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A Note From Mary Ellen

Mary Ellen Ball

To Our Open Communities’ partners, friends, and clients,

Over the next few months, I will be slowly transitioning out of my role as the CEO while helping the Board of Directors look for their next leader. I will be transitioning back to running my consulting and coaching business, The Open Delta Group, which will allow me to focus on leadership and organizational development for individuals and organizations throughout the country.

I started with Open Communities three years ago and walked into the longest government shutdown in history. After catching our breath and strategizing our move forward, we woke up to a global pandemic. And through all of this, our Board of Directors and the staff of Open Communities never wavered. They never lost sight of our mission. They kept showing up.

Over the last three years, we more than doubled our staff and broke a $1M budget for the first time in the agency’s history. We grew to meet the overwhelming need of landlords and tenants to protect and promote fair housing throughout the North Shore and Northwestern Suburbs.

The team grew professionally and personally, learning that we must give more grace, get comfortable with discomfort, and stay accountable to ourselves and each other.

Open Communities is in a very different place than it was three years ago. When I finally paused long enough to breathe, I knew Open Communities was ready for a new leader to take it to the next level.

Solving our nation’s greatest challenges is not simple. It is not black and white. It is nuanced. It is complicated. The distribution of power, decision-making, and lack of equity are still issues that plague us. Yet every day, our team chips away at solutions to change one small corner of our community. And these folks, they deserved to be included in the celebration of front-line workers. We must continue to support and celebrate our healthcare workers, educators, municipal workers, delivery drivers, and grocery clerks. Keep space and gratitude for our social workers, housing counselors, and community advocates. They keep families housed. They keep families together.

Open Communities will celebrate our 50th birthday next fall, September 2022. While my time leading Open Communities is ending, this is just the beginning of the next exciting chapter. May the next 50 years be full of real progress towards equity, giving voice to those that have been ignored, and learning from the pain of the past.

I love this organization. I love this team. I live and breathe this mission. I will always be the loudest cheerleader. I am not leaving Open Communities. I am merely handing over the privilege of leading this group. I am deeply grateful for this experience, for the lessons learned, and the opportunity to know each and every one of you.

In partnership,

Mary Ellen Ball



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