Glass ceiling smashes as Montague becomes first female president of the Rouse's Enterprise Foundation.

By Daniel Walker Guido

Terri Montague wanted a new challenge. She never thought she'd need a sledgehammer to get it: The former Boston Financial investments director has shattered the glass ceiling in home building­related organizations as she takes over as president and chief operating officer of The Enterprise Foundation in October.

With the current emphasis on the mostly unmet national need for affordable housing, Montague believes the time is perfect for her to take the reins as the first woman president of a major player in the affordable housing market. Having a woman in such a prominent position has been a long time coming for the very staid and traditional home building industry, where women typically get no higher than the director of public relations, marketing, or human resources.

"First on my agenda is to increase the foundation's funding so we can have a much greater impact building affordable housing and publicizing the need for homeownership among those who traditionally cannot afford to buy a house," Montague says.

Having worked in the top echelons of a major regional investment firm, Montague hopes to use her practical experience in business to help the foundation take advantage of funding sources it has not tapped as it works to increase affordable housing around the nation. At Boston Financial she was involved in raising and placing $400 to $500 million annually in investor equity from corporations to build 100 to 120 multifamily projects a year.

Montague will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the community development nonprofit foundation based in Columbia, Md., which helps rebuild low-income communities. With an annual operating budget of $50 million and 235 employees nationwide, Montague will be busy supervising construction of new housing, renovation of existing projects, and managing the establishment of child care, safety, and workforce development in low-income communities.

She will oversee a national network of 1,900 nonprofit organizations in more than 700 locations. In its 19-year existence, Enterprise has raised and committed more than $3.5 billion in equity, loans, and grants to help builders renovate more than 120,000 homes.