Director of Advocacy and Community Organizing at Open Communities
Brendan Saunders grew up in Lake Villa, Illinois, and attended Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, to study Social Work. After graduating from Wartburg College, Brendan joined the Peace Corps, and served by teaching English in Morocco. On returning to the States, Brendan relocated to Boston where he spent four years working with the homeless, followed by relocation to Chicago to continue working with this population. While working with homeless adults, Brendan began to realize that people remain homeless for extended periods because of the lack of affordable housing. This realization prompted Brendan to study Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). While at UIC, Brendan worked as the Social Services Coordinator for the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing. At the present time, Brendan works at Open Communities as the Director of Advocacy and Organizing where he focuses on tenant organizing and affordable housing advocacy. In this position he has had the opportunity to form the Landlord Tenant Project, a gathering of landlords, tenants, and municipalities, to address issues in rental housing; he organized the residents of Sunset Village, a mobile home community in Glenview, Illinois; and he was able to organize advocates to pass Source of Income protection in Cook County, Illinois. Brendan sits on the Board of Directors of both the Metropolitan Tenants Organization and the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance. Brendan Saunders is a true advocate and effective organizer grounded in the advancement of social justice. Tonight, we are honored to present Brendan with the Barbara Grau Housing Advocate award for his tremendous contributions in the area of affordable and accessible housing.