Interview: Guy Cecala, National Board of Directors Chair
Earlier this year, Guy Cecala took the helm of Rebuilding Together’s national office Board of Directors. While not new to the board, having served on it for the past 6 years, Guy is excited to embark on this new role and has a clear vision for Rebuilding Together. We asked Guy a few questions about how he got started with Rebuilding Together, his passion for this work and his goals for the organization.
Tell us about your background and how you first became involved with Rebuilding Together.
I recently retired as the CEO and Publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, a specialized news and information company that I founded in 1984. The company produces eight newsletters, numerous special reports, several databases and a large amount of original market research and statistics related to mortgage finance in the United States. I became involved with Rebuilding Together when someone suggested to me that I should join the board. After learning more about Rebuilding Together’s mission, I instantly saw the importance of this work and wanted to provide my expertise to expand the impact of the organization.
Why are you passionate about Rebuilding Together’s mission?
Rebuilding Together’s work is hyperfocused on the needs of our communities, something that I think is an important distinction and an overlooked solution to some of the housing challenges we face as a nation. I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer in Baltimore and Montgomery County, Maryland, where I lived for many years. I’ve gotten to bring my family on various Rebuilding Together projects in different areas of the country to volunteer with me. I believe that every community could benefit from the work we do. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned how important home is. As we spend more time at home and our population ages, as well as deepen our understanding of health and home, we begin to realize how critical the work we do is. I believe what’s at the core of Rebuilding Together, the power of communities coming together to positively impact the lives of our neighbors in need is an all-important way to make our communities safer. The focus on repairing and rehabilitating homes is a tangible way to improve our quality of life. I've seen it when meeting neighbors on the volunteer projects I’ve been involved in.
How do you envision your role as Board Chair?
Rebuilding Together’s national office exists to support Rebuilding Together affiliates that are working every day in our communities. We are here to grow our visibility and presence, and to make a case as to why Rebuilding Together is so fundamental. I’m hoping to continue the work that has been done to build a nonprofit that is well-funded and is laser-focused on having a deep impact in communities where we are currently established and where we are going to expand over the next few years. In this role, I plan to work collaboratively with other board members and staff to help shape the strategic direction of the organization, ensuring that Rebuilding Together remains focused on its core values and goals. Ultimately, my goal as a board member of Rebuilding Together is to help the organization achieve its mission of providing safe and healthy housing for individuals and families in need.
What are the biggest challenges Rebuilding Together faces right now?
Over the last decade, the nonprofit sector has seen a decline in the number of individual donors who continue to support nonprofit organizations. Rebuilding Together is not unique in that regard. We are finding that there are significant challenges around donor retention, especially when it comes to first-time and younger donors. At Rebuilding Together, we address those challenges by focusing on the impact we are having on communities and putting every dollar we receive back into local communities. We have done a social return on investment study, which shows that for every $1.00 given to us, Rebuilding Together puts $2.84 back into the community with our impact. We know that as a solution, Rebuilding Together works. We’ve proven that to our donors and we will continue to do that because those who believe in the mission of Rebuilding Together know that their investment benefits communities as a whole.
Where do you see Rebuilding Together going in the future?
I see Rebuilding Together forging more partnerships and collaborations with organizations, corporations and other nonprofits. I also see Rebuilding Together continuing to expand its reach and impact. We are unique in the way we address the housing challenges that affect millions of Americans. As the need for safe and healthy housing continues to grow, I expect Rebuilding Together to play an even more significant role in this area. Looking at the decade ahead, Rebuilding Together is strategically aligned to build a safer and healthier future for our communities while preserving the unique fabric of each community. By 2030, Rebuilding Together has pledged to make more than one million repairs, expand its footprint to all the top 50 most-in-need cities and rural communities and adopt an organization-wide anti-racist, people-first community-oriented approach to its work and services.