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Habitat for Humanity International announced January 31 that it had fired founder and president Millard Fuller and his wife, Linda.

In a statement, HFH said, "The termination decisions culminate several months of differences between the Fullers and the board over an allegation of inappropriate personal behavior of Millard Fuller toward a now-former female employee, and the Fullers' behavior as the investigation into that complaint unfolded." HFH said there was insufficient evidence to corroborate the complaint, but said Fuller engaged in a "pattern of ongoing public comments and communications … that have been divisive and disruptive to the organization's work."

What is certain is that the events that led to the firing reveal the changing culture of the highly successful housing ministry, and the inability of its charismatic founder to thrive in the environment he helped create.

The Fullers' high-profile departure brings to an end a 29-year effort that started just as dramatically when Millard and Linda stepped away from successful business ventures that had made them millions, sold everything, and with the money began Habitat for Humanity. The organization has become the world's largest nonprofit housing organization, and has provided safe, decent, and affordable shelter to 750,000 people in more than 3,000 communities.

Replay of anguish For Millard Fuller, 70, the current battle with the board is reminiscent of the anguish of the early 1990s, when he was accused by five women of untoward familiarity and was exiled from the Americus headquarters in south Georgia to Atlanta for a year. According to a former Habitat executive, the conflict and recriminations of 1990-1991 left the organization shaken and nearly ended the ...

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February 2005

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