When you read this story you will understand why Neil Hetherington
was named one of Canada’s top 40 under 40 executives. And why he was
selected by me as a Canadian Achiever.
If you measure wealth in dollars and cents, it is unlikely Neil’s name
will ever appear on your radar screen. However, if you measure wealth in
personal achievements and values, Neil will be right up there among
He comes by his moral wealth honestly. His late grandfather General
Arnold Brown was past international leader of the Salvation Army.
Upon gradating from college Neil volunteered with Habitat for Humanity
International, building homes for the homeless in Hungary, Poland and
Uganda. There he saw first-hand the dramatic difference that a simple
decent Habitat home could make for a homeless family. It touched him
Neil returned to Toronto, where he became project manager at Tridel
Construction, Canada’s largest condominium developer. While there he
continued volunteering with Habitat as a fundraiser and nail pounder,
building Habitat homes in the Toronto area.
The Habitat pull was too strong to resist. So in 2000, at age 26, and
with no experience as a company head, he quit his job to become CEO of
Habitat for Humanity, Toronto.
Why the dramatic change?
“Dick,” he told me, “this work is infectious. You have to be
around it to understand it. We all have the ability to do great things
because we all have the ability to serve.”
Neil’s infectious enthusiasm has led to big gains for Habitat, Toronto.
When he joined as CEO in 2000, Habitat, Toronto was building on average
one home every two years. Today, through generous donations and a lot of
very hard work, Habitat, Toronto has a staff of 29 plus an army of
construction volunteers who will build 50 homes this year with a target
of 100 homes annually by 2010.
Who knows how many Neil will be building by his retirement date of
October 1, 2038? He knows the need will still exist and he is dedicated
to filling the need.
That is why Neil Hetherington is another Canadian Achiever.
Read more about him at