Mary Ellen Poole, Executive Director

Mary Ellen came to Housing Options on July 1, 2015 with over 13 years of experience in the affordable and supportive housing field. She worked as Chief Operating Officer for 6 months prior to being promoted to Executive Director.  Prior to joining Housing Options, Mary Ellen was the Housing Planner for the City of Evanston for five years.  At the City, Mary Ellen managed the HOME and ESG federal grant program, as well as the local Affordable Housing Fund.  She staffed the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness as well as the Housing and Homelessness Commission.  Prior to working for the City, Mary Ellen spent three years working for the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA).  Mary Ellen received her BS in Communications from Ohio University and her Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

Board of Directors

Catharine Hamrick, President

Catharine Hamrick became involved with Housing Options almost 25 years ago, when she joined the staff as part-time administrative assistant while working on her graduate degree.  Her commitment to the organization continues today because she sees it as a model for how individuals can come together to change lives and communities, by respecting the dignity of every human being. Catharine is a Communication Consultant at Aon Hewitt. She and her three children live in Evanston.

Randy Usen, Vice President

Randy Usen became familiar with and involved in Housing Options approximately 15 years ago when he became the organization’s officer of account at First Bank & Trust. He attended many of the organization’s various functions over the years.  Randy finds Housing Options to be an effective agency helping those who need housing and supportive services, who may otherwise not be able to live a safe and meaningful life. He became Chairman of the I-WORK Advisory Committee five years ago and subsequently joined the Board. Randy has been in commercial banking for 35 years, and is a Managing Director at First Bank & Trust in Evanston, where he has worked for the past 16 years.

Peter Michaels, Treasurer

Peter Michaels first became aware of the work of Housing Options over two decades ago from a work colleague. He became involved by becoming one of the many volunteers who work on the Committees that support the organization. He later joined the Board and at various times has served as Treasurer and President. All together he has supported Housing Options for 15 years. He finds its mission as vital today as when he first volunteered. Peter works as an investment advisor to pension and 401K plans, and he is a resident of Evanston.

Renee Lanam, Secretary

Renee Lanam was introduced to Housing Options by Claire McCarthy Peterson and joined the Board early 2015.   She comes from a career in law and finance where she worked with start-ups and mid-size companies in Silicon Valley.   She has served on the Board of Mission Hospice in San Mateo, California and started the Friday soup kitchen in Evanston for Interfaith Action.

Claire McCarthy Peterson, Immediate Past President

Since the 1980’s Claire McCarthy Peterson has been an outspoken Evanston advocate on behalf of persons with mental illness and those facing homelessness.   Over 25 years ago she was a founding member of the Housing Options board.  She has served as Chair of various City committees addressing homeless issues and helped author Evanston’s Continuum of Care for the Homeless, which resulted in significant federal support for local housing and intervention programs for vulnerable residents.

John Adamson

Lara Duda

Kathleen Gillespie

Kevin Hopkins

Harvey Saver

Mary Senn

Daniel Smith

Advisory Council

Al Belmonte
Janet Dotson
Dayle Duchossois
Mark Epstein
Naomi Feldman
Ed Fortino
Ellen Rockwell Galland
Larry Gavin
Ed Getz
Debra Hill
Paul Larson
Dorothy Lloyd-Still
Scott Morgan
Carol Mullins
Patricia Reece
Eleanor Revelle
Jeffrey Ross
Angela L. Schwartz
Lynne Simon
Susan Turner
Patricia Vance