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Heather Lafferty quadruples reach of Habitat Denver

2019 CEO of the Year Finalist: Heather Lafferty started as a volunteer and rose to CEO and executive director


Heather Lafferty | CEO and Executive Director

Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, Denver

2019 CEO of the Year Finalist

Heather Lafferty, 45, joined Habitat for Humanity International as a regional director in 1999 after seeing a help wanted ad in The Denver Post. She moved over to Habitat for Humanity Metro Denver in 2003. Five years later, Lafferty became its CEO and executive director.

But her story with Habitat began about 20 years earlier, as a volunteer when she was in high school on the East Coast. “I always was connected to the very tangible nature of Habitat: You could literally see the impact of your work,” Lafferty says. “Habitat was making transformational changes in people’s lives.”

In the years since she took the reins, Habitat Denver has quadrupled the number of families it serves annually with the help of 20,000 volunteers. Lafferty says the growth is due to adapting to the community’s needs with higher-density housing and a repair program.

A project with 32 new, for-sale homes in the Swansea neighborhood in northeast Denver is underway as another at Aria in northwest Denver breaks ground in 2020. An ongoing expansion of Habitat Denver’s mortgage arm could catalyze more growth; down payments will be 5% or lower instead of the often unattainable 20%.

No matter the program, Lafferty aims to reverse an 8 percent decline in home ownership in metro Denver. “We’re going to become this transient city, where people can’t afford to live, especially our workforce. We’re talking teachers, police officers, janitors, taxi drivers. Really giving our low- to moderate-income families an opportunity to be able to buy a home is so important.”

This article is part of ColoradoBiz Magazine's annual CEO of the Year feature. Read more about this year's winner John Hayes and the other finalists: 


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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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