We’re excited to head into 2019 with three new Board members and one renewing member: Shelly Richardson, Carl Wolf, Dottie Johnson, and Kelli Harsch (pictured from left to right above). All of our Board members are motivated by their desire to strengthen their communities, though they tackle the issues of affordable housing and homelessness through many different approaches—in this case, as a lawyer, community organizer, financial officer or otherwise.
In the spirit of the New Year, we asked our incoming Board members to reflect on why they’re drawn to work in affordable housing and what they hope to see changing in 2019 and beyond.
“I have used a voucher from a Housing Authority in the past and was going to have that voucher taken away from me illegally,” shared Shelly Richardson, Executive Director at the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois. “This would have left me, as a single mother with two children, without a home. I went into immediate advocacy mode and was able, with the help and advice of others, to save my voucher, along with the vouchers of hundreds of other people.”
She began working at IMPACT Center for Independent Living, where she “saw firsthand the lack of decent, safe, affordable, and accessible housing across the state. This made the advocacy fire within me grow larger as I sought to remedy this problem. This fire still rages within, and this is why I serve.”
Carl Wolf, Executive Director at Respond Now, described his broader commitment to change when asked about the motivation behind his work.
“I do the work out of a commitment to be a part of creating a better world and to be in brotherhood with others,” he told us. “We would all be better off we lived in a world that took the needs of people first. I try to do a small part of that through my work at Respond Now and as being a member of Housing Action’s Board.”
Housing Action Illinois was fortunate to have Dottie Johnson as our accountant for a while, and now we’re excited to have her join us as a Board member. “I have worked with Housing Action Illinois as a consultant for many years and am pleased that I can continue to support the organization and its mission through board service,” she explained. “Housing Action Illinois’ mission and the work provided ensure that affordable housing options continue to be addressed and heard at the local, state, and federal level.” Dottie is the Chief Financial Officer for Chicago Commons, a nonprofit that has partnered with families and communities to overcome poverty and discrimination for more than 120 years.
Kelli Harsch, Partner at Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen, is renewing her commitment to serve as a Board member. “A foundational belief I hold is all people, regardless of their life circumstances deserve a safe place to call home. I am proud to support and advocate for organizations like Housing Action Illinois who are on the ground doing the hard work to help effectuate this belief.”
We are likewise proud and grateful to be able to partner with such spirited, experienced, and compassionate individuals to advance our mission and protect the right to affordable, fair housing for all.