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"I think what I value about being a Canadian is that Canada cares. People in this country have big hearts."
Reza Nasseri is an Alberta-based home builder who has made significant and lasting contributions to charitable and community initiatives, with a particular focus on post-secondary education, health care, the arts and programs and supports for immigrants.
Reza was born on July 16, 1945, the eldest son of Mahmoud Nasseri and Batoul Zamani. He grew up in the large central Iranian city of Esfahan where he enjoyed a relatively happy and active childhood surrounded by his five siblings and a large extended family. From a young age, Reza showed an interest in science fiction, as well as the art of building and design, and would often dream of building a space ship so that he could travel to the moon and stars. At the age of 17, Reza began working as a tour guide, showing visitors the ancient city and its wealth of classic Persian architecture. Along the way, he became captivated by stories tourists told him about their homelands. He was both inspired by the possibility of exploring new horizons and eager to leave behind the internal upheaval that had begun to emerge in Iran in the 1960’s. Reza entertained the thought of moving to various countries until he heard a businessman and a university professor from Edmonton offer enthusiastic descriptions of Alberta and its capital city. He was sold and set about immigrating to Canada.
Reza arrived in Edmonton on a cold day in December 1964 with a grand total of $75 in his pocket. The adjustment to his new home was made easier by Lou Berak and Alex Slutker, the two gentlemen he had met as tourists in Iran. The benefactors and their families helped Reza to settle in to his adopted country, find work and enroll at the University of Alberta. He threw himself into his studies and earned a Bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering. Along the way he worked at various jobs to put himself through school, compiling a resume that included experience in virtually every trade of the construction industry. During his university years, Reza also met and married Sylvia Erickson, a student from the Education faculty. He became a Canadian citizen and spent the early 1970’s working as research engineer and then as an electrical engineering instructor at NAIT. In the summers, Reza continued to work in the construction industry, enjoying the satisfaction he received from building things with his own hands.
By 1977 Reza was ready to hang up his shingle as an independent home builder with the creation of Nasseri Construction. A year later, he was able to put his other construction and teaching duties aside and focus exclusively on building his new business. As the business grew, so did Reza and Sylvia’s family. They welcomed two sons, David and Michael and daughter Shaheen. In 1982, he changed the company’s name to Landmark Homes and continued along a path that would eventually lead him to recognition as one of the province’s most successful and innovative homebuilders as well as a highly thoughtful and caring corporate citizen.
One of the hallmarks of Reza’s approach to homebuilding has been shaped by his desire to give people of all income levels the opportunity to know the pride and sense of security that comes with home ownership. Over the years he has created a number of different brands under the Landmark banner, covering a range of new home options. Along the way he also became a leading proponent of construction industry innovations to reduce the environmental impact of home building and encourage the creation of energy efficient homes. Reza emerged as a respected leader in the industry, serving on the Board of Directors of Canadian Home Builders’ Association for the Edmonton Region, the Professional Home Builders’ Institute of Alberta and the Alberta New Home Warranty Program.
Perhaps most importantly, Reza has always strived to ensure that his life’s work reflects his strong belief in giving back to the community. In 1995, Reza created the Landmark Community Care Program, which has been the source of more than $6.5 million in contributions to medical research and innovation as well as a wide range of social, education and community programs. One of his more innovative approaches to corporate citizenship is the House of Hope program, which unites homebuilders and suppliers who donate materials along with their expertise and labour so that the resulting new home can be sold with all proceeds going to support charitable organizations. Causes generously supported by Landmark include arts institutions such as the Citadel Theatre, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Victoria School Foundation of the Arts as well as social causes such as WINGS home for abused women and children, the Youth Emergency Shelter, Edmonton Calgary and Red Deer Food Banks, City Centre Church, the Terra Association for pregnant and parenting teens and relief funds for the 2003 Iranian earthquake and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Reza has also supported stronger and healthier futures for the capital city’s most vulnerable citizens as a member of City of Edmonton Affordable Housing Committee and the Committee to End Homelessness.
Reza has chosen to place a particular focus on health care and medical research causes due to the very positive experiences of a family member who needed the health care system. His desire to show his thanks and appreciation has led to significant support for the University Hospital Foundation as well as prostate cancer research and awareness. He has also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Alberta Hospital Foundation. In 2006, Reza’s desire to help those in need and give others the opportunity to succeed as he has led to a $1 million contribution to Norquest College’s Centre for Excellence in Aboriginal Education and the Centre of Excellence in Intercultural Education.
Reza Nasseri has been recognized with numerous honours to his commitment to community service. In 2007, the U of A Hospital Foundation presented him with the Audrey Greenough Award of Merit for his volunteer service and support for the advancement of health. Reza also has received the Peter Lougheed Award of Achievement for Advancement of Health Services, the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Exceptional Service Award from the Edmonton Home Builders Association.
Reza believes that service to others is the responsibility of every citizen and that our communities are only as strong, caring and vibrant as we each choose to make them. His fellow Albertans certainly couldn’t ask for a more powerful example of how to translate that important belief into action. Reza Nasseri is the best kind of corporate citizen who has gone about giving back to his city and province with a generosity, sense of integrity and quiet humility that will most certainly serve to inspire his fellow Albertans more many years to come.