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Habitat for Humanity International’s Board greets new faces, countries

Habitat International’s board greets new faces, new building places

AMERICUS, Ga., Dec. 1, 2003 – At a recent meeting in New Zealand, Habitat for Humanity International’s Board of Directors welcomed four new faces, bid farewell to five committed and friendly faces and expanded home-building programs into three new places.

The board of the world’s largest non-profit homebuilder added Suriname, Tajikistan and Rwanda to the list of 89 nations where Habitat is now building, and welcomed new members W. Roger Haughton, Tony Lanigan, Kathleen Bader and Richard Roberts. The board elected new officers as well.

Haughton is chair of the board and chief executive officer of The PMI Group Inc. and its subsidiary, PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. Lanigan is a project and technology consultant in Auckland, New Zealand. Bader is business group president for Dow Chemical Co., and Roberts is managing director of Goldman, Sachs & Co., in New York.

New board officers are Rey Ramsey, Washington, D.C., chair; Nic Retsinas, Providence, R.I., co-vice chair; Jim Copeland, Washington, D.C., co-vice chair; Chantal Hudicourt-Ewald, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, secretary; and Chuck Thiemann, Cincinnati, treasurer.

Ramsey is CEO of One Economy Corp., a nonprofit organization using technology to help low-income individuals build assets and raise their standard of living. Retsinas is director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies, a collaborative venture of the Harvard Design School and the Kennedy School. Copeland is with Copeland, Lowery & Jacquez, a government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Hudicourt-Ewald is an attorney in Port-au-Prince, and Thiemann is president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati.

Directors retiring from service to Habitat for Humanity International’s board are Paul Leonard, Mooresville, N.C.; Lyle Hanna, Lexington, Ky.; Jim Irvine, Portland, Ore.; Sybout Vandermeer, The Netherlands; and Ian Hay, Auckland, New Zealand.

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.

New countries:

Suriname: The Republic of Suriname, the former Dutch Guyana, has a large territory in the northern tip of the Southern Hemisphere of Latin America. With fewer than 450,000 people, it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Many families live in poverty, and the national economic situation has worsened significantly in the past 20 years. In the capital, Paramaribo, and its surrounding area, more than five percent live below the poverty line. Housing is the single, greatest need in Suriname today according to the government and news media.

Tajikistan: The country’s economy has had difficulty recovering from the loss of U.S.S.R. markets and subsidies. By 1998, the inflation rate had risen to 46 percent, and with the lower per capita gross domestic product among the former Soviet republics, the poverty rate continues to climb. The Civil War (1992-1997) severely damaged the already weak economic infrastructure and caused a sharp decline in industrial and agricultural production. Eighty percent of the people in Tajikistan continue to live in abject poverty.

Rwanda: In 1962, Rwanda gained independence from Belgium. Ethnic rivalry between the Tutsis and Hutus in the 1994 genocide crippled the fragile economic base, killed 800,000 and displaced two million. Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa, and providing basic needs of the people remains one of its greatest challenges. President Maj. Gen. Paul Kagame, elected in 2003, hopes for economic development in tourism, tea, coffee and information technology.

New board members:

Haughton is a veteran of Habitat for Humanity, having worked on at least 17 builds since 1994. A graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, Haughton holds a B.A. in economics and comes from a background of volunteerism, serving on the board of Social Compact, a Washington, D.C., organization dedicated to promoting revitalization of America’s inner cities. He recently joined the board of the National Council of La Raza, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing poverty and discrimination, and improving life opportunities for Hispanic Americans. He and his wife, Judy, live in Alamo, Calif., and have four children.

Lanigan is a civil engineer with extensive engineering and construction project management experience. Formerly the first chancellor of the Auckland University of Technology, he is a co-founder of Habitat for Humanity New Zealand and helped establish Habitat for Humanity in Indonesia.

Bader, the second woman hired when Dow began including women in its commercial ranks in 1973, is the architect for and helps oversee Dow’s significant partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Throughout her career, she has held numerous jobs in sales, marketing, operations and business management in Dow’s global and North American operations.

Outside Dow, Bader is a member of the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory Council, sits on the Dean’s Council at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and participates in annual builds throughout the United States and abroad. She earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Saint Mary’s College/Notre Dame, and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of California at Berkeley.

Roberts is chair of New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., the nation’s largest public hospital system, and served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the nation’s largest combined municipal affordable housing and community development agency. He also served as an assistant to Mayor Rudy Guiliani, and in numerous other public and private enterprises. Educated at Yale University, he received a bachelor of arts and Juris Doctor degrees. Roberts participates in many civic, community and international affairs activities. Roberts and his wife, Janice, live in Manhattan and have two children, Annie and Taylor.

Habitat for Humanity International is a Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in more than 3,000 communities in 92 nations have built and sold more than 150,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages. For more information about Habitat for Humanity International, please visit the web site at