Habitat for Humanity board affirms vote to terminate Millard Fuller
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (March 8, 2005) – The board of directors of Habitat for Humanity International on Tuesday unanimously affirmed the Jan. 31 vote by its executive committee to terminate the employment of founder Millard Fuller.
Board members, meeting in South Africa, went on record expressing profound gratitude for Fuller’s founding vision and years of service. But they affirmed that he would not be reinstated.
Tuesday’s vote followed weeks of criticism by Fuller and a loosely knit group of supporters who created a petition campaign for reinstatement of Fuller and his wife Linda, whose position with Habitat also was ended.
“The vote by the board demonstrates our resolve to put this matter behind us and to move confidently and faithfully ahead in the mission that unites us,” said Rey Ramsey, board chair. “No longer can we stand silently while people question our dedication to this ministry or to its Christian principles.”
Since the terminations, Fuller has said that if he is not reinstated, he would found another organization, one he maintains will support Habitat for Humanity. For CEO Paul Leonard, that move runs counter to claims Fuller has made that he doesn’t wish to harm the ministry.
“Truth is, Millard’s threats to create a new organization, to redirect support or funding from Habitat to any new organization is very harmful. Staff, volunteers, affiliates all have grown weary of Millard’s behavior and want to move on. So does this board,” said Leonard.
“The leadership of Habitat will not allow divisiveness or misinformation to deter us from the mission,” Ramsey added. “While we will be forever thankful for Millard’s founding vision, we cannot allow any individual to hinder us in our work.”
Ramsey said the vote dealing with Fuller’s employment was taken early in the board’s meeting so it could focus on its major agenda item: beginning to work on a new five-year strategic plan to guide the organization forward.
“We expect to develop a bold and visionary plan that will allow this organization to serve ever more families desperately in need of decent, affordable housing,” said Ramsey. “That work demands our undivided attention.”
Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical 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. www.habitat.org