NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – Steve Spain, who has served as the executive director of Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity since January 2013, plans to retire in April after more than 16 years of helping families in our community find shelter and permanent, affordable housing.
Spain began his local nonprofit work with Wilmington Interfaith Hospitality Network (now called Family Promise of the Lower Cape Fear) in 2005 where he led the organization for eight years, helping homeless families find permanent employment and housing. He then began as executive director with Cape Fear Habitat in 2013 and has successfully managed the organization’s efforts to grow its mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope.
Cape Fear Habitat builds affordable homes that are then sold to qualifying, hard-working, low-to middle-income families with an affordable mortgage no more than 30 percent of their monthly income. In 2013, the organization was building eight to 10 new homes per year. Though Spain’s leadership, Cape Fear Habitat has doubled their closings and the number of families assisted, and is on pace to close 20 homes in this fiscal year.
“Steve’s vision has driven tremendous growth and service through our organization in the eight years he has served as executive director,” said David Parks, Cape Fear Habitat’s Board President. “When Hurricane Florence impacted our region, Steve led his team to pivot and focus on home rehabs and rebuilds which was so desperately needed – and still is. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, he continues to lead his team to build and provide affordable homes, all while changing the way volunteers are being used, how donations are being obtained, and how the homeownership and construction process occurs to keep everyone safe.”
Spain’s advocacy for affordable housing and his collaborative work with other non-profits, developers, and government agencies, has helped Cape Fear Habitat to become a recognized affordable housing leader and moved this important conversation forward locally and at the state level. He has been a part of the Cape Fear Housing Coalition, the Emergency Food & Shelter Program, UNCW’s Quality Enhancement for Nonprofits, the 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness in the Cape Fear Region, and the County/City Workforce Housing Advisory Committee. He has also served as the board chair for Habitat for Humanity of North Carolina.
In addition, his strategic vision has also created and renewed many mission-serving programs and enhancements for the organization, including leading the development and securing the infrastructure for Blendin Meadows, a 10-acre subdivision with 27 new, affordable homes, created a new rebuild program that assists families so they can return home after being affected by Hurricane Florence; relocating the administrative, construction, and ReStore management teams to a new facility that brings staff together in one space and provides opportunities for increased efficiency, collaboration, growth, and innovation; adding two additional ReStore locations and expanding into Pender County; and effectively managing and persevering during the COVID-19 crisis – which ultimately led to one of Cape Fear Habitat’s most successful years for homeownership.
“It has been an incredible privilege to work with our dedicated and passionate staff over the years, who truly care and want to improve the lives of our neighbors,” said Spain. “I have complete confidence that this talented and resilient team will carry on Habitat’s mission and continue growing our organization to meet the needs of local families. I’d like to think my time with Cape Fear Habitat has helped families build better lives now and into the future, but the reality is that those families and the people who support this organization are the ones who have really been driving our mission forward. Every day, they demonstrate the values of helping others, of persevering, and of advocacy for what is needed and what is right.”
Spain’s successor, Lauren McKenzie, who has been shadowing him since last October, will begin as executive director on April 1. McKenzie currently serves as Cape Fear Habitat’s director of finance and operations and has been in this position for three years.
“Lauren is a strategic and proven leader, respected by her colleagues, and the board is pleased that she will be guiding this organization upon Steve’s retirement,” said Parks. “She has a strong leadership team, and we look forward to the continued momentum and progress they will bring for Cape Fear Habitat and the people we serve.”