Staff Team

The GEO Nova Scotia Staff Team is dedicated to Digital Inclusion for all Nova Scotians, achieved by delivering outstanding programs with community partners that ensure everyone has what they need to be online.

Othell Downey, Digital Inclusion Facilitator

Othell is new to the nonprofit world, joining GEO Nova Scotia following a career in customer service and Information Technology.

He always tries his best to be involved with youth in his community, working with leadership programs and after school activities like music production, mentorship, and other life skills.

Othell lives in Dartmouth with his girlfriend and their son who he loves spending time with and teaching him what it means to lead a fun and fulfilling life.

Brenda Lavandier, Digital Inclusion Facilitator

Brenda grew up in Cape Breton and has worked in the non-profit sector for over 15 years, helping people to meet their needs and achieve their goals in many capacities.

In this role with GEO, Brenda expects to continue helping people in meaningful ways that will have a positive impact in their lives and within their community.

In her downtime, Brenda can be found with family and friends, gardening, reading, or sitting on her sunny summer front step chatting with neighbors.

Salwa El Haouti, Digital Champions Lead

Salwa is a recent immigrant to Canada, coming from Morocco with a rich experience in communications and program management.

Salwa sees her opportunity at GEO as an essential piece to build a career in the philanthropy sector, especially in what has now become her new home.

Besides her work, Salwa leads an active lifestyle. She believes that great performance at work comes by having a balanced life where the body, the mind and the spirit are all nourished adequately.

Ian Scarisbrick, Systems Lead

Ian strongly believes in the importance of digital inclusion, joining GEO Nova Scotia in July following experience managing a digital literacy program in Cape Breton.

Ian came to Canada in 2008 and likes to joke that he was “brought here as a souvenir from his wife’s travels in the UK”. He spent twelve years as a project manager in the event management industry before entering the non-profit sector in 2021.

Ian lives in Guysborough with his wife, their four children, two cats, and a dog. After two years in Nova Scotia, he can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Laurel Taylor, Administrative Lead

Laurel began her career as a Computer Programmer before attaining her accreditation as a Certified Career Development Practitioner. She has held various community support roles including Provincial Team Lead of CMHA-NS Project HOPE.

She is a tireless advocate for full inclusion for all Nova Scotians and is currently the Chair of her town’s Inclusion and Accessibility Committee. Her philosophy encompasses a belief we all have multiple abilities and strengths. 

Laurel lives in the beautiful Annapolis Valley with her husband and is the proud parent of 2 adult children.

Cari Patterson, Evaluation and Learning Lead

Cari is passionate about learning, and loves sharing the journey with communities who are working for social justice.

Her thinking is largely shaped by the Big Sky of the Prairies, where she grew up, and has to return regularly to be filled by the strength of the space.

Danielle Pentland, Director of Programming and Innovation

Danielle Pentland is a social entrepreneur whose unique mix of private and community sector experiences have led her into leadership roles, creating innovative solutions to complex social challenges.

She is a strategic thinker, a relationship builder, and a creative problem-solver. Danielle is adept at leveraging these skills to create the conditions which grow resilience in people and communities.

Danielle loves living in Downtown Dartmouth where she can be found most often in the garden or walking the trails with a friend.

Matt Spurway, Executive Director

Bringing different perspectives and experiences together to tackle complex social challenges is Matt’s passion, with prior Collective Impact experience in areas such as Affordable Housing, Education, Access to Healthcare, and Food Security. 

Matt loves leading a diverse and talented team that is growing GEO Nova Scotia into a major force for digital inclusion across the province. He also sits on the Boards of the Public Good Society of Dartmouth, and the Farrell Benevolent Society.

Matt lives in Dartmouth with his wife Amy, their three children, and assorted flora and fauna.