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Former mayor named CEO of Building Industry Association

Lori Holt Pfeiler, was elected to Escondido’s city council in 1992 and again in 1996, and then elected mayor in 1998, 2002 and 2006.

Lori Holt Pfeiler, 63, a former mayor of Escondido, and longtime city council member, and who just completed nine years as CEO of the San Diego affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, was named last week as CEO of the Building Industry Association of San Diego County.

Pfeiler will take the helm of the BIA in July, according to an announcement by the association.

She is the first woman in the organization’s 83 year history to be named to the top position. 

Pfeiler said she brings the practical experience of knowing how hard it is to get a building permit. Her job, she said, is to advocate housing of all types. 

Besides serving as mayor, Pfeiler served as chair of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and chairman of San Diego Region Partners for Home Ownership.

“I believe deeply in the transformative power of housing, and the ripple effects it has,” Holt Pfeiler said. “I have seen the success a stable home can provide a family – for generations. As the new leader of the BIA, I look forward to putting my efforts to work to influence change that helps create thousands of homes in our region at all income levels. Improving the supply of housing and advocating for efficient and effective changes in the building process are important steps I’ll pursue. My affordable housing expertise will complement the work of traditional home builders, with the ultimate goal of making our region an even better place for families and business.”

Holt Pfeiler replaces retiring CEO Borre Winckel, who led the BIA for 13 years. Holt Pfeiler starts July 6.

Tackling the region’s housing affordability crisis tops her priority list, Pfeiler said, pointing out that across our region homes are built at the high end and the low end and nothing in the middle. That has created numerous problems, including long Riverside County to San Diego County commutes, soaring rents, and forcing seniors to stay in place. 

“The building patterns in our region have created what’s come to be known as ‘The Missing Middle’ and that has created numerous problems for our economy and the people who live here,” Holt Pfeiler said. “We have to build more homes for firefighters, young families, nurses, teachers, first-time homebuyers, seniors, and others. If we don’t, we will continue to see families and jobs driven out of San Diego.”

Holt Pfeiler is well-positioned to help the region tackle its housing crisis, said Alex L. Plishner, Board Chairman of the BIA. “She brings years of government, non-profit and housing experience to the job. Her impressive resume is highlighted by numerous leadership positions,” he said.

“Lori is a true visionary and a collaborator. She has a deep understanding of the affordable and middle-income housing issues our region faces, and how to create more housing options for all San Diegans,” Plishner said. “These experiences, along with an infectious enthusiasm for progress, make Lori the perfect leader to help solve our region’s housing affordability crisis, and the ideal role model for the BIA’s 700+ member companies.” 

Her housing experience includes creating more homes for more people at all price points. She’s done that by securing City Council approvals, approving infrastructure projects, and actually pulling building permits with local government agencies.

Holt Pfeiler has excellent relationships with community leaders and housing advocates like Ricardo Flores, executive director of LISC San Diego, a nonprofit dedicated to creating healthy sustainable communities by providing financing and management assistance to affordable housing developers. 

“I am excited for Lori and the BIA and the opportunity her leadership will bring to our region as we continue to struggle to provide safe and affordable housing to all families,” Flores said. “Now more than ever we need smart, strong and thoughtful leadership taking on important issues like housing construction and Lori is absolutely the right person at the right time to tackle our region’s toughest housing issues. She will bring people together. She will create positive change. She will create more homes for more people.” 

Stephen Russell, President and CEO of the San Diego Housing Federation, said: “The selection of Lori Holt Pfeiler as President and CEO is an extraordinary choice for the BIA. Lori is well known for her deep commitment to housing for all San Diegans and for serving as a bridge-builder toward shared goals. Having worked with Lori for many years, I know her heart and I know her mind, and I am excited to work with her in this new role.”

Andrea Petray, board chairman of San Diego Habitat for Humanity, said: “This is a bittersweet moment for us at Habitat. Our organization has made significant strides in the last nine years under Lori’s leadership. We have provided opportunities for affordable homeownership to local families in need of improved housing, revitalized neighborhoods, and performed critical repairs for seniors and veterans. Lori leaves Habitat well-positioned for continued success. We know Lori’s passion for finding solutions to housing challenges will serve the BIA – and our community – very well.” 

Holt Pfeiler said: “It’s hard to say goodbye to Habitat, as I have loved every minute of my last nine years there, building side-by-side with a hardworking team that has accomplished so much, but I am looking forward to creating positive change with the BIA.”

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