Phyllis Snodgrass

  • Name
  • Phyllis Snodgrass
  • Title
  • CEO
  • Organization
  • Austin Habitat for Humanity
  • Years as Executive Director
  • Since Nov. 2015

  • What does your organization do?
  • Driven by a vision that everyone deserves a decent place to live, Austin Habitat for Humanity builds strong, stable and self-reliant communities in Central Texas. People partner with Austin Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place that they call home. Through home, we empower.
  • How did you become interested in this work?
  • Previous to coming to Austin Habitat for Humanity, I spent 18 years leading Chambers of Commerce in community development work across the state of Texas. My favorite work during this time centered around education & workforce training and small business development. What I loved about this was bringing people together to solve problems, aligning business resources with community needs. Prior to my time working with Chambers of Commerce, I spent 15 years as a CPA with a specialty in Real Estate accounting. And, just as an aside – I always had a dream of running my own resale store. This position as Executive Director allows me to combine nonprofit management, real estate development and running a (really big) resale store and make a (really big) difference in one of the biggest issues facing our community – affordable housing. It’s really the perfect combination.
  • What drives your passion?
  • The mission statement of Habitat for Humanity International is, “Seeking to put God's love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.” One of the driving factors in my life is my faith, and the opportunity to work for an organization that shares these values is a real blessing.
  • Did you have a mentor or role model?
  • I have had so many people mentor me over the years, it would be difficult to narrow it down to just one. I was raised by a single mom, in a household where no one had ever gone to college. I had to look for role models and mentors throughout my life to guide me, because every experience I had after graduating high school, from attending college to working in a professional setting, was a whole new world for me. I try to pay it forward and mentor others as often as I can because I benefitted so much from the wisdom of others who spent time with me along the way.
  • What's the biggest challenge in your work?
  • Our two biggest challenges are land and money. Without affordable land, we cannot build affordable homes. The cost of developable land has skyrocketed in the last few years, and we simply cannot afford to purchase $400,000 lots to build $150,000 homes on. And without money – we cannot fund our mission. The two go hand in hand.
  • What's the best advice that you have ever received?
  • Take it one day at a time. Sometimes all the issues and the projects and the deadlines can be overwhelming, but right now, I just have today. And I need to do the best job I can with today.
  • What are your top tips for new Executive Directors?
  • 1) Be open and honest with your employees. It’s okay not to know everything – get to know your employees and why they are there and what skills they bring to the table. Create a culture where people are not afraid to come to you.
    2) Your Board of Directors are not your friends, they are your employer. You can have great relationships with your board members and you should, but you should never lose sight of the fact that their job is to lead the organization and review your performance. Treat them with respect and appreciate the sacrifices they are making to serve as volunteer leaders of the organization.
    3) You are the face of your organization. You should embrace that role and be ready to speak on behalf of your organization, either to the media, to the public, to potential donors or to your clients. This is a people role and your ability to represent your organization well in each of these areas is going to be critical to your success. If you need help in any of these areas – seek training and the support of other non-profit leaders.

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