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New CEO Takes Helm at Habitat for Humanity International Millard Fuller to Continue as Founder President of House-building Ministry

October 12, 2004

AMERICUS, GEORGIA, 12th October 2004: Rey Ramsey, chair of the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity International, today announced a major change in the management structure of the Christian housing organization.

Millard Fuller, who founded Habitat for Humanity International in 1976, will continue in the role of founder president. He previously held the titles of president and chief executive officer. Paul Leonard will become the new CEO with responsibility for overall management of house-building ministry.

“I have been privileged to serve as the CEO of Habitat for Humanity from the very beginning,” said Fuller, “and it has brought enormous joy to my life. Now as approach my 70th birthday, it is time for a change.”

“Continuing as founder president, I will remain very engaged in the ministry as a spokes person and strategist, and will help in every other way I can to strengthen and expand the work of Habitat for Humanity throughout the USA and around the world.”

Leonard, who became managing director of the ecumenical Christian non-profit organization in June, agreed to serve as CEO while a search committee identifies and proposes a permanent successor as top executive, said Ramsey.

“The board is pleased that a man with Paul Leonard’s experience and dedication to Habitat’s mission has made himself available on an interim basis to serve as CEO of Habitat for Humanity International,” added Ramsey. 

In becoming managing director, Leonard—a retired real estate and construction industry executive, one-time pastor and long-time Habitat for Humanity volunteer—made a commitment of two years’ full-time service at Habitat’s headquarters in Americus, to help the organization plan for the future as it approaches its 30th anniversary in 2006.

“We knew that Paul’s knowledge of the building industry, his deep commitment to Habitat and his expertise in organizational development would be invaluable in helping chart Habitat’s future,” said Ramsey.

“Now, he also will serve as the bridge to the next CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. We are grateful that he is on board to help us through the transition from leadership by a gifted and visionary founder to the person who ultimately will lead us forward.”

From Fuller’s original vision of building homes with families in need of decent, affordable shelter, Habitat for Humanity now has built more than 175,000 houses and is at work in 100 countries around the world. The organization is on pace to build its 200,000th house, providing Habitat shelter for the one-millionth person in August of next year.

“Millard’s leadership has touched the hearts and mobilized the resources of corporations, foundations, community groups, individual donors and millions of volunteers to offer shelter and hope to thousands of families,” said Ramsey.  “He and his wife Linda have been integral to the vision of Habitat for Humanity, and we look forward to their continued service as Habitat ambassadors.”

“Millard decided to relinquish the position of CEO and the board is accepting his decision.”

“Our gratitude to him as founder of this organization is deep and lasting. We find ourselves now in a very positive position—having two capable leaders with complementary skills at the helm of the organization, Paul as CEO and Millard as founder president.”

David Williams, Habitat for Humanity International’s chief operating officer for the past several years, remains in that role with responsibility for day-to-day management, Ramsey added.

Ramsey said the committee that will identify potential candidates to become Habitat for Humanity International’s permanent CEO would have its first meeting soon.

President Jimmy Carter has graciously agreed to serve as honorary chair of the committee. Board members Kathleen Bader, chair, president and CEO of Cargill Dow LLC, The Dow Chemical Co., of Midland, Michigan, and Larry Prible, retired chair, president and CEO, Indianapolis Life Insurance Co., of Indianapolis, Indiana, will co-chair the committee.

The panel will also include an international group of current and former board members as well as representatives from the Habitat for Humanity affiliate community.

“With today’s actions,” said Ramsey, “everyone involved in the organization can keep their focus firmly on the future.

“With more than a billion people in the world desperately in need of decent, affordable housing, our work of building houses and hope requires all of our attention and energies—and the energies of partners around the world who share the vision of a world without shacks, a world of decent houses in decent communities in which every person can experience God’s love and can live and grow into all that God intends.”

Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Georgia, USA, is a Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. By the end of 2005, Habitat will have built its 200,000th house and more than one million people will be living in Habitat homes they helped build and are buying through no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.