Paul Leonard

2006 SeasonPaul Leonard

Paul Leonard, a former Presbyterian minister and retired real estate and construction industry executive , served as the interim chief executive officer for the world's largest nonprofit homebuilder, Habitat for Humanity (2004-2005).



Music of a Thousand Hammers: Inside Habitat for Humanity (2006)



In the end, the issue for the board was fire Millard or resign in masse. Trust between the parties had dropped to zero, which is where it remains today. President Carter noted on one occasion that Millard broke both a solemn vow and a legal agreement. I do not fault the board for its actions. In fact, it took extraordinary strength and commitment to this ministry to act in the face of total defiance by its founder. p. xvii


This is not a story about my work with Crosland or subsequently with Centex Homes, which purchased Crosland's home-building operations in 1987. It is a story about my volunteer time with Habitat for Humanity. But perhaps this background will help explain why my first response to the invitation to join Habitat was, "No, thank you." p. 7


I do not know if you have ever heard the music of a thousand hammers. But Monday morning in Eagle Butte, there was a symphony, a cacophony of sound that reached the heavens and must have pleased the Father of all who labored in love and sweat below. That is what I like about the first morning of a blitz in North America: the sound of hammers, hammering out equity, hammering out love, hammering out hope and the excitement of walls being raised and houses rising with the morning sun.... p. 14-15


I had never seen eighteen- and twenty-year-olds dressed in fatiques, armed with submachine guns, guarding hotel lobbies and the doors of almost every retail establishment. I had never seen such traffic congestion and belches of exhaust from scooters, buses, and taxis, so much exhaust that many pedestrians covered their faces with handkerchiefs or masks. I had never seen children playing beside open sewers or tin shacks with roofs held on by piles of old rubber tires. I had never experienced a family's graciously moving out of their home to provide a place for me to sleep at night. In the midst of poverty and deprivation, I had never seen women leading their families in morning prayers and songs of thanksgiving and praise. I had never discerned the true difference between the riches of the spirit and the riches of this world. Manila changed all that for me. p. 27


I am looking for something more, something beyond houses that is intentional and deliberate, planned from the beginning and part of Habitat's impact on both families and communities. From my very first board meeting in Manila, where I saw raw waste flowing beside the streets in a new Habitat community, I thought Habitat needed to broaden its focus and, by working in partnership with other groups and agencies, provide potable water, improve sanitation, develop schools, ensure medical care and improve income opportunities. I was pleased in Baanuase,Ghana, to see a teak forest that had been planted buy the home owners and would be harvested by them one day for the benefit of their community. I was not pleased that the women in this community had to walk a mile for water and that the streets were graded with no thought to storm water runoff. p. 175