The Wake Forest University Charlotte Center welcomed Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, to launch an educational initiative to support nonprofit organizations. Reckford served as the keynote speaker for “Navigating for the Future” a free symposium for nonprofit organizations on March 28.
Steve Reinemund, Dean of Business, and Anthony Foxx, Mayor of Charlotte welcomed attendees who gathered at the Bank of America Auditorium to hear Reckford’s keynote address.
Reckford’s presentation titled, “Turning Calamity into Opportunity” emphasized how a crisis provides opportunities for innovation and rethinking “business as usual.” He discussed how the tsunami in Asia and hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the United States forced Habitat for Humanity to become more nimble.
“People lost their lives, their homes, their communities and their businesses. But the magnitude of the destruction and our desire to help more families rebuild their lives forced us to change our idea of what was possible. It meant that we had to test new ideas and attempt some strategies that we never tried before,” he said.
Reckford said those natural disasters prompted Habitat for Humanity to shift its paradigm of building individual homes to one of developing entire communities.
The housing crisis created yet another challenge for Habitat for Humanity, he said. With the increasing numbers of vacant, foreclosed homes, the organization worked on repairs and rehab of existing homes to purchase and sell at an affordable price to low-income families.
Audience members watched in amazement as Reckford showed before and after photos of
a Habitat for Humanity neighborhood revitalization project along Cherry Street in Winston-Salem. Reckford commended Wake Forest University students, faculty and staff for work on the project, and said his organization has set a goal to serve 100,000 families a year worldwide by 2013.
Reckford closed his keynote address by recognizing the passion and work of the Charlotte-area nonprofit community. “I want to thank all of you who made the decision at some point to invest your time, talent and treasure into making the world a better place.”
Joanne O’Brien Beam (’84), Managing Partner of Capstone Advancement Partners and President of the Wake Forest University Charlotte Alumni Club, said she was impressed by Reckford’s message. “He runs an enormous organization, but was able to put it into perspective for any organization, big or small,” she said.
The keynote address transitioned into a fireside chat with Reckford and Reinemund, moderated by Dr. Leighton Ford, author, social activist and president of Leighton Ford Ministries.
While concluding the session, Ford told the audience, “I want to thank you for being hope holders.”
Steve Virgil, Director of the Wake Forest University Community Law and Business Clinic, announced that the Wake Forest University Charlotte Center will host “Essentials of Business for Nonprofit Organizations,” an executive education series starting in September. Course topics will include: Governance, Strategic Planning, Budgeting and Finance, Human Resources, Fund Development, Collaboration, Evaluation, Advocacy and Communication, and Leadership Lessons for Nonprofits. Registration opens June 1. Some scholarships are available thanks to the support of corporate partners Duke Energy and Foundation for the Carolinas.