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Women Leaders Take Habitat for Humanity in a Bold New Direction

Women Leaders Take Habitat for Humanity in a Bold New Direction

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The world has changed since Habitat for Humanity Edmonton was founded 30 years ago. What hasn’t changed is the need to provide safe, affordable home ownership for families. Today, four women are helping to usher in a new era for Habitat.

Mary Cameron
Chair Elect, Habitat for Humanity International

In the early 2000s Cameron was asked to co-chair Women Build. Later she joined the volunteer board of directors at Habitat Edmonton, and then moved on to serve on the boards of Habitat Canada and Habitat International. When she becomes the Chair of the Habitat International board later this year, she will be the first Canadian to hold this position. 

The pandemic has created new complexities in addressing the need for housing globally, which all Habitat affiliates support through a tradition of tithing. “There is a challenge in dealing with COVID internationally,” says Cameron. “Some countries are years away from having their populations vaccinated and there are places we cannot have volunteers on site.”

She continues, “It’s just one step at a time. We have amazing people around the world in a decentralized (Habitat) system. Our national offices help each other and get resources to the places that need them the most. We also partner with other organizations to provide homes, but to also transform lives through food, water, and education.”

Julia Deans
President & CEO, Habitat for Humanity Canada

Deans joined Habitat in February 2020 because she saw that the organization had the ability to tackle Canada’s affordable housing crisis.

She says, “1.7 million Canadians face core housing needs, so we need all hands on deck to smooth that pathway to affordable home ownership, and the safety and security and savings that come with it. Canada has always valued a high rate of home ownership, with good reason; with home ownership, people’s lives improve, and our communities do, too. Habitat is perfectly poised to tap into the strength of our values, leverage our expertise, expand our network and harness the power of our brand to achieve our goal of helping many more people attain social and financial stability, build equity and transform futures.”

Deans continues, “Within 10 years, we will be playing an even bigger role than we do today. We will build more homes through expanded partnerships; and beyond the build we will help more people move along the pathway to home ownership.”

Dr. Ann-Marie Reddy
President & CEO, Habitat for Humanity Edmonton

Dr. Reddy became increasingly impressed with the organization after she started volunteering for Habitat build projects as an employee of one of the organization’s many corporate partners. Contributing to a build in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina was particularly impactful. In her new role as CEO of Habitat Edmonton, Dr. Reddy is leading a transformation of how the organization serves families throughout Northern Alberta.

“Habitat Edmonton is focusing on being more effective and efficient in how we build our homes, such as working with builders, developers, and municipalities and the Government of Alberta to create more time and cost efficiency,” says Dr. Reddy about how the organization is evolving. “Our intake process is changing too – families are waiting less time to find out if they are a successful Habitat homeowner.”

She is passionate about the effect of affordable home ownership on children. “Stability has a trickle-down effect of children doing better in school and less crime in areas of affordable home ownership. Children growing up in a Habitat home have less chance of falling into poverty and low income. It is so important to always have affordable home ownership in a community. We need to get the message out about the value of affordable home ownership, especially on behalf of our children, who are our future.” 

Carolynne Heron
Vice-Chair, Habitat for Humanity Edmonton

For 20 years Heron has served on a number of boards, worked with non-profits to serve vulnerable people, removed barriers, helped fund international trained immigrants to obtain low interest micro-loans, helped skilled immigrants and refugees restart their careers in Canada, evolved individuals with disabilities by connecting community resources, and advocated for mental health awareness.

“Since 2019, I have had the privilege of serving on the Habitat Edmonton board. I strongly believe that everyone deserves to have a home and that affordable home ownership for families in our community and beyond the walls of our city is critical,” says Heron.


A changing world,
a changing organization

As Habitat for Humanity Edmonton celebrates 30 years, it will continue to address affordable home ownership needs, focusing on the present crises and planning for the future. Families benefit through obtaining a home with no down payment, and a mortgage based on 50 per cent of the appraised value (Habitat holds the second mortgage interest free for 20 years).

Individuals and businesses are invited to get involved through corporate team building, donations, gifts-in-kind, helping with land procurement, and donations to ReStore (donations of new and gently used building materials, furniture, appliances).

Reach out to us directly: Sabrina Ali, Senior Manager, Fund Development | 780-479-3566

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