David Butler, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga announced he will retire in March. After leading the organization for the last seven and a half years, the Butlers will be moving to the Atlanta area to be closer to family.
Mr. Butler has been a hands-on administrator and takes special pride in the closing of 50 homes during his tenure. “As you see people complete program requirements with us, you’ll see them growing in ways that instill so much pride. When each dedication occurs, there’s usually not a dry eye in the house. We know that the home’s residents have just had their family history forever altered and it is a truly humbling experience.”
Butler also takes pride in the partnership with Parkridge Medical Center and the United Way of Greater Chattanooga which established the Orchard Knob Collaborative. The program was designed to make repairs to keep elderly neighbors in their own homes. Mr. Butler notes that repairs have been made to more than 100 homes through the Collaborative as well as two other Habitat programs and there are many more in the pipeline.
Habitat is halfway through its plans to complete 50 repairs for their Aging in Place program over the next three years for seniors in our community. This is in addition to the 15-20 general repairs made each year which allow residents to stay in their homes.
Mr. Butler also takes pride in participating in two Jimmy Carter Builds in Memphis and Nashville along with serving on the state board of directors for the organization for more than five years. Habitat has also activated more than 5000 volunteers in Chattanooga during his tenure. “Each volunteer brings a special skillset to Habitat; however, what is shared is a passion for the work we do. I truly got more than I gave in this position,” he said.
Over his years of service, Mr. Butler has found that the passion for Habitat has now been met with an equally high level of professionalism. Part of this comes from changing funding trends along with thinking about new ways to meet needs. “Habitat International is now building different types of housing, including condos and it’s something to be considered for the future; however, one of the most consistent goals our team of 32 has is an absolute devotion to homeownership. Because of this, we look at each project as a business proposition that has to be successful.”
He credits part of Habitat’s current success with the partnership with the City of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Housing Authority. The Mayor’s Affordable Housing Fund provided $196,000 which allowed Habitat to purchase additional parcels located in the Villages of Alton Park. Mayor Andy Berke said, “Having a home provides a strong foundation for the long-term success of a family. Under David’s leadership, working with Habitat has provided us with a strong partner to support important work on behalf of our citizens.”
Habitat board chair Marcus Jones notes that the organization has been fortunate to have Butler’s guidance during the midst of the current pandemic. “David knows the community, where the needs are and how to meet them. Whether it was ramping up our Re-Store efforts in Ooltewah after the Easter tornadoes or shifting staff to make sure needs continued to be met during the pandemic, David has provided tremendous leadership that makes us stronger as we emerge from the last few months.”
Mr. Butler’s retirement will be far from idle. When the Butlers relocate to Atlanta, Mr. Butler plans to return to his love of biking. He has also asked his wife to teach him to cook. “For 40 years, I’ve set the table and cleaned up after the meal; I think it’s about time I actually learned to cook and I’m looking forward to the challenge.” Another challenge Mr. Butler is looking forward to is re-learning his skills as a pianist set aside many years ago. “When we move into our new home, I’m looking forward to having a new piano to practice. I always enjoyed playing, but didn’t have the time to do so, now I do.”
He also plans to stay active in the non-profit world as a volunteer. “There’s so much work to be done and I’m now at a point in my life where I can put my skills to work in a new way. I’m excited about what the future holds.”
The search for the next leader of Habitat will begin immediately with board member Lee Ann Adams chairing the search committee. “David has proven to have the ‘secret sauce’ for understanding the needs of an organization that continues to change to meet the needs of those we serve,” said Ms. Adams. “We’re seeking a strong leader who has that type of understanding and can lead our organization well into the future.”
Interested individuals are encouraged to submit resumes with a cover letter expressing interest in the CEO position to the following address: HabiChattCEOSearch@GMai.com