Connie Steward, senior vice president and chief learning officer
Connie Steward, senior vice president, Human Resources, Learning and Organizational Development at Habitat for Humanity International, has spent her entire career helping organizations move from principles of “scaling up” and “building capacity” into ground-level processes that engage a lot of people in real change.
Before coming to Habitat in January 2007, Steward was managing director of the Crossland Group, a consulting group in Boston, where she specialized in learning and organizational change. Her clients ranged from huge corporations such as IBM to the governments of The Gambia in Africa and the state of Ceara in Brazil.
“These work experiences made me realize that a lot of my history in learning and development had applications in dealing with issues of poverty,” Steward said. “I’ve also for many years had a personal interest in how individuals can help provide shelter to the poor.”
While in Boston, Steward supported Horizons for Homeless Children, which provided safe play and learning places for kids while their mothers went to finish their educations or find work so that ultimately, they could acquire safe housing for their families.
“That, plus my volunteer work for Habitat, led me to this work,” Steward said of her current role.
As a Habitat volunteer, she worked on several builds in and around Boston, becoming more and more competent in hands-on construction.
A native of Minnesota, Steward is now based in Atlanta and lives near Piedmont Park in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood. She spends about 40 percent of her time traveling to meet with Habitat staff and learn about the best ways to support the development of leaders in national offices and affiliated organizations. “Firsthand knowledge of programs is essential.” she says.
She has advanced degrees in Public Administration and Organizational Development, and at midcareer, earned a master’s degree from the Pepperdine University Graduate School of Business. Steward was drawn to Habitat, she said, by its unusually tangible results.