Little girl on Dad's shoulders

ABOUT
US

We fight for fair housing.

 

We believe that where you live matters, and where you live determines how you live. All communities—especially communities rich in resources and opportunities—must be accessible to all people.

 

Open Communities encourages fair housing practices through education, including landlord-tenant and foreclosure counseling services and community education to make our communities in the north and northwest suburbs of Chicago welcoming for everyone. All of our services are free and include Housing Counseling and Education, Fair Housing Investigations, and Enforcement.

READ A FAIR HOUSING INVESTIGATOR'S STORY.

OUR MISSION

The mission of Open Communities is to ensure that housing in north suburban Chicago is fair and inclusive.

We do this by educating, advocating, and organizing to eradicate housing discrimination, in all of its forms and against all persons, due to race, color, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, disability, familial status, or source of income.

Four small children
 
Fair Housing march in 1965

OUR HISTORY

Open Communities is rooted in the Civil Rights Movement when local women and religious leaders organized the North Shore Summer Project to protest housing discrimination. The group culminated its activities with a rally on the Winnetka Village Green in 1965, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to a crowd of 10,000, his first civil rights rally in an all-white suburb. After a few years of informal collaboration, the North Shore Interfaith Housing Council was formally organized in 1972 by a group of congregations "to provide an ongoing vehicle for the religious expression of concern for more inclusive communities and the provision of housing for persons of moderate and low incomes."  

 

Over the years that followed, the Council created the North Suburban Housing Center in 1977 to provide supportive services and The Interfaith Housing Development Corporation in 1983 to develop needed affordable housing in the target communities. Upon the retirement in 1986 of founding director Rayna Miller, the Council and the Center merged to form the Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs, combining services and advocacy. The Development Corporation (now Housing Opportunity Development Corporation) remained independent. The organization continued to grow and expand in response to the evolving challenges facing the communities and, in 2012, changed its name to Open Communities.

 

OUR
BOARD

Executive Committee

President  

Carol W. Golder

Marketing Executive and Philanthropist

 

Vice President

Frank Clements

Real Estate and Marketing Professional

 

Treasurer  

Herbert Brenner 

Certified Public Accountant

Member, Northbrook Justice Team And Northbrook Working Families Coalition

Members At Large

Jessica Flores 

Director of Board Relations and Innovation Northwestern University Settlement Assoc.

 

Adam Klingher 

Multifamily Properties Owner Financial Loan Professional

 

Emily Love 

Owner & Attorney, Law Office of Emily Love, P.C.  

 

Erica Page Muhammad 

Housing and Financial Solutions Leader

 

Emily Mueller 

Community Revitalization Planning Specialist

 

Joanne Rogers 

VP of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate

 

Lisa Miceli 

Vice President, Sales at Fleetwood + Miceli Residential 

Katari Henderson

Manager, Treasury At Chicago Transit Authority

Business meeting
 
 

OUR PEOPLE

Our staff is small yet mighty, but our capacity is limited. We make every effort to return all calls and e-mails within 2 business days.

Cheryl Lawrence
CHERYL LAWRENCE

Cheryl Lawrence, JD, has executive-level experience in nonprofit and business sectors. She served as the Executive Director at Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing, one of Illinois' preeminent housing and legal-aid organizations. She is excited to bring her many years of leadership experience to support fair and equitable housing opportunities on the North Shore. She lives in Evanston with her wife and daughter.

Chief Executive Officer

Maurya Delaney

Maurya doesn't miss an opportunity to build a better community. Whether participating in anti-racist diversity training or volunteering in her school community, she is always dedicated to inclusion and helping those in need. She's using her experience as a classroom teacher and her education in community advocacy to support Open Communities with fundraising and grant writing. Maurya lives in Evanston with her amazing family and sweet dog. She aspires to be an avid reader if life would allow the time.

MAURYA DELANEY

Director of Development

Jasemen Hatcher
JASEMEN HATCHER

Jasemen is a force of knowledge, passion, and experience in racial equity in housing and community development. She counsels clients in everything from foreclosure prevention to renters' rights to home finance and runs outreach and education workshops to teach community members about just housing. In addition to an international education, she has held roles in leadership programs in Chicago, working to develop racial equity programs worldwide and volunteering with local political organizations centered on civil rights. Jasemen lives in the South Loop with her son.

Director of Housing Counseling & Education

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DALAL FIHAKHIR

Dalal's experience in advocacy work has cemented her passion for social justice. She strives to support and empower underserved populations. With her educational background in Urban Development and her strong cultural competency, she helps ensure that the efforts of OC reaches community partners and the families in the North Suburbs of Chicago. In her free time, she likes to connect with her friends (the power of a good laugh) and bake (her three children are her best fans). She has lived in four different countries and speaks three languages, and would love to add Spanish to her language skills.

Grants Manager

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ANDREA RAMIREZ

Andrea graduated from Kalamazoo College in 2018 with a double major in Anthropology and Sociology and German studies. Andrea has gained professional expertise while working with nonprofits and communities, and she is thrilled to use that experience and knowledge to push forward OC's mission. She is passionate about advocating and empowering underserved communities and is happy to work with a team that shares her dedication to growth and advancement. Andrea is a dog lover, and she enjoys spending her time in the kitchen cooking meals from all over the world!

Outreach and Communications Coordinator

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KAYLA WILLIAMS

Kayla is a motivated entrepreneur with a passion for learning, motivating, and helping others and global health issues. She has experience working in sales, fundraising, and providing her leadership skills to different companies and organizations. Kayla is passionate about nonprofit work that helps people change their lives.

Housing Counselor

Cody has accepted his mission in life to serve as an advocate of equality and justice for those in need. He brings his experience in community development, government administration, and legal background to our team. Born and raised in Chicago, he is proud to serve the Chicagoland area in housing discrimination, landlord-tenant mediation, and consultations. Cody resides in the South Suburbs of Chicago and spends his free time with his family, exploring the world around them and connecting with people of all backgrounds.

CODY MORRISON

Assistant Director of Housing Counseling & Education

CODY MORRISON

Assistant Director of Housing Counseling & Education

After more than a decade of therapeutic work with youth and families in the mental health sector, Dominic shifted towards the policy and administrative side of social work practice. Inspired by The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein, he decided his passion was in the realm of housing justice, organizing and advocating for the human rights of all people to access safe and affordable housing, free from discrimination. He graduated with a Master's  at the University of Chicago's Crown School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice in June 2021. He joined our team in December of that same year.

DOMINIC VOZ

Fair Housing Associate

DOMINIC VOZ

Fair Housing Associate

Wearing Masks in Office

COVID-19

As Covid-19 continues to affect all of us worldwide, we are doing our part to keep our staff and clients safe here at Open Communities. We are following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) state and local governments and departments of public health.

 

As of January 2022, we are back to working remotely after a brief return to the office. We work with clients over the phone, and we also continue to meet with clients via Zoom. 

 

Sometimes working as a remote team leads to delayed responses. We appreciate your patience and understanding when it comes to our remote setup.