Making A Difference

A Decent Place to Live

Tjada D’Oyen McKenna (MBA 2002)

Tjada D’Oyen McKenna (MBA 2002) is chief operating officer of Habitat for Humanity International. In this interview she talks about the critical importance of providing decent housing for people around the world.

“I have the privilege and honor of being the chief operating officer of Habitat for Humanity International. What attracted me there was this very simple and radical notion we have that everyone deserves a decent place to live.

“If you think about it, home affects where you go to school, your education prospects. It affects your health––it can actually make people sick. It affects where you work. Your access to things. How safe you feel. So, home is really at the center of development and being able to live a happy, flourishing life.

“Being able to work with Habitat, so that we can serve more families around the world, has just been a great honor and privilege for me. We operate in over 1,300 communities in the US and over 70 countries worldwide.

“My job is to make sure that we're preparing and executing programs that really serve people who live in ineffective housing; that we have the resources we need to do that; and that we also are actively working to advocate for housing in the public realm, as well as just running as efficiently as we can.

“I spent the last 10 years before Habitat working on rural poverty and rural hunger, which largely centers on agricultural development. Most of the poorest people in the world live in rural communities, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

“I believe that, no matter where someone's born, no matter where they live, they should have the ability to live a thriving and successful life. My work has really been centered on helping people meet their basic needs, that they can pursue their dreams and live the life that God intended them to live.”

(Published December 2017)