The Housing Authority of Cook County’s new chair, Wendy Walker Williams, presided over her first Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday. The board meeting was held online via Zoom due to ongoing COVID-19 safety concerns. Commissioner Williams was confirmed as chair by the HACC Board of Commissioners during the previous board meeting, held on February 25th.
“Wendy is a passionate believer in opportunities for all, and has spent her career redeveloping communities,” said HACC Executive Director Rich Monocchio. “Her leadership at HACC has been instrumental to our growth and helping our residents live more productive lives. We are excited to continue down our path of building an equitable and opportunity-rich Cook County with Wendy’s continued vision and guidance.”
Wendy Walker Williams is the Executive Director of Community Partnerships with the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement. In this role, Wendy works to ensure community stakeholders are informed and engaged in UChicago’s efforts to provide social and economic opportunities in neighboring South Side communities. Working closely with community leaders and elected officials, Wendy helps create and advance community engagement strategies that build and sustain strong partnerships and connect community stakeholders across the South Side to the University.
An advocate for affordable housing, Wendy has more than 25 years of experience working in nonprofit leadership, civic engagement, land use planning, and community development. As executive director of the South East Chicago Commission (SECC), a nonprofit organization focused on improving the quality of life in the Kenwood, Oakland, Hyde Park, Woodlawn and Washington Park communities, Wendy led a programmatic shift from enforcing building code and tracking crime statistics to strengthening the neighborhoods through economic and community development initiatives.
Earlier in her career, Wendy served as an Assistant Commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Deputy Director of Finance and Administration for Gallery 37, and Senior Program Manager for the Chicago Housing Authority Office of Community Relations and Involvement. She has served on the HACC Board of Commissioners since 2012, when she was appointed to the Board by Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle. In addition to serving as the Board Chair of the Housing Authority of Cook County, she serves as Secretary and Trustee of the Du Sable Museum of African American History, a member of the Board of Directors of ACLU-IL and is active in many national and local civic organizations.
The Board of Commissioners also confirmed Commissioner Polly Kuehl to the position of Vice Chair. Polly Kuehl is currently the Executive Director of Housing and Human Development Corporation, and has worked in the affordable housing area for over 40 years. Commissioner Kuehl brings expertise from the fields of social work, property management, and development. She has been a member of the HACC Board of Commissioners since 2012, having been appointed by President Preckwinkle alongside Wendy Walker Williams.