In almost a decade of serving as the chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International, Jonathan T.M. Reckford continues to bring to his role a passion for service along with the vision and leadership needed to guide a global nonprofit organization in a rapidly changing world.
Since 2005, Habitat has grown from serving 25,000 families each year to serving over 300,000 families annually in the U.S. and more than 70 countries.
After graduating from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Reckford spent a number of years in the for-profit sector, including executive and managerial positions at Goldman Sachs, Marriott, the Walt Disney Co., and Best Buy.
He began his career on Wall Street, and in 1987, he was awarded the Henry Luce Scholarship, which provided the opportunity to live and work for a year in Asia. He worked in marketing for the Olympic Organizing Committee, preparing for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. Having been a competitive rower, he was asked to coach the Korean national rowing team. At the conclusion of his Olympic duties, and following an eye-opening, three-month journey through Southeast Asia, Reckford returned to the United States and began work on his MBA degree.
While he was acquiring the skills needed to succeed in the business world, a professor’s words struck home with him: “The same skills that will make you a success in the for-profit world also are desperately needed in the not-for-profit world.”
Always active in his local faith community, Reckford found an avocation helping to coach pastors in dealing with the management side of church life. Eventually, that volunteer service turned into full-time ministry as executive pastor of a 4,300-member church in Edina, Minn. While serving that congregation, he received a call in 2005 asking him to consider the leadership position at Habitat.
“Looking back on my career, I can see how all the events fit together and prepared me for this job,” Reckford says. “I learned important lessons during each step along the way.
“This is a very exciting time for Habitat, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve with so many dedicated people around the world. Since our founding in 1976, Habitat has helped more than 5 million people have a new or improved place to live. It is incredible to see how simple, decent and stable housing can provide a pathway out of poverty. As we look ahead, we believe we can increase our impact and help exponentially more people as we engage more supporters in our mission to build homes, communities and hope.”
Reckford serves on the boards of InterAction, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the Duke Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Urban Steering Committee for the World Economic Forum.
The author of a book titled “Creating a Habitat for Humanity: No Hands but Yours,” he and his wife, Ashley, have three children and live in Atlanta.