CEO of local Habitat for Humanity chapter is moving on
Mike Mitchell has led Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake through one name change, two mergers and lots and lots of affordable-housing construction projects since he took the helm almost nine years ago. Now the CEO is about to head out the door.
He said he thinks the organization is well-positioned, and he's ready to do something else.
"There's been a lot of change," Mitchell said Tuesday. "I think with all of that change, I am, I guess, tired in a lot of ways -- 'tired' isn't the right word, but I'm just ready for something new. I'm actually going to take some time, and I may even change careers completely. I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'm excited about doing something different."
He plans to step down in mid-November. The group expects to launch a search for his replacement shortly but has already been getting inquiries from potential candidates, which tells you how fast news travels in the nonprofit community here. (It was only Friday that Mitchell told the board he intended to leave.)
Mitchell, who joined the staff after a few months as a board member, didn't come from the housing industry. His background is nonprofits and workforce development. He's run for office before (he took a three-month leave of absence from Habitat in 2006 while contending for a seat in the House of Delegates) and currently sits on the Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee. So politics is a possibility for his next phase, but he says he's keeping his options open.
Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake -- like Habitat chapters worldwide -- relies on volunteer labor and donations to sell newly constructed or rehabbed homes to lower-income workers at prices they can afford. Habitat also offers no-interest mortgages, another way to keep the costs down.
"The organization is continuing to grow and thrive," said Sandra Erbe, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake's marketing director. "We've just completed a big development on Clay Street in Annapolis. We're getting ready to dedicate another 11 homes in East Baltimore. While we consider [Mitchell's resignation] to be a great loss for the organization, we plan not to miss a beat."
Mitchell, reflecting on the group's work, noted an irony that some of you have talked about before: "Baltimore is a city that has thousands of vacant houses, and it has thousands of people in need of decent housing." Habitat, he says, tries to bridge that gap.
What else do you think could be done -- by nonprofits, businesses or city agencies -- to turn eyesore vacants into livable homes that don't cost an arm and a leg?