Farnsworth takes reins at Wilson Habitat

Tarleton retiring after 5 years

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Elisabeth Farnsworth described her new post as executive director of Wilson Area Habitat for Humanity as her dream job.

“I’m excited about the good things we can do and the difference we can make in lives,” she said.

Farnsworth has been marketing and education director for the Arts Council of Wilson since 2013. She said current director Hal Tarleton, who is retiring, has done a great job in the role, and she hopes to use her marketing and public relations skills to build on the work he has done.

Habitat broke ground on a home in Saratoga earlier this month. Farnsworth said she can use that as a rallying point to bring people in to volunteer.

“I would like to get young professionals involved and build on the good things that are already there,” she said.

In her job search, Farnsworth looked for a position that involved public service and doing good things for the community. She said she had that at the Arts Council of Wilson and is glad she can continue those goals at Habitat.

Farnsworth, who has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and promotion from East Carolina University, said she will miss many things at the Arts Council.

“I love marketing,” she said. “My efforts here helped people of Wilson take advantage of opportunities we have here.” She said the results gave her motivation and inspired her to do a better job.

Farnsworth, an artist herself, will continue teaching art classes in the Visual Arts Academy.

“That’s a real big part of who I am,” she said, adding she also plans to volunteer for the Arts Council.

“My commitment to the arts is not lessening,” she said. “I’m just not a staff member.”

Farnsworth, a native of Brookhaven, Mississippi, moved to Wilson in 2009 and has been involved in numerous organizations.

She is a member of the Wilson Family YMCA Board of Directors and has served on the Wilson Healthcare Foundation of Wilson Pink Ladies Executive Committee and the Wilson Chamber of Commerce Diamond Dip Committee. She served as secretary of the Wilson Active Artists Association and on the Arts Council Board of Directors and the Wilson Medical Center Auxiliary Board. She was president of the Wilson Medical Society Alliance and chaired the Wilson Medical Society Alliance Health Fair from 2009 to 2012.

Farnsworth, who has three children, will begin her job on July 1. Her predecessor will be training her, she said, and retire after the training is complete.

Tarleton has served as Habitat’s executive director since 2012 and is the affiliate’s longest-serving full-time executive director. He is also a former member of the Habitat board.

Tarleton said its been a career highlight and honor representing Habitat for Humanity.

“This job has allowed me to combine a great service for low-income families with my religious beliefs — ‘seeking to put God’s love into action,’ as the Habitat mission statement says.

“It has been rewarding to see families get decent housing for the first time in their lives or to see them pay off their Habitat mortgages. It has also been frustrating to struggle to raise money or to deal with foreclosures.”

During his tenure, Wilson Area Habitat completed two new houses and “recycled” a third house by putting a new family into a home vacated by the previous Habitat owner. He began a limited home repair program, initiated an annual Habitat Roast fundraiser, held three Art at the ReStore auctions and recently began construction on the organization’s first home outside the Wilson city limits.

Tarleton came to Wilson in 1980 as managing editor of The Wilson Daily Times and remained at the paper until 2008. He and his wife, Ginny, will remain in Wilson. He plans to volunteer with Habitat.

lisa@wilsontimes.com | 265-7810