Ron Terwilliger’s outstanding career and legacy didn’t end when he retired from Trammell Crow, it only grew.
Coming from a low-income family with little expectations of wealth, he wanted to give back and affordable housing seemed to be the most natural place for his philanthropic interest to bloom.
“As I started to get wealthy in my late forties and fifties, I began thinking: what should I do with my time and wealth?”
From his $100 million legacy gift to Habitat for Humanity, chairing Habitat’s international Board and the Enterprise Community Partners board to name a few, Ron gives generously of his money, time, and expertise.
While he is very active in the private sector, his role in the public sector has made a serious impact. After being invited to give a lecture at Harvard on Housing Policy in America, he became inspired by the great Shortage of affordable housing in this country. He characterized this shortage as a housing crisis formed a foundation and started meeting with senators and congressman to change federal housing policies and transform the system.
He shares how he has found that unfortunately, the time and resources that the government have devoted to this crisis have been scarce, and housing affordability has not been given the attention and effort it deserves and needs.
“The bottom line to me with this growing shortage of affordable workforce housing is the way we are going to address itis by providing more creative subsidies for construction and more income subsidy. I’m pleased to see that some of the state’s Governors as well as mayors of major cities are paying attention.”
When people hear “low-income housing” or “affordable housing,” they often mistakenly think of people who are unemployed or aren’t working. Ron has opted to call it “affordable workforce housing,” however, as it is actually our nurses, firefighters, and policemen who fall into this category and often have to make a serious commute to work because they can’t afford to live close to their job.
The Importance of Leadership
Ron believes strongly in the importance of selfless, kind, generous leaders who people trust. These were the types of leaders he tried to attract at Trammell Crow, and he credits their ability to give honest feedback and work hard for creating a “utopia-like” work environment.
Two great CEO’s who inspire him and who he works with closely today are Jonathan Reckford at Habitat for Humanity and Terri Ludwig at Enterprise.
Ron serves on 11 boards and is actively engaged in offering advice, money, and time. He admits that initially as he entered philanthropy, he was embarrassed to talk about how much he gives away, but he has been encouraged that by telling others about his philanthropy it will inspire others to give generously of their time and talent.
Find something to do that you really love. Discover the breadth of real estate, see where you can fit, and don’t be afraid to change roles or direction as necessary to do what you want.
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