Wren won't 'skip away' from Wayne Housing position
Cari Wren said she has no plans to “skip away” from Wayne when she steps down as executive director of Wayne Community Housing Development Corporation at the end of the month.
Wren’s husband, John, recently left his post as commander of Wayne’s Nebraska National Guard unit and took a position as a branch chief at Camp Ashland west of Omaha, and she will be joining her husband there once her duties are complete at the end of the month.
“I didn’t want to leave Wayne, but we own a house in Omaha now so I guess I have to go since my furniture is there,” she joked.
Wren has been executive director of Wayne Community Housing Development Corporation for the last five years and is turning the reins over to Meagan Weaver, who will be able to hit the ground running after previous experience with other local housing nonprofits in the region.
Wren said that she’s happy to be handing the keys over to someone with prior experience in the field, especially since she’s had an opportunity to work with her and help her get acclimated to the new position.
“I’m tickled that I’m leaving this in Meagan’s hands,” she said. “She’s held a similar position before, so it won’t be as big a learning curve for her. When I came in, they hired me the same day as (former director) Della Pries’ last day, so by the time I got started, I came into a voice mailbox blinking and a stack of files on the desk and had to figure it out. She won’t be coming in blind, and that will alleviate a lot of that anxiety.”
Weaver and her husband, Brady, moved their family of four children from Lenox, Iowa to Wakefield a few years ago after her husband transferred between jobs with Michael Foods. She had initially planned to be a stay-at-home mom, but when they had to buy a bigger house than they were planning on buying, she went to work at Northeast Housing Initiative in Allen and later moved to Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPCO) and worked on owner-occupied housing rehabilitation in the Siouxland area.
Weaver said she is excited about being a part of a local non-profit group that helps get people into their first homes, especially one where the area isn’t quite as big as Sioux City’s.
“One of the disadvantages about working at SIMPCO is that you’re spread out so thin,” she said. “We did 75 projects in a year, and it’s hard to feel like you’re making an impact in one community. Here it’s different and more concentrated, and you can really see the impact you’re having on an area, so I’m excited to get going.”
Weaver said she is happy that she’s stepping into a good position, especially with all the work Wren has done over the last several years.
“A lot of the success of this program has a lot to do with the relationships Cari has built with the local lenders, realtors, title and insurance companies in town,” she said. “They’re helping each other and it’s been good to have her kind of ease me into some of these relationships so I won’t be such a stranger to them when I take over.”
“I didn’t get to do that when I came in,” Wren said. “It’s been good to have Meagan here and kind of get her updated on everything that’s going on so it won’t be such a learning curve, and introducing her to our clients is also important because it will help alleviate some of that anxiety for those first-time homeowners who are already dealing with enough stress with buying a home for the first time.”
Wren said she and her husband have lived in the Wayne area for 12 years, and the move to Omaha will be a difficult one for her.
“Missing the people here will be the hardest part,” she said. “We’ve developed a lot of great friendships here and it will be hard to leave those people. It’s bittersweet, and I’ve told people at the Chamber Coffee that I don’t plan on skipping away from this job.”
As for what she’ll do next, Wren isn’t sure about where she’ll work, but she knows what will be high on the to-do list.
“Unpacking boxes,” she said, smiling.