middle aged white man wearing a tan jacket standing in front of a row of houses

Habitat for Humanity is a global housing nonprofit that helped 13.4 million people create a place to call home in 2023. Habitat works in all 50 U.S. states and in more than 70 countries. It is remarkable to consider that Habitat for Humanity grew from the ambitions of three visionaries on a community farm in Georgia almost 50 years ago. Their goal was to help people achieve stability through safe, decent, and affordable housing. The mission continues today.  

A shortage of affordable housing has societal impacts and is especially challenging for low-income Americans. In Central Texas, the lack of housing has caused workforce shortages and an increase in homelessness. That’s where you’ll find a transplant from New Hampshire, Billy Whipple ’12 G ‘23, in Austin, Texas, where he has been focused on the Habitat for Humanity mission for over 14 years.  

Billy’s journey to Texas and an impactful leadership career had its start in New Hampshire. 

three people standing in a kitchen, looking at building blueprints

"I began my career as a weekend/summer construction laborer for the company my dad worked for. I would clean up job sites, dig holes, and deliver material. After I graduated from Dover High (NH), I joined their company full-time and began an apprenticeship. This is where I fell in love with building. "

Billy was excited by the “art and science” of construction. He was eager to grow in the field. Opportunity was plentiful as U.S. home ownership was booming. However, in 2006, home prices started to drop, mortgage-backed securities were sold off, and foreclosures rose to record levels. By the winter of 2008, the U.S. economy was in recession, taking the housing market down with it.   

"I was a young, ambitious builder with nothing to build. This is when I looked for options to continue building. Following in my older brother’s footsteps, I discovered AmeriCorps and began working with Habitat for Humanity." 


Joining AmeriCorps to Serve the Community

AmeriCorps is the federal agency for national service and volunteerism. In partnership with Habitat organizations, AmeriCorps members serve in diverse roles to build and repair homes, expand housing services, and engage the community. During their time with Habitat, AmeriCorps members make significant contributions while learning and developing lifelong skills and confidence.  

"As an AmeriCorps member, I served alongside staff and volunteers at our Austin Habitat construction and home repair sites. I felt like I was starting again, cleaning sites, digging holes, and delivering material. What I didn’t realize was how much I would need to develop as a leader, and that was the place to do it." 

Getting His M.S. Leadership Degree to Make a Difference as a Leader

a man sitting at a desk with a computer, petting a dog sitting next to him

In time, as part of his professional growth, Billy recognized the importance of building upon his practical experience with advanced knowledge of organizational behavior, leading teams, and strategic planning.  

"Individuals join nonprofits because of their passion and motivation towards the mission. As a leader in the nonprofit sector, I feel privileged to be able to make a positive difference in my community. The decisions I make impact the lives of our clients, how volunteers interact with their neighbors, and the future of our employees. It's an intense and humbling role that I take very seriously." 

Billy also strongly believes that “leaders are always learning,” so he returned to his alma mater a decade later for a master’s degree in leadership. He learned that UNH was a School of National Service, providing benefits to AmeriCorps and City Year members and alumni 

"AmeriCorps and the college each had a huge impact on my life and career. When I returned for graduate school a decade later, seeing how UNH valued AmeriCorps alumni was very inspiring. The partnership is helpful because I know that my service is acknowledged and appreciated by the school, and this gives me a lot of pride in both."

Billy faced challenges balancing his time and setting priorities between work, school, service, and family. Still, he is abundantly grateful for all those who supported him, especially his wife, Cassidy. Looking back, Billy also credits his mother as a role model for returning to school as an adult learner. 

"I found my mom’s determination to pursue education while working multiple jobs to be really inspiring. Her example taught me that education is attainable and important at any stage of your life."

Putting His Education to Work

One aspect of the online M.S. Leadership program that Billy truly appreciated was the ability to put the lessons learned from class assignments and research into practice. Leading Teams (LD804) was an especially impactful course  

blonde middle aged man with beard wearing a tan jacket standing in a kitchen

"My team would tease me about testing theories out on them, and they were right! Together, we tried new approaches and implemented proven strategies. I could see the benefits of my coursework immediately. " 

Today, Billy serves as the Chief Impact Officer for Austin Habitat for Humanity. His life has come full circle as he encourages and inspires those with “more aspiration than construction experience” to grow personally and professionally in fulfillment of Habitat’s important mission.  

"I moved here from New Hampshire in 2009 to join AmeriCorps. What I thought would be an 11-month stint has turned into my home. I have worked on the construction, volunteer engagement, client services, and senior leadership teams. I truly enjoy setting a vision, clearing a path, and setting my team members up for success. But what I love most is that I still get to build."

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