SPARTANBURG – Habitat for Humanity of Spartanburg, a key affordable housing nonprofit organization in Spartanburg, announces changes in its leadership.
After seven years of unprecedented growth, Dr. Lee Close retired effective June 30. During his tenure, Close and the Habitat team, with support from the Board of Directors, embarked on a strategy to serve more hard working, deserving families with safe, affordable housing.
With the new goal of increasing new home construction from our historic five homes per year to a target of ten per year, Habitat was on that growth path until the global pandemic set us back a bit.
“As I step away, I know my successor and this wonderful staff will move to regain that growth momentum,” Close said. “While many non-profit institutions have struggled financially during the pandemic, Habitat Spartanburg is financially strong with our planned new home construction fully funded for at least the next year.”
Under Close’s leadership, the affiliate began a Critical Home Repair Program which has to date assisted 21 families with exterior home repairs. Close was involved in 40 home builds of the 146 homes completed in the affiliate’s 34-year history. Of those, 51 families have paid off their mortgages and own their homes free and clear. Close, who is also a retired chemist from Milliken, said the work at Habitat is rewarding and challenging.
“While some days always bring challenges and uncertainty, I left Habitat at the end of every day with a strong sense of reward for the work we do,” he said. “Habitat Spartanburg opens doors for hardworking, low-income families to walk a pathway to home ownership which they would never have otherwise achieved. I am deeply grateful to have had this opportunity.”
To continue the growth and expansion expected over the next few years, Habitat’s Board of Directors has appointed Kim Hein Hutzell, who has 25 years of experience in national and regional nonprofit leadership, governance and legislative coordination. In addition, Hutzell brings years of fundraising experience and community service. Hutzell earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and Master of Arts in Youth and Humane Service Administration from the University of Northern Iowa.
“The Board is grateful beyond measure for the work Lee and his team were able to accomplish and we are confident that Kim will usher in a new era of growth and progress,” said Russ Blackburn, Habitat Board Chairman. “Habitat is in a solid financial position and we look forward to serving even more families under Kim’s leadership.”
Hutzell said she is excited for the challenge and is thankful for the opportunity to serve.
“I am very excited to join the Habitat for Humanity Spartanburg team,” Hutzell said. “ Habitat (for Humanity) is known for bringing people together to build homes, build communities, and build hope. We need to continue to be a key collaborator in Spartanburg County to provide a sustainable housing solution.”