Former Neel-Schaffer executive Slade Exley and his wife presented with prestigious Habitat for Humanity award

Slade Exley, PE, retired from Neel-Schaffer over eight years ago, but in many ways he is still a part of the company – and the firm is still very much a part of him.

He said lessons learned during 38 years working alongside Neel-Schaffer President/CEO Hibbett Neel, PE, are ingrained in him. “Hibbett had such an influence on me in terms of volunteering and being active in the community and giving back,” said Slade. “That’s such a big part of what our company is about.”

That influence has led Slade to many volunteer positions over the years, including 25 years with Habitat for Humanity’s Mississippi Capital Area (HFHMCA).

Recently, Slade and his wife Susan were honored by HFHMCA for their years of service when they were presented with the Elise Winter Founders Award.

“That was certainly a great honor,” said Slade, who is far right and next to Susan in the above photo. “We were not seeking it or expecting it, but we are very appreciative of it. Susan has been a great help, especially the last two years. It was about two years ago when HFHMCA decided to start a Habitat Restore, which is a Habitat-branded facility where we accept donations of building materials and household goods then turn around and sell them to raise funds to operate the ministry.

“We committed to doing that and Susan has been a really big part of making that work. She advertises donated items on Craig’s list, she takes other items to other resale stores around town. That’s where she fits into Habitat.”

Where Slade fits in with Habitat is just about everywhere. He’s most comfortable with a hammer and nails – “Being an engineer, I like to build stuff,” he said – but he has worked equally as hard as a Board member. He is finishing a two-year stint as President of the HFHMCA Board of Directors that coincided with the first worldwide pandemic in a century.

“He has led us through what has been the hardest years this affiliate has faced, for which we are eternally grateful,” said Merrill McKewen, HFHMCA’s Executive Director. “But when you get Slade, you also get Susan. Together, they make quite a team. They have worked on sites and in our warehouse. The selection committee felt strongly that we would not have a Restore without the tireless work of the Exleys.

“They embody what the Elise Winter Founders Award is all about – visionary leadership, dedicated commitment, and ‘Love in Action.’”

Elise Winter founded HFHMCA 35 years ago. When she died in July of this year, McKewen praised her, saying she “breathed life into Habitat’s ministry,” and pointed out that “more than 2,500 adults and children in the Mississippi capital area wake up every morning in a Habitat home. Her involvement with Habitat has also afforded thousands of Mississippians the opportunity to give back to their communities and to their fellow citizens through one of the nation’s most effective not-for-profit organizations.”

Count Slade and Susan among those who have given back and helped HFHMCA build more than 650 homes since its founding.

Congratulations to Slade and Susan!