Kari Johnsen

NWV Habitat Hires New Executive Director

Jan. 16, 2019

The New Year brings new leadership to North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity. Kari Johnsen has been hired as the new executive director. Johnsen has a strong background in nonprofit management and a personal connection to Habitat’s mission.

NWV Habitat Board Chair Mark Rauch describes Johnsen as “genuine” and “passionate.”

“Kari demonstrates both of these traits that are critical for success in this role” Rauch said. “We were impressed by her choice to seek out leadership roles with nonprofit organizations, and by her success in those roles.”

She has more than 14 years of nonprofit management experience and has spent the last year learning about low-income housing development.

“In my work with nonprofits I have always been passionate about the opportunity to work with families and individuals to help them become self-sufficient,” Johnsen said. “I have always been envious of the work that Habitat does to help families who otherwise would never have the opportunity to become homeowners.” 

In 2005, Johnsen co-founded a local nonprofit called Financial Beginnings, which teaches financial literacy to teens and young adults. Two of her previous positions include: Asset Manager for the Farmworker Housing Development, where she was responsible for coordinating, planning and monitoring the operational and financial performance of the corporations housing portfolio; and Regional Director for Operation Homefront, which connects donors to military families through a robust array of life-changing programs.

Johnsen is originally from Lordsburg, New Mexico, but has lived in Oregon for the past 25 years. As a child, she experienced homelessness. That experience is part of what led her to where she is today.

“This gives me an understanding of what families go through,” she said. “I am fortunate that I overcame statistical challenges and I am a success story. I want to help others succeed as well.”

As property values in the area increase, land acquisition remains one of the greatest challenges for NWV Habitat.

“With my diverse knowledge and background, I believe I can help break the barriers of building more affordable housing in rural communities,” Johnsen said.