Valerie Renk announced her retirement as Chief Executive Officer of Habitat for Humanity of Dane County, marking an end to her 11 years of service. During this time, Renk led the expansion of the affordable homeownership nonprofit with new large-scale housing developments, 160+ homes, a home repair program, and financial capability trainings.
With a background in development, microfinance and agriculture, Renk was named Habitat’s CEO in 2012. During her tenure, she grew the organization from $6 million to $18 million in assets, serving 550+ families through homeownership programs.
Under her leadership, Habitat for Humanity of Dane County:
– Expanded to a 45,000-square-foot central campus, combining the Habitat administrative office, ReStore West location, and two of three warehouses
– Developed a five-year land bank for future building and development
– Built in 11 Dane County communities including Madison, Sun Prairie, Oregon, Stoughton, Fitchburg, Verona, Middleton, Brooklyn, and Mount Horeb.
– Started a Furniture Bank
– Increased mortgage loan capacity to modest means families by more than $1.25 million dollars
– Became the first Habitat in the nation to be approved by the US Treasury for Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) status
– Launched a local Women’s Build Program and emergency COVID mortgage deferral plan, while growing homeownership plans to include repair and financial capability training.
Renk also coped with many challenges throughout her tenure, including a temporary loss of volunteers during the pandemic and the current era of soaring building costs in Dane County.
“Valerie is an inspirational, supportive leader, always out in front driving the affordable housing mission of Habitat forward,” said Habitat Board Chair Josh Reiter. “She’s done an outstanding job bringing together volunteers, donors, local officials, and other supporters together to build stronger communities and empower our partner families to achieve their dream of homeownership.”
The Habitat Board of Directors is currently launching a search for a new CEO, and Renk will be staying on-board until a replacement is found. Habitat COO Steve Hanrahan will also be involved every step of the way, ensuring Habitat is good hands.
“There are so many impacts of homeownership – but I appreciate, most, the sustainable cycle of possibilities and progress that owning a Habitat home creates. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this,” Renk said. “It’s been the highlight of my career to work with Habitat’s tight-knit community of supporters and volunteers – a community just as invested and passionate about helping our neighbors in need and addressing the affordable housing crisis as I am.”
After retirement, Renk will continue to support community development and manage farmland and a wetland conservation bank she co-owns as a part-time consultant. She and her husband, Jeff, live on his family farm near Sun Prairie.
Read more in the Sun Prairie Star