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Habitat for Humanity International's Board Elects New Members

November 18, 2005

BANGKOK, 18th November 2005: The board of directors of Habitat for Humanity International recently elected four new members, approved a five-year strategic plan and swore in new officers to help lead the global homebuilding ministry as it continues its journey to ensure that someday, everyone everywhere has a simple, decent, healthy place to live.


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At its recent meeting in Baltimore, Maryland in the US, the following were elected to the board:

  • Elizabeth Crossman from Covington, Washington, USA, who is director of corporate contributions and president of the Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation;
  • Roberto Alonso de Ojeda Irigoyen from Guatemala, who is general manager and industrial engineer for Molinos Centia, the second largest manufacturer of wheat flour in Guatemala;
  • Kevin Kessinger from New York, USA, who chief operations and technology officer for Citigroup; and
  • Patrick H. Smith from Lexington, Kentucky, USA who is co-owner of Versa Tech Automation, an industrial automation company.

The board also approved a new five-year strategic plan for Habitat, which will enable the ministry better mobilize people, and financial and social capital, and to serve as a partner and catalyst for worldwide access to decent, safe, affordable housing.

Additionally, the board swore in new leadership: Nicolas Retsinas, Ron Terwilliger, John Stack, Paul Ekelschot and Janet Huckabee.

Retsinas, director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and a lecturer in housing studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Kennedy School of Government, succeeds Rey Ramsey as chair of the international panel. Terwilliger and Stack are vice chairs, Ekelschot is treasurer and Huckabee is secretary.

Prior to his Harvard appointment, Retsinas served as assistant secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner at the US federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development and as director of the Office of Thrift Supervision. Retsinas has been active on the board of Habitat for Humanity for nine years, serving in various capacities, the most recent as vice chair.

Retsinas is in the National Housing Hall of Fame and has lectured and written extensively on housing, community development and banking issues. He has co-edited Low-Income Homeownership: Examining the Unexamined Goal”(2002) and Building Assets, Building Credit: Creating Wealth in Low-Income Communities”(2005) and co-authored Opportunity and Progress: A Bipartisan Platform for National Housing Policy”(2004). He is a Fellow at the US National Academy for Public Administration and the Urban Land Institute.

Terwilliger, of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, is the national managing partner of Trammell Crow Residential. Stack, of Durbanville, South Africa, is a superintendent minister for the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. Ekelschot, of Zaandam, Netherlands, retired from Royal Ahold Corp., and Huckabee is the wife of the governor of the US state of Arkansas.

Of the new members and leadership, Retsinas said, “Each brings with them not only years of volunteerism and support for Habitat, but skills and abilities that will enhance Habitat’s mission. They will also help continue to nurture the relationships we have with our affiliates worldwide and open new doors of opportunity for greater things to come.

“Crossman has worked with Habitat for Humanity for 15 years, working on four Jimmy Carter Work Projects, in Kentucky, Texas and Georgia in the USA, and in Ontario, Canada. She has also been involved with the YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish counties, the United Way of King County, and she has been involved with CARE.

De Ojeda Irigoyen has worked with Habitat for several years, and has served as vice president of the national board of Guatemala since earlier this year. He has worked on numerous Habitat committees in his country and participated in several build projects. Previously, he worked as a country corporate officer for Citibank-Citigroup Guatemala, co-founder and general manager of Bimbo de Centro America in Guatemala, director of development for Ingenio Pantaleon (a sugar mill), and founder and director of CRESTA, S.A., a financial advisory group.

Kessinger has worked with Habitat for Humanity since 2002 and works with Citigroup’s employee recognition program, which enabled employees to take part in Jimmy Carter Work Projects in Mexico and Michigan in the USA. Previously, he managed consumer finance business for Citifinancial North America, was chief operating officer for Citicards and chair of Citibank South Dakota and Citibank USA.

Smith, Habitat’s national volunteer of the year in 2004, has worked with the Lexington Habitat affiliate for more than 15 years, serving on the board and as board president. He led more than eight Global Village teams to Ghana to Northern Ireland, and was a house leader at the Jimmy Carter Work Projects in 2002 and 2004.

The board provides leadership and direction in the organization’s mission to end poverty housing worldwide. Members, who receive no compensation for their voluntary service, typically serve four terms with two years in each term period.

Habitat for Humanity International is a non-denominational Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in thousands of communities around the world, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for one million people. For more details see www.hfhap.org and www.habitat.org.