The Media School

Eliminating housing poverty is Habitat for Humanity CEO Wendi Goodlett’s goal

April 2nd, 2019 by
Photograph by Autumn Schoolman

Wendi Goodlett is a Bloomington native who has been CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County since July 2018. She got started with Habitat in 2007 when she attended the annual Women Build event.

In Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County CEO Wendi Goodlett’s office, the star of the room is a framed poster of Habitat’s 2007 Women Build event. Her predecessor hung the poster, and when Goodlett moved into the office in July 2018, she realized that this event was her first ever with Habitat.

“I got my start with Habitat at Women Build in 2007, and I didn’t know anything other than that they build houses and they get to pay an interest free mortgage,” said Goodlett. “I got to work alongside the homeowner that day and get to know her a little better. I was hooked immediately. I just fell in love with it.”

Goodlett, 46, is a Bloomington native who has been CEO of Habitat since July 2018. She said the housing market in Monroe County is affected by student housing and commercial building.

Habitat works with residents to maintain steady income, become educated on money management and eventually become homeowners. According to Goodlett, Bloomington is the least affordable place to live in Indiana. She said commercial building and student housing affect the housing market.

“It’s one of the great things about being in Bloomington and also a downside of being in Bloomington,” she said. “You’ve got students who live together because they all pay separately but a family is not in the same situation.”

Working alongside Goodlett has been an inspiring process for Theresa Lehman, marketing and communications director for Habitat.

Photograph by Autumn Schoolman

Habitat's focus is eliminating housing poverty in Monroe County. Women Build gives women the experience and knowledge they need to own a home.

“I first met Wendi when we both volunteered for the Habitat Women Build committee a few years back,” she said. “It was clear then, as it is now, that she is deeply committed to Habitat’s mission, and I have always enjoyed working alongside her to help local families.”

Goodlett began volunteering for Habitat in 2007 when she was a stay-at-home mom. She spent most of her free time with Habitat after experiencing her first Women Build, an event that brings women together to learn about construction and homeownership.

“To watch all of the other women who were there, including the homeowner, learn to do something new, like use a power tool for the first time, was really appealing to me,” she said. “I love to help someone try something new.”

Goodlett grew up around construction work, as her parents bought and remodeled houses. She enjoyed helping out even as a small child. For her, the finished product is a rewarding experience. She said the moment of handing over the keys to the new homeowner makes the entire process worth it.

“They can really focus on other things in their lives.” – Wendi Goodlett, CEO, Habitat for Humanity

“When I first experienced it, it’s like ‘Oh, you’re seeing this chapter close,’” she said. “What I’ve learned since is that when they get the keys, it’s really just the beginning for them. They’re in a much more stable environment. Their kids are healthier and they know that they’re going to be there long-term. They can really focus on other things in their lives.”

Habitat plans to expand its lots in the next five years. Goodlett said she is ready to take on the challenge and move her employees to work harder and smarter.

Lehman said working alongside Goodlett energizes her for the future of Habitat.

“I believe she is the best person, without a doubt, to lead us forward as we embark on some pretty amazing projects in the next few years,” said Lehman.

Goodlett said her mission is to eliminate poverty housing by building decent, affordable homes in Monroe County.

“For those of us who have always been homeowners, we take it for granted,” she said. “Everyone deserves a decent place to live.”