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Community Builders: Lori Holt Pfeiler

Community is one of National University’s six core values. Many of our graduates are involved in community and non-profit organizations as leaders and volunteers. They welcome involvement from fellow alumni and provide a valuable opportunity to network, contribute and give something back. Community Builders is a new column profiling people from the National University community who encourage all of us to participate and make a difference.

Residents of Escondido, California may best know National University alumnus Lori Holt Pfeiler (BBA, 1991) as their mayor from 1998 to 2010.

Some may recall her as a board member of North San Diego County Transit, or as chair of the San Diego Association of Governments, but most everyone who has worked with Pfeiler will agree that she has a passion for bringing people together and working for the betterment of the community.

In 2012 Pfeiler was named executive director of the San Diego Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that reinvigorates distressed neighborhoods by constructing new homes or repairing or remodeling older ones for veterans and low income families with help from corporate donations and volunteer labor.

“Affordable housing in Southern California has always been an issue,” says the former mayor. Despite the growth of a highly skilled workforce and an emphasis on high-paying high tech jobs, there remains a significant demand for low income labor in the regional economy, she says.

With proper planning and investment, Pfeiler believes that working families can form the core of revitalized communities and fuel upward mobility while lowering crime and increasing property values. “We help to create neighborhood responsibility and accountability,” she adds

Through Habitat for Humanity, partner families purchase new or repaired homes through no-profit and no-interest mortgage loans. Pfeiler works locally with close to 2,500 volunteers, major sponsors and banks looking to allocate community reinvestment dollars.

“We can do a lot with $15,000 and 15 volunteers per day,” she says.

The people who volunteer for Habitat for Humanity come from all walks of life. You may meet a retired carpenter, an electrician, a company CEO or even a former President of the United States. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have been involved with the non-profit organization since 1984, and can still be found up on a rooftop on any given weekend.

“The Carters model that at even in our 90s we can still make a very big impact on somebody’s life,” says Pfeiler.

To volunteer or find out more about Habitat for Humanity in San Diego, go to If you know of a National University alumnus who is involved and making a difference in their community, please contact Hoyt Smith at