Former Arts & Science Council executive takes over Habitat Charlotte

Former Arts & Science Council Senior Vice President Laura Belcher is taking over Charlotte’s Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

In a meeting with the nonprofit’s staff on Tuesday, Belcher said Habitat Charlotte faces new challenges, including rapidly changing demographics and an increasingly urban environment where land is at a premium.

As a result, she said the agency will explore new approaches that may move beyond single family and duplex projects to multiunit housing such as apartments.

“Charlotte is growing so fast,” she said. “We need to look at different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different cultures. ... We want to make sure we serve as a representation of the community.”

Belcher replaces Frank Spencer, who told the board in February that he was leaving the agency to take a new job as CEO of the Philadelphia-based Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Spencer joined Habitat Charlotte as president in May 2012. During his two years of leadership, the nonprofit housing ministry served a record number of low-income families with affordable housing.

Habitat’s board said Belcher was a good choice to replace him because of her ASC experience in raising money and her existing connections to a diverse group of community leaders.

While senior vice president of ASC, Belcher also served as the agency’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer. She was instrumental in the design and development of power2give.org, a national crowdfunding site for the cultural sector launched in 2011.

Habitat Charlotte has been named one of nation’s Habitat “Affiliates of Distinction” by Habitat International for its impact on the community and its willingness to adapt to new strategies.

The organization is credited with helping establish a series of Habitat for Humanity programs that eventually went national, including buying foreclosed properties to renovate and making critically needed repairs to existing homes for struggling homeowners.

Belcher is the third woman to lead the organization, which has provided 1,300 low-income families with affordable housing since 1983. It is on pace to serve an additional 106 by the close of its fiscal year, June 30. The agency forecasts helping 125 families in the coming fiscal year.