Building homes, delivering dreams: Cora Haltaufderheid
ora Haltaufderheid describes her career over the last 37 years as exciting, interesting and challenging, which has left her feeling lucky and blessed.
“While not always easy, I was born to know early on that I would be the architect of my own destiny. Simply put: hard work pays
off dividends of happiness if your attitude is positive, your heart is honest and you respect people,” says Haltaufderheid. In late 2014, Haltaufderheid became the executive director of Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity.
HER PATH TO HABITAT
Haltaufderheid accepted her first job after college graduation at Shopko Stores.
“Working in store operations gave me a great understanding of business 101, human resource knowledge and the importance of customer service,” she says.
Haltaufderheid worked at Shopko for 17 years, with her last role as a senior apparel buyer. In this position, Haltaufderheid traveled the world — visiting Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and more — and made regular trips to California, Las Vegas and New York.
“Working with agents in foreign countries was a great learning experience with cultural diversity,” adds Haltaufderheid. In 1997, Haltaufderheid was offered a role as show and event director for PMI Entertainment in Green Bay. While going from retail to events was a drastic change, Haltaufderheid explains she quickly learned how to create fun.
Five years later, she was promoted to chief operating officer for the Resch Center and PMI. “Some of my fondest memories of these years are the incredible staffs who worked endlessly behind the scenes to bring entertainment to the community,” she says.
In her tenure with the Resch Center, Haltaufderheid worked on a variety of unique events, including The Packers Experience, LZ Lambeau, Tall Ship Festival, Sweet Street, WIAA Girls State Basketball tournament and bringing Kenny Chesney to perform in Lambeau. “It was a great time with good people and a top-notch organization,” adds Haltaufderheid.
Haltaufderheid’s business background and experience in retail, event marketing and managing people made her a great fit for becoming the executive director at Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity.
“The organization was and is still on the fast track of increasing home builds and the ReStore was doubling its sales volume. The timing was right for me personally to make a difference in a meaningful way, and I haven't looked back since,” she says.
ABOUT THE NONPROFIT
Upon joining Habitat, Haltaufderheid worried less about the bottom line and more about the heart. “Everything about Habitat for Humanity is special,” says Haltaufderheid. “Knowing that your teams — Habitat and ReStore staff — are living the mission of bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope is a very contagious, gratifying culture to be around.”
She explains the entire staff is passionate about its mission. “It’s like nothing I’ve seen in my time in the business world,” adds Haltaufderheid.
Habitat for Humanity helps families to live the American dream of home ownership, which comes with a mortgage payment. “Habitat does not give away homes — never have, never will,” says Haltaufderheid.
The business model provides approved families an interest- free mortgage with a silent second mortgage that is forgiven once they have fulfilled their first mortgage.
“We have a very complete selection process and it is set up for families to succeed,” adds Haltaufderheid. Habitat’s focus is families who fall between 30-60 percent of the Brown County medium income, haven’t owned a home prior and need some guidance and encouragement to get there.
The nonprofit is coming up to some major milestones. In June, Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity will begin its 100th home. Habitat’s largest project, a twinhome on Walnut Street in Green Bay, is nearing completion. In October, Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity will celebrate its 30th anniversary. And, funding from the Green Bay ReStore has built 11 homes to date. To build homes, Habitat depends on donations and volunteers. Volunteers come from all walks of life. Haltaufderheid says everyone has a story and a desire to give back to the community.
A DAY IN THE LIFE
Haltaufderheid’s days vary. Some days start with a 7:00 a.m. meeting. Then she may pull on a pair of boots and check on a job site. Other days she may be giving a presentation to an organization, school or club interested in Habitat for Humanity. “I may spend time working with staff on events, strategic planning or meeting with city leaders with ideas for us to secure more land for homes. Obviously looking for funding opportunities for Habitat for Humanity is always on my radar,” she adds.
Haltaufderheid explains each Habitat is run and managed as an independent business, which includes the need to raise its own funds. “Our hope to serve more families depends on local funding, sponsorships, ReStore donations and local giving,” she adds.
“At the end of each day, I go home exhausted yet fulfilled, knowing we have done everything we can to get everyone in our community a safe place to call home with a pillow under their head.”
GETTING WOMEN INVOLVED
Each year, National Women Build Week is held the week leading up to Mother’s Day, highlighting the homeownership challenges faced by women. The Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity recruited and trained women the week of May 6 to help build affordable homes for families in the community.
Participants raised funds to secure their volunteer spot. One day, 20 female executives got together, grabbed a tool and got involved. Haltaufderheid marveled at the ladies’ willingness to learn and to get their hands dirty.
While the future is unknown, Haltaufderheid explains the “to do” list is long. Professionally they are working on new initiates that will broaden
Habitat’s offerings to families.
“While our focus will always be on permanent solutions to homeownership, the options of home preservation and neighborhood revitalization
is being explored. Our goal is to have a greater impact in our community,” says Haltaufderheid.
Personally, Haltaufderheid reveals she’s on a journey to age gracefully, dream big and continue to enjoy each day. w