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Austin Habitat for Humanity names new CEO

Phyllis Snodgrass, currently the COO of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, will take over as chief executive officer of Austin Habitat for Humanity beginning Nov. 2, the group announced Tuesday.

Snodgrass said she felt privileged to be chosen for the job and would work hard to hit the ground running with the organization, particularly in the area of housing affordability, which she said is “one of the most critical” issues in Austin.

“Affordability is one of the big challenges, so getting to work on the front lines, working with a great team and getting to make a difference on an issue that’s really important in Austin — it’s a rare opportunity and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Snodgrass said during an interview in her downtown Austin office.

Snodgrass, who has been in her current role with the local chamber of commerce since 2013, said she was not looking for a new job but applied for the position because the nonprofit job fell in line with goals she had been setting for herself.

“In my mind I knew if I was going to do something next it was going to be something that would make a difference, and I’d especially be interested in something that was faith-based,” Snodgrass said. “When this opportunity arose, it felt good from day one.”

The nonprofit conducted a four-month national search for its next chief executive and received significant interest in the position, said interim CEO Ken Corby. But Snodgrass set herself apart.

“She brings the big-picture thinking and steady hand needed to fulfill our mission of serving Austin families,” Corby said in a news release

Prior to her work with the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Snodgrass served as an executive at the Texas Association of Business and led the San Marcos and Athens chambers of commerce. Snodgrass said she will tap the business relationships she’s made in her prior positions to advance the nonprofit’s goals.

“My entire team here (at the chamber) is super supportive,” Snodgrass said. “Our board has reached out and said, ‘Let me help you when you get there.’ I’ve got all the support that’s going to help me.”

Snodgrass will join the nonprofit during a key year. The Austin affiliate is celebrating its 30th anniversary and is on the verge of opening its new Community Home Center at 500 W. Ben White Blvd., where the nonprofit will centralize its administrative offices, construction warehouse and its bargain-hunting shop called the ReStore, where donated items are sold to fund the group’s other projects, in an effort to consolidate the group’s operations and better serve the community, the group said.

This year, the Austin-based Habitat for Humanity was named an affiliate of distinction by the national branch, one of only 14 chapters to receive the award. Snodgrass said she will work to maintain the high level of achievement the group has shown.

“It’s always been important to me that whatever organization I’m in, we’re striving to be the best we can be,” she said. “That organizational excellence is one of the things we’re striving for and we try to make improvements on who we are. Everyone can get better. Any organization has that opportunity for continued improvement.”

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