Established in 1984, the Lewis Cenker Award is the Greater Atlanta HBA’s most prestigious award honoring an individual’s lifetime achievements and their contributions to the advancement of the housing industry. To symbolize the status of this award, it was named in memory of one of our industry’s icons – Mr. Lewis Cenker who was President of our Association in 1960 & the only member of our HBA to serve as President of the National Association of Home Builders. The 2012 Lewis Cenker Award Recipient is Mark Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald graduated from Northern Illinois University and then University of Denver Law School. He served as a Legislative Assistant in the Washington, DC office of US Senator Peter Dominick (R-CO) working on regulatory, finance and banking issues.
In 1978, Fitzgerald accepted the position of Regulatory Affairs Director in the Government Affairs Division of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in Washington DC. In 1980, he was promoted to Director of Operations for the Government Affairs Division, responsible for the day to day management of the 20 staff members involved in lobbying, political issues, budget and NAHB policy and legislative issues. It was during this time that he had the opportunity to become acquainted and work closely with Atlanta builders such as Coin Campbell, J.D. Caswell and Chuck Edwards.
His success in managing people and issues as well as his in depth knowledge of housing issues caught the attention of then NAHB Executive Vice President Kent Colten, who offered Fitzgerald the opportunity to serve as his Chief of Staff. In this position, Mark was involved in all aspects of both staff and member issues at NAHB. He was a fixture at NAHB Board meetings, conventions and Executive Committee meetings.
In 1988, a group of Atlanta builders approached Fitzgerald about relocating to the south to serve as the Executive Vice President of the Greater Atlanta HBA. Mark and his wife, Lindey moved to Atlanta and never looked back.
As Fitzgerald settled into his new position, he immediately recognized that membership was trending downward. By developing meaningful services and benefits combined with successful membership recruitment and retention programs, Fitzgerald led the HBA to become the largest local HBA in 1995 and later that year, the Atlanta HBA became the largest local in the history of NAHB.
Fitzgerald’s philosophy was simply to provide service and value to the membership. He believed that the Chapters and Councils were the grass roots of the HBA. To meet the changing needs of the membership, Fitzgerald formed several new Councils: the Developers Council, Merchant Builders Council and the 50+ Housing Council. In 1990, the Inner Atlanta Chapter was founded to better serve those builders and associates working in downtown Atlanta.
From regulatory issues to legislative and political affairs, Fitzgerald understood that Government Affairs impacted his members’ ability to earn a living. His leadership in this area resulted in many wins for the association and its members. Some examples include: establishing the Action Fund, filing the lawsuit in DeKalb County regarding regulatory fee which resulted in victory and led to the formation of the Builder Resource Fund.
Fitzgerald was a visionary, fiercely devoted to providing his members with the tools and resources to succeed. He pioneered unique programs and member services including the Homeowner Handbook, Certified Professional Home Builder program, the Partnering Guide, EarthCraft House, the Builder Bookstore and was instrumental in establishing HomeAid Atlanta, the designated charity of the HBA.
In recognition of his contributions, Fitzgerald received the Home Builders Association of Georgia’s Executive Officer of the Year Award in 1994 and in 1997 he was honored as the NAHB Executive Officer of the Year. In 2004, the HBA recognized him with a Lifetime Professionalism Award at the OBIE Awards.
In 2005, after more than 18 years at the helm, Fitzgerald retired from the HBA. He and Lindey moved to their lake house on the shores of beautiful Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, GA. He has offered budget and management assistance to the local HBA in Towns County and has been known to swing a hammer once in a while (with the expert advice and guidance of Barry Burney) for some home improvement and remodeling projects. But most of the time, he can be found boating and enjoying the company of his four wonderful grandchildren, his family and friends.
A charismatic leader, Fitzgerald’s inspired his staff and engaged his membership. Passionately devoted to the mission and goals of the HBA, he served the association with honor and integrity, forming lifelong friendships along the way. The scope and depth of Mark Fitzgerald’s contributions to the housing industry are truly unprecedented.
Join us in congratulating the 2012 Lewis Cenker Award Recipient, Mark Fitzgerald.