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.
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.
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 OF DIRECTORS
Carol Golder is a retired marketing professional who is passionate about justice and equality. This passion led her to Open Communities, where she uses her boundless energy to work to make fair and diverse housing a reality in the north and northwestern suburbs. Carol has served on a variety of boards in the area. She resides in Glencoe with her husband, David.
Frank Clements is a retired corporate strategic sales and marketing executive. After moving across the country many times, Frank settled in Skokie, where he started a second career as a real estate investor and manager. Serving on the Open Communities Board allows Frank to combine his professional and personal worlds with working toward fair and just housing for everyone.
Years ago, Herb Brenner came to Open Communities as a Fair Housing tester. He has advocated for affordable housing, created the Northbrook Working Family Coalition, and promoted the Cook County minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances. Professionally, Herb is a CPA who specializes in taxation. He lives in Northbrook with his partner, Patti.
A native of Chicago, Katari Henderson obtained her Bachelor of Science in Business Finance from Alabama A&M University. She provides over 15 years of Financial Industry experience. Katari currently serves as Manager of Treasury for the Chicago Transit Authority. She is elated to be working with an organization that fights against housing inequality and helps provide guidance for housing security. Katari enjoys traveling with her husband and two boys.
Joanne Rogers, Vice President of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate, has proudly developed and executed strategies to help clients achieve their homeownership goals for nearly 20 years. She understands the significance of buying a home, which is why she loves educating and empowering clients to make sound choices confidently. Joanne is passionate about supporting fair housing initiatives in the Chicagoland area, spending time traveling with family, and hanging out at Gillson dog beach.
Adam Klinger is a real estate professional and president of Greenwood Beach Partners, a boutique investment firm specializing in the acquisition and asset management of class A/B multifamily housing. Adam holds an MBA in Accounting and Finance from the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis and a BA in History from Lake Forest College. Adam has two adult children and lives in Evanston with his wife, Amy, and dog, Lily.
Emily Love has practiced exclusively in immigration and nationality law since 1993. In 1999, she opened the Law Office of Emily Love, P.C., in Evanston. Throughout her career, Emily has collaborated with various local and national nonprofit immigrant and refugee legal services agencies. She has witnessed first-hand how housing discrimination affects immigrants and joined Open Communities to help put an end to it. She lives in Highland Park with her family.
Jessica Flores was born in Mexico City and grew up in Chicago's West Town community. She is a first-generation college graduate with more than fifteen years of leadership experience in the nonprofit social service and education sector. Currently, she is the Director of Innovation, Economic Mobility Partnerships at Feeding America., As a Board member, she looks to continue to center neighbors by supporting the mission to eradicate housing discrimination.
As a North Shore native and Evanston resident for 30+ years, Grace values the diversity that Evanston brings to the North Shore. Grace is a licensed Realtor in the State of Illinois, with Baird and Warner as her brokerage company. She enjoys cooking, hiking, dinners with friends, and traveling in her spare time.
Erica Page Muhammad is a creative living inside a nonprofit management body. She has a wealth of knowledge about the community, housing, and program development, and she uses her expertise to form partnerships that build capacity within organizations, leading to optimum success. She is passionate about fulfilling her dreams in this lifetime and finding happiness in life's simple things.
Emily Mueller is a community development professional who passionately believes in the human right to fair, safe, affordable housing. She holds a Master of Public Policy, and while at the Illinois Housing Development Authority, she designed and subsequently oversaw the Community Revitalization Program. She currently works as Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives at City Colleges of Chicago developing programs that provide equitable access to technological resources for students across the Chicagoland region.
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.
Chief Executive Officer
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.
Anayeli graduated from Northeastern Illinois University in 2019 with a bachelor’s in Justice Studies and a minor in Criminology and Child Advocacy. She gained professional expertise while working and volunteering in nonprofit organizations. In her previous role, she served as a Case Manager working directly with the homeless population connecting them with community resources. Anayeli is passionate about helping those in need and is excited to bring that energy and passion to supporting those in her community of Evanston. Anayeli enjoys traveling and getting to know new places around the world.
Sarah graduated from Northeastern Illinois University in 2019 with a Bachelors of Social Work. She has been working in non-profits for about 4 years, and has gained significant experience in working with individuals and families experiencing housing instability. Sarah has a passion for helping and loves to uplift others to see their strength in the challenging moments of their lives. She is excited to start her journey at OC and be a part of a team that shares the same passion for our community. She loves anything and everything outdoors. Her ideal day is filled with sunshine, live music, and good friends.
Director of Development
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.
Fair Housing Associate
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.
Outreach and Communications
Being born and raised in Evanston in a single parent household, Sean has a deep understanding of housing inequities our community still faces. After graduating from Boston University, Sean used his unique marketing skills and worked with Chance The Rapper as a Marketing Director. Sean is an Innovative Marketing Specialist with a passion for service, ability to adapt and learn new skills, and willingness to always listen first. Conveying a strong passion for development and community outreach with enthusiasm for creating equity for all.
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.
Client Services Coordinator
Sarah Price, JD, considers herself a lifelong learner. She has spent the bulk of her legal career in the non-profit sector: advocating for the rights of individuals who are homeless to meaningfully access their education, representing tenants in eviction cases, and advising individuals with disabilities about their civil rights. Her combined background in education and law fuels her passion for helping people learn about their individual rights and available community resources. She lives in Evanston with her spouse and two children and is thrilled to be working with a team devoted to ensuring fair and inclusive housing in her hometown.
As Covid-19 continues to affect all of us worldwide, we are doing our part to keep our staff and clients safe. We are following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), state and local governments, and departments of public health.
Currently, we are working both remotely and in the office on different days. We can work with clients over the phone, and via Zoom.
Sometimes working as a remote team leads to delayed responses. We appreciate your patience and understanding when it comes to our remote days.