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Habitat reaches 100-country goal, names managing director

Habitat reaches 100-country goal, names managing director

AMERICUS, Ga., June 15, 2004 – Habitat for Humanity International’s Board of Directors announced that Habitat is expanding the number of countries it is working in from 92 to 100, and named a managing director to help continue the organization’s remarkable 28-year track record.

With the addition of Angola, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Laos, Myanmar, Macedonia, Turkey and Micronesia, Habitat will be working in more than half the countries of the world. Coinciding with this, the board named Paul Leonard, longtime volunteer and former board chair, managing director of the global nonprofit homebuilder.

Leonard, who brings experience in ministry and homebuilding to his new role, plans to “work hand in hand” with Millard Fuller and David Williams to provide day-to-day direction and management. Fuller is Habitat’s founder, CEO and president, and Williams is executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“Now that we are working in more than half the countries in the world, we grow ever closer to our ultimate goal – a world in which everyone has, at minimum, a simple, decent, affordable place to live,” says Leonard, of Davidson, N.C., a retired real estate and housing professional, who last held the position of executive vice president of Centex Real Estate Corp.

The board also confirmed that Habitat will build its 200,000th home and house its millionth person in a Habitat home by the end of 2005. The announcements follow a milestone year for Habitat, which built its 50,000th homes in both the United States and Latin America/Caribbean regions.

Other milestones include the “More Than Houses” campaign, which has raised nearly $400 million of its $500 million goal to build 100,000 more houses by the end of 2005. Habitat also strengthened partnerships with corporations and organizations worldwide. Whirlpool, for example, expanded its relationship, sponsoring the Women’s Tennis Association Tour in Europe and the Reba McEntire concert tour to raise awareness about Habitat. Lowe’s is the 2004 underwriter of Habitat’s Women Build program, which encourages and empowers women to get involved in building houses.

Habitat launched partnerships with Clear Channel Entertainment, through the “Raise the Roof!” campaign, and with Christian artists and the Gospel Music Association through “Faith Works!,” which will bring artists into the effort to help erase poverty housing from the planet.

“The view, looking backward and forward, is remarkable,” says Rey Ramsey, chair of Habitat’s international board and CEO of One Economy Corp., Washington, D.C. “We have gone places and done things few thought possible, and we are positioned for a dynamic future.”

Leonard says he is dedicated to working with Habitat leadership and building on the strong foundations of the past 28 years.

Paul Roger Leonard Jr. was born in Miami. He graduated from Davidson (N.C.) College with honors in history, earned his Bachelor of Divinity degree from the University of Chicago and graduated from Emory University, Atlanta, with a master’s in business administration.

He joined Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlotte on a pastoral internship from the University of Chicago in 1964, and in 1968 joined the Catawba Presbytery to lead a non-traditional church focusing on community action and service.

In 1971, Leonard joined a city housing program, and in 1973 joined the John Crosland Co. in Charlotte, where he leveraged federal housing programs to build low- and moderate-income housing. Centex Real Estate Corp. purchased Crosland’s homebuilding operations, and named Leonard executive vice president. He got involved with Habitat for Humanity in 1992 when his church and Centex built Habitat homes in Charlotte.

He retired from Centex in September 1995 and was elected a month later to Habitat international’s board where, between 2001 and 2003, he served as chair. Leonard and his wife, Judy Moore Leonard, have four children and eight grandchildren.

“I am so proud to again be working with leadership at Habitat,” says Leonard. “Everyone is so committed to the mission, to being good stewards of the resources entrusted to us, to building a better world through better housing.”

In 2006, Habitat will celebrate its 30th anniversary, and between now and then “we have so many wonderful things under way,” says Leonard. Among them, the 10th anniversary of Building on Faith, in partnership with churches around the world, the 2004 Jimmy Carter Work Project in Mexico in October, when thousands of volunteers will help build more than 100 homes in Puebla and Veracruz, and the June 2005 Jimmy Carter Work Project, when volunteers will build more than 200 homes across Michigan, with Benton Harbor and Detroit acting as host cities.

Fuller noted that reaching the 100-country milestone fulfilled a longtime goal.

“We wanted to be at work in 100 countries by the end of 2005,” says Fuller. “That we achieved the goal 18 months early speaks not only to the desperate need for housing around the world, but also to the tremendous outpouring of support for this ministry.”

Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., 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.