITC”) which allowed the airline to acquire two 737-200 aircraft. Since 2002, Murray has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Air North, Yukon’s Airline.

In mid-2005 Murray assisted the predecessor of NVD in its efforts to acquire the waterfront lands that ended up being the catalyst in launching NVD LP. His guidance on an option agreement to acquire these lands was the first step in the eventual formation of the current Partnership.    

Murray joined NVD’s board in April 2021.

Ian McAuley

Ian McAuley is President of Aimbridge Hospitality Canada, a division owned by Aimbridge which is the largest third-party hotel management company in North America. The Aimbridge management portfolio is extensive with more than 100,000 rooms, spanning 44 states and seven countries.

McAuley has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry in both Canada and the United States. Previously, he was the President of American Hotel Income Properties REIT LP, Canada’s largest publicly-traded hotel company with 112 hotels located throughout the United States. Prior, McAuley served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Continuum Health Care Holdings Ltd., where he led the transformation of the company by establishing new strategic direction, improving operational performance and enhancing shareholder value through a series of transactions that culminated in the final sale of the company’s assets to Welltower REIT. Additionally, McAuley was Co-founder and President of Superior Lodging Corp., one of Canada’s largest hotel developers of more than 135 limited and select-service hotel properties.

McAuley currently sits on the Hilton Owners Advisory Counsel for Hampton Inns and has served and currently serves as the director of many boards, including the Hotel Association of Canada, Airline Hotels & Resorts Ltd., Northern Vision Properties Ltd., Hallmark Properties Ltd. And Theater Calgary.

His career accolades include being a co-recipient of the Canadian Hotel Industry Entrepreneur of the Year Award and a multi-time finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Awards. McAuley received an undergraduate degree from the University of Saskatchewan, a Master of Business Administration from City University of Seattle and a specialized hospitality diploma from the Rotman Institute of Corporate Directors.

Piers McDonald

An officer of the Order of Canada, Piers is a founder of the Partnership and led the company as CEO from 2004 through 2009. Piers is past Minister of Education and Past Premier (1996-2000) of the Yukon Territory. In total he spent 18 years in the Yukon legislature, 12 as part of the governing party, and was a Minister in various portfolios including Finance, Community and Transportation Services, Government Services, Workers’ Compensation, Housing and Economic Development. He was Chairman of the 2007 Canada Winter Games, the largest event ever organized and held in Canada north of the 60th parallel. Piers is Chair of the Yukon Water Board. He has been Chairman of NVD since inception and has provided visionary guidance for the Partnership. He is a member of the Development, Audit and Governance Committees of the board.

Lori Simcox

BBA, MBA, CMC

Lori Simcox has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University and an MBA from Royal Roads University. She is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) with the Canadian Association of Management Consultants. Ms. Simcox’s graduate consulting work involved Executive Management and First Nation Administration strategic planning.

An independent consultant, Ms. Simcox has led several consulting projects for the Federal government, worked on projects for small business and works as an internal management consultant in several sectors for the Economic Development department of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation.

She currently operates SPAL General Constructors Inc as CEO, a company that manages partnerships in the construction industry, and has been a leader in Indigenous engagement, negotiating local involvement and successfully securing multi-million dollar contracts throughout British Columbia with over 30 prime industry leaders.

Ms. Simcox provided support and completed marketing contracts for Takaya Developments, a real estate development company. She sat on the technical working board for the Four Host First Nation’s Olympic Secretariat and is on Executive Board for the Indigenous Tourism Association of BC as Treasurer. Further work in community economic development involves participation on an application review committee for Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative (PICFI) for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

For the last three years, Lori has served as a Lieutenant Governor in Council appointee to the board of Royal Roads University and currently serves on the governance and nominating committee.

Ms. Simcox and her business partner, opened Unity Clothing Inc, in Whitehorse, Yukon with the goal of providing good quality choices in fashion at great prices. In 2011, they opened the store in North Vancouver, BC.

Ms. Simcox has made several presentations at leadership and economic development conferences including the National Aboriginal Business Opportunities Conference in Osoyoos BC. Adding to several interviews and articles in Western Investor, Business in Vancouver and the Vancouver Sun, and BC Business Magazine.  Ms. Simcox main focus, education and experience are in business and community economic development.  As a member of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation, Lori sits on the Board of Northern Vision Development LP on behalf of her community’s Trust.  

Rich Thompson

CEO, Director and Founder Northern Vision Development LP

Rich is well known in the Canadian advertising community, private company investment circles and in the northern Canadian real estate arena where he is CEO of NVD – a major real estate and hospitality operator in the Yukon. He holds a B.SC from the University of Toronto and an MBA from York University where he graduated with distinction. Rich founded Strokes Design Ltd. in Calgary, Alberta in 1987 and evolved it into Parallel Strategies Inc. which became western Canada’s largest independent advertising agency in the 1990s. He also co-founded Tiger Media which became one of Canada’s leading multimedia firms in the 1990s. Both were sold to Axia Netmedia in 1997, with Rich becoming President of Axia’s New Media division.

In 2000 Rich repurchased a number of assets from Axia, forming Zero Gravity Inc., and since then the company has grown steadily – now ranking as Alberta’s largest agency under the name ZGM Collaborative Marking – while winning significant recognition for its work. Rich is Chairman of ZGM.

In 2004 Rich co-founded Northern Vision Development LP, the most active real estate company in the Yukon. Serving on the board since formation, he took over as that Partnership’s CEO in March 2009. In 2011 and again in 2018 The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce named NVD Business of the Year and in 2015 NVD was named best large business in Canada’s northern Territories at the Frozen Globe Awards. NVD owns three hotels in Whitehorse, and partially owns and manages two in Dawson City and one in Mayo while also being responsible for the Yukon’s standard-setting residential and commercial development. NVD manages a comprehensive commercial and residential estate portfolio. Rich also owns and manages an extensive personal portfolio of real estate holdings in Alberta and BC.  In 2021 Rich received recognition at the Fourth Annual Arctic Indigenous Conference as Yukon Innovator of the Year for his work as Chair of the Yukon Governments Business Advisory Council on COVID responses.

In 2008 he launched Pureform Diagnostic Imaging Clinics and Medstate Developments LP, a company focused on the development of state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging clinics in Alberta. Subsequent to the sale of Medstate in November 2019, Rich continued as CEO.

Rich has a strong entrepreneurial record and is well known as a business leader in Alberta. He has acted as a director for the Institute of Canadian Advertising, the Glenbow Museum, the Alberta Ballet and the Calgary Urban Project Society. For three years he served as Canada’s representative on the International Board of the Young Presidents’ Organization ultimately fulfilling the role as the international organization’s Vice-Chair in 2008/9.  Rich has served on many boards in the Yukon and was Chairman of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce for three years. He co-chaired the Yukon Tourism Steering Committee responsible for establishing strategies for growth in the tourism sector.