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Construction Staff & House Leaders

Alex Cook

Alex enjoyed his first day of volunteering in 1999 so much that he returned each week until the house was completed. After that build he began to volunteer regularly, becoming a skilled supervisor, and then joined Atlanta Habitat in 2007 as a house leader. “Interaction with the homeowners and changing their mindset from having a place to stay to having home and a community is the most gratifying part of my job,” said Alex.
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Brian Findley

Brian began with Atlanta Habitat in 2008 as a house leader, where he enjoyed working with volunteers and sponsors. After three years, he was promoted to construction manager, and in 2012, he also assumed the role of safety manager.

Brian, a native of Atlanta, takes pride in being part of an organization that strengthens our community by providing working families the opportunity for affordable homeownership, ongoing education classes, and financial guidance. Brian is also proud of the initiative Atlanta Habitat takes to build energy-efficient homes without sacrificing affordability and quality.

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Caleb Starr

Caleb lived in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois before making his home in the slower-moving South. He originally came to Atlanta for Mission Year, a Christian urban outreach program.

“Atlanta Habitat gives volunteers a great hands-on experience. We work with volunteers to do everything from framing to roofing to paint to cabinets to trim. Even if you have never done anything like this in your life, with a great attitude and some hard work, we will accomplish a lot together,” said Caleb.

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Denise Childs

Denise grew up in many places, but she spent her junior high through college years in Chicago. Denise started out as a volunteer at Atlanta Habitat and then became a skilled supervisor. She enjoyed the job so much that she left her job in sales to become a house leader.

She has now been with Atlanta Habitat for 10 years. “The most rewarding part of my job is turning the keys over to the homebuyer,” said Denise.

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Harley Armstrong

Harley grew up as an “army brat,” so he lived in many different places. He was born in Pensacola, Florida, and graduated from high school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He served five years in the Marine Corps, which he attributes to teaching him integrity and discipline.

He enjoys helping people and was involved in the nonprofit industry for several years. That experience led him to Atlanta Habitat. “At the end of the day, seeing the accomplishment of the finished product is very rewarding,” said Harley.

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Irene Kagika

Originally from Nairobi, Kenya, Irene moved to Atlanta eight years ago. She has been with Atlanta Habitat for four years; two years as an AmeriCorps member.

“Atlanta Habitat gives me the opportunity to be of service to others, to make homeownership a reality for the families, and to use my God-given skills in construction. It also gives me a chance to meet great volunteers and families,” said Irene.

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Jacob Rufenacht

Jacob’s wife, a Ga. Tech grad, brought this Ohio native to Atlanta. He was with Sherwin-Williams for three+ years before joining us as warehouse and inventory coordinator. “I really like that Habitat’s model works in Atlanta and across the world,” said Jacob. “It’s great to see the hard work that all the volunteers put in and to work alongside them to make things go smoothly.

Jacob enjoys being part of the development going on in the city. He plays guitar and basketball and enjoys spending time with his daughter.

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Jim Blackstone

A native Georgian, Jim has been with Atlanta Habitat for 11 years. As construction director, he oversees all building or renovation for each of our homes.

“I’m extremely proud of the work we do here,” said Jim. “My favorite part of working with Atlanta Habitat is the people drawn to the mission – sponsors, volunteers, my fellow employees, and everyone involved.” Jim oversees our green building program, safety training, and management training with construction staff. 

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Phil Swanson

Phil lived in Ann Arbor, New Orleans, and Boulder/Denver before making Atlanta his new home. After experiencing an Atlanta Habitat Day 2 build, he wanted to continue to improve lives and the community by building homes. “I am most excited about facilitating a great experience for the homebuyer, the volunteer, and the sponsor that spans many years into the neighborhood community,” said Phil.

He enjoys the building process and working with inspired groups and individuals who enjoy serving the first-time homebuyer’s dream. When he’s not working, he also enjoys reading, running, and spending time with his wife and friends.

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Rachel Barber

After volunteering on a Clark Howard build in 2012, Rachel became interested in helping others through Habitat for Humanity. She began volunteering on builds whenever she could and was eager to be part of something that created lasting value. Rachel served as an AmeriCorps member from 2013-14, but became a full-time House Leader in July 2014.

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Reid Lockwood

Reid grew up in our country’s capital, Washington, D.C., where he lived for 19 years. He became involved with Atlanta Habitat because he believes in our mission to partner with working families, sponsors, and communities to build affordable, green, quality homes and provide support services that promote successful home purchase and ownership.

“There are challenges working with the timelines, but the reward is getting to interact with the families,” said Reid, who has been with us for almost six years.

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Sean Green

Sean is originally from Georgia, but he first volunteered on a Habitat build while in the Navy in Florida. That experience sparked his interest in homebuilding, and a previous position with a property management company helped him hone his construction skills. Sean has also worked in the nonprofit field, so as Atlanta Habitat’s newest house leader, he’s landed in the right place. When not working with volunteers and homebuyers, Sean enjoys cooking, good food, and first-rate fellowship.

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Tommy Nelson

AmeriCorps member
Volunteering runs deep in Tommy’s blood. He has had a three-year AmeriCorps career with Habitat for Humanity and is returning for his fourth year as AmeriCorps for 2014-15. In his spare time, Tommy loves to volunteer with various animal welfare organizations and fosters kittens and puppies. He began working with Atlanta Habitat last September when he made the move to Georgia from sunny Hermosa Beach, Calif. He now works with the construction team because he believes the change that happens within the neighborhoods where he worked is amazing. “I chose Atlanta Habitat because of its unique building process that utilizes all the stakeholders in the community to make a greater Atlanta.” Whenever he doesn’t have a hammer in his hand, Tommy also loves to go hiking and camping..

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