An Update on the Executive Director Transition

Dear Growing Home Family,

While we are sad to see Harry Rhodes leave Growing Home and we are grateful for his years of stewardship, we are also excited by the candidates we have reviewed for the position of Executive Director. With the help of our consultant, the Morten Group, we are set to meet with several qualified people who each have a breadth of experience and a passion for our mission.

We are honored by the amount of interest in the position; it speaks to the work we do and the organization that you have helped to build. We will be interviewing our leading candidates in January and plan to have a new Executive Director selected by mid-February.

In the meantime, Growing Home is in good hands. April Harrington, our COO, will serve as our Interim Executive Director while the board moves into the final stages of its search for new, permanent Executive Director.

We are confident that April will provide the continuity, experience and skills to see us through our first quarter. Our executive board, along with Harry and April, have carefully reviewed our needs for the new year, prepped April for a job she is well-qualified for and provided support for the organization as needed.

You will receive an announcement from us when our new Executive Director is selected and we will be excited to introduce you to them in the spring!


Barbara Wallace
Growing Home Board of Directors

A Message From Harry Rhodes, Executive Director

Dear friends,

For the past 17 years I have been honored to call myself Executive Director of Growing Home. This is a fantastic organization that has helped transform hundreds of lives over this period, and is at the heart of an exciting transformation happening in Englewood.    

When I started in this position in October 2001, I was Growing Home’s only staff, and was given a desk in the hallway of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. The Coalition’s Les Brown had a vision: to create vibrant urban farms in Chicago and to use those farms to give people experiencing homelessness a chance to turn their lives around.

Sadly, Les is no longer with us, but his dream lives on through our work. Since we began, over 500 people have worked and trained with Growing Home, and have used the experience of farming to transform their lives. Today, Growing Home is a leading organization in Chicago, with 21 employees and a budding farm campus in Englewood.

 I am especially proud of the work we have done towards turning the Englewood community from a “food desert” into a food destination. In 2006 the urban agriculture district of Englewood began with Growing Home’s Wood St. Farm. We added a 2nd farm in 2011, and have been excited to see additional farms, gardens, cafes and even Whole Foods, spring up in Englewood. Hundreds of people now work in farm and food-related businesses in Englewood.

After much thought and consideration, I have decided to step down as Executive Director by the end of 2018. I am confident that the organization is in a strong position to move forward, with quality, dedicated staff and a Board of Directors that is committed to its growth and success. I am sure that new leadership and fresh ideas will be good for Growing Home.

I am in the process of considering opportunities, and will let you know when I have a clear path forward. I am planning on staying in the Chicago area and continuing to be involved in organizations committed to social justice.

The Board of Directors is leading the search for my replacement (see Board Statement). I will continue as Executive Director through the end of the year to make sure that this transition is a smooth one.

I believe in Growing Home, and all that we stand for. I will continue to be involved with Growing Home and support its work in the future. It has truly been a privilege and an honor to work with such an amazing organization, and such wonderful people. I have learned from each of the individuals we’ve trained, and from the many colleagues and friends I have met over this period.

Thank you so much for supporting my work, and for your partnership with Growing Home. I have enjoyed working with each and every one of you. I couldn’t have done all of this without you.

Gratefully yours,

Harry Rhodes

"The passing of Growing Home's founder, Les Brown, prevented him from witnessing it develop into what it has become today. Growing Home is recognized locally, nationally, and even internationally as a model in workforce development and a positive influence on community health. Much of the credit for this must go to Harry Rhodes, our Executive Director for the past seventeen years. His dedication, hard work and leadership have guided this organization and made it one of which Les would be extremely proud."

Diana LeiferWife of Les Brown

A Message From Our Board President

Dear Growing Home Family,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Growing Home, I want to express our gratitude to Harry Rhodes for his many years of fruitful service to the organization. As our first and only Executive Director to date, Harry has built the organization from a wonderful idea to a thriving, productive institution, and he will be missed. Before Harry’s departure, we will make sure to provide opportunities for us all to celebrate his leadership and many accomplishments.

Harry will leave Growing Home in a strong position, poised for the next phase of its growth.  We are looking forward to building on his legacy with new leadership.

The Board of Directors has commenced the process of identifying a successor for Harry by retaining a consultant, the Morten Group.  We have established a Transition Committee composed of Board members who will oversee the assessment and selection process (the job description is available here), and will involve Growing Home’s fantastic staff and other stakeholders in the process.  We look forward to introducing Growing Home’s new Executive Director to you when the process is completed.

In the meantime, I want to thank you so much for your continuing interest in and support of Growing Home.  We truly appreciate your involvement and commitment to the organization.


Laura E. Tilly
President, Growing Home Board of Directors

August 10, 2018

Next Steps