Kenneth Bensen was born in Thief River Falls, Minn., in 1937. He was raised in Iowa, which is where he discovered his passion for helping people. After graduating from high school, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in education from Bethel College. In 1965, he earned a Master of Divinity degree from North Park Theological Seminary and in 1980 a Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Ill.
In his more than 40 years as a minister, he has served five churches in Arizona, Illinois and Michigan. Twenty years into his ministry he took a job with a Chicago area Habitat for Humanity affiliate – which changed his life.
Throughout his time involved in Habitat for Humanity, he twice directed Habitat for Humanity Jimmy Carter Work Projects, developed national Habitat State Support Organization policy and helped to lead an international movement that has sparked social change in the utmost positive way – helping people help themselves by building affordable homes that have provided homeownership to hundreds of thousands across the globe. His greatest accomplishment has been developing Habitat for Humanity Michigan from nothing, and to date, to help spur construction of more than 3,500 homes, impacting more than 14,000 lives, which is a true testament to the power of volunteers.
Ken was a part of developing the Habitat Prison Build Program with the Michigan Department of Corrections, developing a public/private partnership between Habitat for Humanity Michigan and Michigan State Housing Development Authority and helped to raise more than $35 million for Habitat affiliates across the state. Ken also helped lead the creation of the “Living Michigan Coalition,” a group of non-profit and for-profit organizations formed to encourage the State to fund a Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund.
Beyond Michigan, he has helped to lead an international movement that has sparked social change in the utmost positive way – helping people help themselves by building affordable homes that have provided homeownership to hundreds of thousands across the globe. Ken has worked closely with Habitat for Humanity organizations in Armenia, Philippines, Brazil, Romania and Thailand. He helped develop the yearly 40 house Lenten Build in Mexico and the yearly 37 House Build in Armenia. In addition to his CEO role with Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, he has served as the Ecumenical Officer for Habitat for Humanity International. In this role he represented Habitat to the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches and Christian Churches Together.
Ken is the first to tell you that without the thousands of statewide volunteers and dedicated staff, Habitat for Humanity would not be what it is today in Michigan.