Chief Development Officer
Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Industry: Affordable Housing
Kathryn Fernandez joined Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia six years ago and embraced the vision of the organization right away, aiming to build teams, systems, processes and the organization’s profile to expand the impact of affordable housing in Philadelphia.
Through Fernandez’s leadership as chief development officer, philanthropic support for Habitat has doubled, and she has been instrumental in unlocking significant multiyear investments from renowned institutions such as Wells Fargo, Morgan Properties and the William Penn Foundation, the nonprofit said. Fernandez’s financial acumen and commitment to stewarding every donated penny have earned donor confidence and propelled Habitat Philadelphia’s growth, the organization said.
“In preparation to launch our first multiyear fundraising campaign, our consultants prepared a feasibility study,” Fernandez said. “The study provided a fundraising goal that was expected to be successful. However, in order for the organization to reach its goals to build and repair more homes for families in need of affordable housing solutions, I recommended a 60% increase over those results for our intended goal. Despite not having an institutional history of campaign success, it was critical that we raise these funds to do the work we knew our community needed. Not only did we reach the increased goal, but we exceeded it. When given the opportunity to set the bar high, people often exceed expectations in the most inspiring ways.”
Habitat Philadelphia has launched initiatives like the Women Build and the House to Home project, which have expanded the organization’s reach and influence. Fernandez has also spearheaded successful fundraising campaigns, including transitioning the annual signature event to a virtual space in 2020 and launching the Habitat Day of Giving. These initiatives shattered fundraising goals and positioned Habitat Philadelphia as a thought leader in the development and fundraising landscape among nonprofits in Philadelphia, the nonprofit said.
Fernandez participates in Habitat’s mission by physically contributing her sweat equity to build and repair homes in Philadelphia, Colombia and Guatemala.
A first-generation college graduate, she earned a Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
Fernandez was honored as one of Philadelphia Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, and she attributes her success to her team, which has grown from seven to 15 associates.
“In November 2022, Habitat Philadelphia surpassed the 1,000th home it built or repaired in the city, 37 years after its founding,” the nonprofit said. “Habitat will reach the next 1,000 homes in 2027. That is the impact that Kathryn Fernandez has had on Habitat Philadelphia. Her commitment to the organization’s mission, vision and the homeowners in the program have fueled Habitat’s growth and has quite literally turned into more homes for more families throughout the city.”
When not raising money for Habitat or volunteering for other causes close to her heart, Kathryn brings the same drive and determination to a competitive ultimate Frisbee league in Philadelphia