Our Staff

RICK NELSON, executive director

Rick has over 35 years of experience serving non-profits as an executive leader, senior pastor, and consultant in various contexts both domestically and internationally. He has devoted his career to working with people seeking to improve their lives and enjoy their very best possible future, working on behalf of movements focused in the areas of children and families, food scarcity, affordable housing, community building, and cooperative interfaith ventures. In addition to his undergrad degrees in education and communication, Rick has a Master’s  in theology and ministry, as well as a doctorate in leadership.

Rick and his wife, Kristen–a Stearns County girl– enjoy chasing daughter Lucy,15, around to various swimming and musical practices, rehearsals, and events. They love traveling, their faith community, the local music scene, sports of all kinds, theater, and most anything on or near water. Their other five children and seven young grandchildren–great loves of their lives–are scattered around the U.S. and visiting them occupies most every spare moment. “What a privilege it is to serve and lead in a mission, with such a long and sacred history, working on behalf of those seeking their best tomorrow!"

MARIE GERTKEN, administrator

Marie has been working with Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity since 2005, in addition to her work with several local small businesses.  She has expertise and over two decades of experience in bookkeeping and administration.

Marie lives in Avon, less then 10 miles from the farm that she grew up on in central Stearns County.  She enjoys being back in a small rural community after living in Minneapolis and St. Cloud.  She enjoys gardening, reading, hiking, and traveling throughout the United States.

JESSICA DAHL, volunteer coordinator

Jessica is the newest member of our team, joining us in 2020 after spending several years managing a corporate volunteer program and administration team in the Twin Cities. She is excited to dedicate her professional life to the Habitat mission and loves connecting volunteers with opportunities to contribute to the communities they live and work in.

Jessica and her husband, Nate, live in Sartell and relocated to the area from Hudson, WI a few years ago.  They have two daughters that keep them busy, but in their spare time they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, being active, and testing out new recipes in the kitchen.  Jessica also has a passion for home remodeling and design, so you'll likely find her planning their next project in her free time.

EILEEN BITZAN, client and homeowner services

Eileen has served for 13 years with area nonprofit organizations in roles such as as program director, outreach coordinator, and volunteer coordinator. Prior to that, she worked as an administrator in student development at the College of St. Benedict. Eileen has three adult children and enjoys biking, hiking, and reading in her free time.

ART BUHS, construction manager

Art has been building for 47 years and operated a successful residential homebuilding business for 27 years. He also previously served on the CMHFH Board of Directors and Construction Committee. Art enjoys spending time with his wife, their three sons, and 8 grandchildren. He and his family stay busy managing several small businesses.

KRIS LEHMAN, faith and donor relations

Kris Lehman joined Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity in August 2011.  Having worked as the Missions Coordinator at Atonement Lutheran Church, her connections with local churches and non-profits have been helpful to her in her role.

Social justice, advocacy and compassion for the homeless, hungry and marginalized are important to Kris. She appreciates that Habitat empowers families and provides a long-term sustainable solution, through affordable homeownership.  She holds a bachelors degree in Elementary and Phys Ed from Concordia College in Moorhead, and enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading, walking, biking, and volunteering. She and her husband Greg have three adult children.

JESSICA MACY, office manager

Jessica's background is in accounting and analysis, and she is excited to apply that experience at Habitat. The core values of partnership and empowerment resonate especially well with her desire to see people come together in the community.

Jessica lives in Sauk Rapids, and enjoys reading, knitting, and spending time with friends and family.

FUNWI TITA, donor and community relations

Funwi joined our Habitat team in December of 2018 and works closely with our donors, business partners, local vendors, grants, and media. His work background includes a strong non-profit experience both domestically and internationally. Funwi loves meeting and serving alongside all people, and is passionate about our mission. His enthusiasm is contagious, and his many life stories are fascinating.

Funwi and his young family have lived and worked in our service area for years, coming to this country over 15 years ago to earn his college degree. He remains most entertained and amused by the wonderful features of our winters—not.