August 4, 2005
Background In Church & Commercial Leadership Roles
New Habitat CEO: Jonathan Reckford, a “wonderful” choice combining commercial, non-profit and pastoral experience
ATLANTA, GEORGIA, USA, 4th August 2005: Habitat for Humanity International’s board of directors today named Jonathan T.M. Reckford to serve as the global homebuilding ministry’s new chief executive officer. Reckford, a 42-year-old American, has for two years served as executive pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church of Edina, in the northern US state of Minnesota.
Before joining Christ Presbyterian, Reckford was president of stores for the Musicland division of Best Buy; senior vice president of corporate planning and communications for Circuit City; and director of strategic planning for Disney Design and Development.
“While sad about the prospect of leaving my church community in Minnesota, I feel as if God has been preparing me for the last 20 years for a time such as this. I believe passionately in Habitat’s mission and can’t think of a movement I would rather join,” said Reckford, who succeeds Paul Leonard, interim CEO. Leonard has agreed to remain involved in a supporting role to ensure a seamless leadership transition.
Rey Ramsey, board chair for Habitat for Humanity International, said the board unanimously selected Reckford based upon his track record redirecting and leading complex organizations and for his personal commitment to heed Christ’s call to serve the poor and forgotten.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who served as honorary chair of Habitat’s succession planning task force, said, “Jonathan Reckford is a wonderful choice to become Habitat for Humanity’s new chief executive officer. His background in business will help Habitat navigate the economy and business climate, and his pastoral experiences will help him shepherd Habitat’s ministry and assure it continues to share and demonstrate Jesus’ teachings worldwide.
“We all owe a great deal to Paul Leonard, who has been inspirational in his leadership of Habitat for Humanity. I am sure he will continue to share his immense compassion and commitment to Habitat, but I am delighted that Jonathan will lead Habitat forward in its mission to help bridge the housing divide between those who have everything and those who live in abject poverty.
“Rosalynn and I look forward to working with thousands of other volunteers to help assure the complete success of Habitat’s worldwide ministry under Jonathan Reckford’s leadership.”
Reckford and his wife, Ashley, who is originally from Albany, Georgia, are longtime supporters of Habitat and have worked alongside Habitat partner families in building their homes. The change is a big one, Reckford said, but is a natural next step.
“I have felt an increasing passion to serve more directly in heeding Christ’s call to serve the poor and forgotten,” he said. “My motivation is best summed up by the desire to live out the great commandment, expressed by Micah as a call to ‘act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God’ ” (Micah 6:8).
Christ Presbyterian, a 4,300-member ministry, is recognized as a pioneer in partnering with nongovernmental organizations such as World Vision and Opportunity International (where Reckford is a board member) to combat AIDS in Uganda and which supports cross-cultural missions locally and internationally. Opportunity International is a partner with Habitat on an AIDS-focused project in Africa that features house-building and micro-financing components.
“Henry Blackaby (a pioneer missionary who heads Blackaby Ministries in Georgia) suggests we should take on God-sized tasks because then it is clear to everyone who deserves the credit. It is humbling to get to serve alongside the thousands of committed Habitat associates and volunteers to bring hope and dignity, build communities and strive toward our mission to eradicate poverty housing,” Reckford said.
Reckford grew up in North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with a degree in political science. In 1984, he joined Goldman, Sachs, then was awarded the Henry Luce Foundation Scholarship for Young American Leaders. With that, he traveled to South Korea to work with the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee, working on marketing sponsorships and coaching the Korean national rowing team.
Upon his return from Korea, he graduated from Stanford University Graduate School of Business in Palo Alto, California, with a master’s in business administration focused on public and non-profit management, and joined Marriott’s corporate strategy group. In 1991, he moved Disney Design and Development, and then was named senior vice president, corporate planning and communications for Circuit City Stores, then president of stores of the Musicland Group which was subsequently acquired by Best Buy.
Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing throughout the world. For more information, visit www.habitat.org  .