CEO adds to nonprofit organization with years of banking experience.

CEO adds to nonprofit organization with years of banking experience.

Bruce Luecke joined the board of Homeport because he liked the way the nonprofit organization built communities.

The now-retired Nationwide Bank executive was impressed by the "top-notch" quality of the organization's housing as well as its dedication to giving people a foundation for success. "The thing that attracted me with housing is, housing creates stability," Luecke says.

Luecke, who stepped in as interim leader of the organization last year, was named president and CEO of the Columbus-based organization, dedicated to providing affordable housing solutions, in September. He says he hopes to continue Homeport's efforts in transforming lives by building stronger homes.

Homeport, which used to be known as the Columbus Housing Partnership, builds and rehabs rental communities designed for limited-income seniors and families and single-family homes. It has more than 5,700 residents in more than 30 apartment and single-family communities. It was started 30 years ago by local builders and real estate agents who wanted to make quality housing more affordable and achievable, says Bob Weiler, one of the organization's founders.

Homeport plays an important role as the region continues to see population growth and rent rates rise faster than incomes, says Weiler, owner of The Robert Weiler Company.

He's pleased to see Luecke at the helm. "Bruce is going to be a great leader. He brings several attributes which are so important," Weiler says. "He's got the right temperament. He's very calm and organized and thoughtful."

The Columbus REALTORS and local builders along with the city of Columbus, Columbus Foundation, other nonprofits and private businesses continue to support the organization, which has become the largest locally-focused producer of affordable housing and services in the region.

Striving to revitalize neighborhoods, Homeport funds its projects through private investments leveraged by federal tax credits.

Luecke's background in banking will be an asset for Homeport, says Lisa Courtice, executive vice president of the Columbus Foundation. Luecke began his banking career in 1978 working for Citigroup in Chicago. He has held numerous leadership positions in banking and owned a business consulting and coaching firm from 2002 to 2006. "It definitely gives him a leading edge," she says.

His background combined with his dedication to the cause make Luecke an ideal fit for the job, Courtice says. She praises him for his engagement as a board member and says he's even more passionate as head of the organization. "It's pulling at his heart strings in a new way," she says. "He's moved by the need and the role Homeport can play."

In addition to providing housing opportunities, Homeport offers classes and coaching for its clients and the public designed to demystify the home-buying process, teach budgeting skills and help would-be buyers address financial issues. The organization recognizes that providing individuals and families with stable home environments allows them to pursue their dreams and lead a more fulfilled life, Luecke says. When housing issues are addressed, "it changes lives," he says.

Homeport also helps its residents find resources to help them thrive, he says. The organization connects residents with services ranging from employment readiness and school supply drives to family counseling and free produce markets.

One of Luecke's first tasks was to work with his staff and Tony Rucci at the Fisher College of Business to develop a strategic plan for the organization. During the process, the group focused on prioritizing its efforts, he says. "Let's understand what our core purpose is-define what's most important and execute on it," he says.

The process led to changes like the organization looking for partners to take on services that are less aligned with its mission, Luecke says. The change highlights Homeport's intent to hone in on its mission and find partners who are experts at other needed services, he adds.

As CEO, Luecke anticipates looking for ways to grow the organization while remaining attuned to clients' needs. "We're a big organization but we need to grow to continue to do what we do and do it for more people," he says. "We also need laser-like focus on our customers and what do they need."

Melissa Kossler Dutton is afreelance writer.