Megachurch Pastor Named CEO of Habitat for Humanities

Habitat for Humanity named its new chief executive officer yesterday after a unanimous decision by its board of directors.

Habitat for Humanity named its new chief executive officer yesterday after a unanimous decision by its board of directors.

Rey Ramsey, board chair for the global Christian homebuilding ministry, said Habitat's Board of Directors unanimously selected Jonathan T.M. Reckford based upon his track record redirecting and leading complex organizations and for his personal commitment to heed Christ’s call to serve the poor and forgotten.

Reckford, 42, has for two years served as executive pastor of the 4,300-member Christ Presbyterian Church of Edina, Minn. Before joining Christ Presbyterian, Reckford was president of stores for the Musicland division of Best Buy; senior vice president of corporate planning and communications for Circuit City; and director of strategic planning for Disney Design and Development.

“While sad about the prospect of leaving my church community in Minnesota, I feel as if God has been preparing me for the last 20 years for a time such as this,” said Reckford, who succeeds Paul Leonard, interim CEO. “I believe passionately in Habitat’s mission and can’t think of a movement I would rather join.”

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who served as honorary chair of Habitat’s succession planning task force, said, “Jonathan Reckford is a wonderful choice to become Habitat for Humanity’s new chief executive officer. His background in business will help Habitat navigate the economy and business climate, and his pastoral experiences will help him shepherd Habitat’s ministry and assure it continues to share and demonstrate Jesus’ teachings worldwide.

“We all owe a great deal to Paul Leonard, who has been inspirational in his leadership of Habitat for Humanity. I am sure he will continue to share his immense compassion and commitment to Habitat, but I am delighted that Jonathan will lead Habitat forward in its mission to help bridge the housing divide between those who have everything and those who live in abject poverty.

“Rosalynn and I look forward to working with thousands of other volunteers to help assure the complete success of Habitat’s worldwide ministry under Jonathan Reckford’s leadership.”

According to the ministry, Reckford and his wife, Ashley, are longtime supporters of Habitat and have worked alongside Habitat partner families in building their homes.

The change is a big one, Reckford said, but is a natural next step.

“I have felt an increasing passion to serve more directly in heeding Christ’s call to serve the poor and forgotten,” he said. “My motivation is best summed up by the desire to live out the great commandment, expressed by Micah as a call to ‘act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.’”

Reckford added, “It is humbling to get to serve alongside the thousands of committed Habitat associates and volunteers to bring hope and dignity, build communities and strive toward our mission to eradicate poverty housing.”

A North Carolina native, Reckford graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with a degree in political science. In 1984, he joined Goldman, Sachs, then was awarded the Henry Luce Foundation Scholarship for Young American Leaders. With that, he traveled to South Korea to work with the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee, working on marketing sponsorships and coaching the Korean national rowing team.

Upon his return from South Korea, Reckford graduated from Stanford University Graduate School of Business in Palo Alto, Calif., with an MBA focused on public and nonprofit management, and joined Marriott’s corporate strategy group. In 1991, he moved Disney Design and Development, and then was named senior vice president, corporate planning and communications for Circuit City Stores, then president of stores of the Musicland Group which was subsequently acquired by Best Buy.

In 2003, after years of active volunteering with Christ Presbyterian Church, Reckford became the executive pastor of 4,300-member church body. Christ Presbyterian is recognized as a pioneer in partnering with nongovernmental organizations such as World Vision and Opportunity International – where Reckford is a board member – to combat AIDS in Uganda and which supports cross-cultural missions locally and internationally. Opportunity International is a partner with Habitat on an AIDS-focused project in Africa that features house-building and micro-financing components.