Habitat chief leaving

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Greg Kirkpatrick is stepping down as executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Wake County after nearly tripling its average annual production of houses and quadrupling its net assets.

Mike Levi, former president of the Habitat board and retired associate state leader for natural resources and community development at N.C. Cooperative Extension at N.C. State University, will serve as interim director.

Kirkpatrick, who plans to pursue a career in consulting, writing and teaching, will serve as a consultant to Levi and the Habitat board.

“It’s just a good time to leave and it’s the right thing to do,” Kirkpatrick says.

In the six-and-a-half years he headed it, Habitat built 165 houses, increasing its average annual production to 25 houses from nine before he arrived.

Habitat built 50 houses last year, up from four in 1998, the year Kirkpatrick joined the affiliate, which in April was named affiliate of the year by Habitat for Humanity International for affiliates serving populations over 250,000.

Net assets for Habitat have grown to $8 million from $2 million in 1998.

“The organization needs to assimilate and incorporate the rapid growth,” says Kirkpatrick, who previously was executive director for 13 year of the Raleigh-based Food Bank of North Carolina, now the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.

“When you add 50 mortgages to your portfolio in one year, you’re adding a whole new burden to the infrastructure,” he says. “You’ve got families and housing and mortgages to take care of. The organization is still trying to manage the changes that have been brought on by the rapid increase in housing production.”

The challenge for Habitat, Kirkpatrick says, is to assess its full range of operations and services.

“There are issues of growth and change here, and questions about the leadership they need at this point in the organization, and the stresses that it has brought on me,” he says.

Under Kirkpatrick, the Food Bank also grew dramatically, distributing 6.7 million pounds of food a year valued at more than $10 million.

He also oversaw the completion of a capital campaign at the Food Bank that raised nearly $3.1 million, exceeding its goal of $1.7 million, and that included a deferred gift of $1 million.

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