Our team is comprised of individuals who are passionate about providing a safe and secure resource to find adequate housing for those who so graciously volunteer their time to helping others.  We invite you to meet them.

executive director

James Purtell is the Founder and Executive Director of The Volunteer Housing Initiative. With a professional background in banking and finance, Jim owned and operated a successful mortgage banking firm for over 30 years and upon its sale has embarked on a career of giving back.  

Jim’s unique work experience in running a multimillion dollar organization - including the financial and managerial aspects, coupled with his philanthropic experience is a perfect fit for an organization like VHI. Over the course of his professional career , Jim has participated in numerous charity events throughout the Northeastern United States.

Jim is the father of three children of college age and enjoys his time on the beach and his travels abroad. He lives just outside the Boston, Massachusetts USA area 

Education: B.A., Harvard University, Cambridge, Ma, 1989
Professional Credentials: Named as one of the 100 Most Influential Mortgage Bankers for 5 consecutive years. Recipient of numerous awards by financial and civic organizations over his professional career.

Robert Ogden is the Director of Development at The Volunteer Housing Initiative (VHI). Rob is tasked with planning, organizing, and directing all of the VHII’s fundraising activities including the major gifts program, annual fund, planned giving, special events and capital campaigns.

Rob’s vast experience in the financial sector, which includes working for Fidelity Investments for the last 15 years, gives him the background and corporate experience required for providing the structure and oversight of VHI’s fundraising activities. . Rob has participated in many charitable events over the years and is excited to lend his corporate experience and professional expertise to the VHI.

Rob currently resides in the seacoast area of New Hampshire and is an avid sportsman. A Division One Soccer player while in college, Rob continues to play soccer albeit in his own words, at a much less competitive level. 

Education: B.S., University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA

Hessel van Leeuwen’s professional experience ties in seamlessly to our organization. As Director of Operations, Hessel is responsible for leading and managing The Volunteer Housing Initiative’s services and programs, and ensuring the strategic plan of the organization is executed efficiently and effectively.   

Hessel brings to VHI unique work qualifications that include a combination of experience in both the hospitality field and the financial field. - experience that melds perfectly into his role as Director of Operations. His organizational skills and logistics expertise is vital for the negotiation and distribution of housing to qualified volunteers and relief workers and to ensure that it is managed at optimal efficiency. Most recently, Hessel was instrumental in planning and implementing logistics at a Ukrainian refugee center in Przemysl, Poland. His system for allocating sleeping arrangements at the center for Ukrainian refugees streamlined the process immensely and assisted in settling refugees into the center at a much quicker rate.

Hessel currently resides in Przemysl, Poland - recently relocating from Stiens, in the Northern part of the Netherlands. He starts his day with meditation and loves a relaxing night with a movie or a night out in town. He fancies himself a mixologist and enjoys making a cocktail or two for his friends (as well himself). 

Education: A.A. Friesland College, Leeuwarden, Netherlands 2012

James Purtell


Robert Ogden


DIRECTOR OF information technology

Hessel van Leeuwen

Lisa Healey-Wood

We are happy to welcome Lisa Healey-Wood as the newest member of our executive team. Lisa has graciously agreed to join us as our Director of Information Technology. She brings with her vast professional experience in finance, IT, and social media and thus is extremely qualified to lead our Information Technology team . Lisa is responsible for all aspects of VHI’s technology and information platforms including website content and our social media content. She has worked for and with a lot of non profit organizations over the years which of course is of huge value to our organization. 

Lisa currently lives in Tucson, Arizona and has recently embarked on an RV adventure that will scan the entire U.S. She is married to her husband Josh and is the proud mom of two adult sons - Cameron and C.J. And, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention her beloved hound dogs Otis and Copper who are traveling with her across the country. Lisa is an avid photographer and enjoys listening to live music and experiencing breweries and wineries.

Education: B.S. Fitchburg State College, Fitchburg, MA 1985.

if we come together for the greater purpose of supporting those who support others, we can change the culture of volunteerism and engage an entirely new demographic of skilled and dedicated people to help support any cause.

- James Purtell