The Habitat for Humanity of Kent County Board of Directors has appointedBriAnne McKee, the organization’s director of volunteer services, as interim director. She replaces Mary Buikema, Habitat Kent’s visionary executive director, who will leave her position on Nov. 2 as she transitions into a new life with her new husband and children outside of Ann Arbor.
Buikema has been Habitat Kent’s executive director for six years, overseeing significant growth in the number of families served and neighborhood blocks transformed by the organization and how this work impacts the greater Grand Rapids area. The affiliate has grown, initially serving 20 families a year through its homeownership programs. From 2013-2015, Habitat Kent served 200 families through home building, rehabs, repairs and neighborhood beautification projects.
McKee has been at Habitat Kent for the past three years, first as a mortgage application specialist in the Homeowner Services Department before taking over as director of volunteer services in January 2014. As director of volunteer services, she has managed 19,000 volunteers and developed key partnerships with corporate and community partners.
McKee has spent the past decade working at housing agencies, including the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Salvation Army Booth Family Services and, most recently, the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness. She has a master’s in social work from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s in social work from Western Michigan University. She is active in the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Community Leadership and serves on the board of directors for Network180. She was a finalist for the 2015 ATHENA Young Professional Award.
“Bri has repeatedly demonstrated exemplary leadership with dignity, humility and grace,” Buikema said. “Her positive rapport with our staff, partner families and community stakeholders, along with her prior work experience and her commitment to Habitat’s mission, make her a natural fit for the director position.”
Buikema, who married last month, has been working with the board and leadership team, which includes McKee, on a plan to ensure a smooth transition. Together, they will determine Habitat Kent’s long-term leadership direction.
Buikema’s connections with Habitat for Humanity will be ongoing after Nov. 2. She will continue to serve on the board of Habitat’s State Support Organization and the Habitat Michigan Fund as well as offer strategic direction and consultation to affiliates as needed, including Kent County.
“We stand on a firm financial footing, and we have a new strategic plan that will keep us positioned as one of Habitat’s leading affiliates in the nation,” said Larry Erhardt, Habitat Kent board president. “We wish Mary and her new family all the best in the years ahead – and look forward to staying connected to her.”
Earlier this month, Habitat Kent announced its most ambitious project to date – Plaza Roosevelt, which aims to enhance the physical, service and social environments of the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood on Grand Rapids’ Southwest Side. It is a comprehensive redevelopment project that will invest more than $20 million to reinvigorate one square block bounded by Rumsey Street, Grandville Avenue, Graham Street and Century Avenue in Roosevelt Park. While the project will not formally launch until 2017, Habitat Kent has begun convening conversations about Plaza Roosevelt will community organizations and neighborhood residents and will curate the various projects and initiatives that fall under this broad community umbrella.
Also under Buikema, Habitat Kent has constructed the first home in Michigan to meet new LEED Gold v4 standards from the U.S. Green Building Council, or USGBC. The home is at 730 Oakland Ave. SW.
The organization’s neighborhood revitalization efforts will continue over the next two years on the West Side. These efforts will include home building, rehabs, repairs and neighborhood beautification projects.
“We have reinvigorated enthusiasm, a clear direction and incredible momentum – and we have a lot more to do,” Erhardt said. “It’s an exciting time to be part of the Habitat Kent story.”