News Brief

Leadership Transition as Healthy Building Network Grows

HBN founder Bill Walsh will shift to heading strategic development as president of the nonprofit, while affordable housing leader Gina Ciganik becomes CEO.

HBN’s new leadership team, clockwise from upper left is: Bill Walsh, president; Gina Ciganik, CEO; Susan Sabella, COO; Larry Kilroy, CTO.

Photos courtesy HBN
The Healthy Building Network (HBN), a national nonprofit known for advocating for getting toxic chemicals out of buildings and building materials, has announced a leadership transition.

Bill Walsh, who founded the organization in 2000, is passing executive leadership responsibilities to Gina Ciganik as CEO. Walsh isn’t going anywhere: he will serve as president of the board and continue working full time at HBN, where he’ll head up strategic thinking and collaborations for HBN and will do more to get HBN’s message out publicly. In addition, Larry Kilroy is taking on the role of chief technology officer, while Susan Sabella remains chief operating officer.

Walsh credits the organization with helping bring “health from a niche to a central issue” in the building industry, he told BuildingGreen. “We have never had more opportunities, more demand for our time and services,” he said.

According to Walsh, the organization has doubled in size in recent years to 14 staff people, and he hopes to attract larger sources of funding and grow further. “We are preparing ourselves to lead the coming large-scale transformation in the way that products are made, which will be driven by radical transparency, open innovation, and a commitment to environmental justice,” Walsh said in an official announcement.

Ciganik joined HBN in 2015 and piloted the organization’s focus on healthy materials in the affordable housing sector, including through its HomeFree initiative. Previously, she worked for 18 years at Aeon, the Minneapolis-St. Paul area affordable housing developer, most recently as vice president of housing development. Notably, she led development of The Rose, a 90-unit apartment in downtown Minneapolis that set a new standard for material vetting use in affordable housing.

Ciganik’s work at HBN has been motivated by “finding solutions that everyone can access,” says Ciganik. Through projects like the Rose, and work through HBN in supporting similar projects around the U.S., Ciganik hopes to spur market transformation. Someday, “no one will be able to use the excuse that they can’t find healthy, high-performing material” that’s affordable, she told BuildingGreen. “Someday, doctors will be able to write a prescription for a healthy place to live as a way of healing,” she predicts.

Published July 6, 2016

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