Bridge Communities New CEO

Bridge Communities New CEO

Bridge Communities has a new chief executive officer. Karen Wells has been on the job for a week now.

The nonprofit provides housing, mentoring, and supportive services to homeless families in DuPage County.

Wells brings more than 25 years of corporate and entrepreneurial experience. She’s held several leadership roles with McDonald’s corporation and also owned a small business with her husband.

“It’s a cool opportunity to intersect my passion, my purpose, and my leadership skills with a not-for-profit,” said Wells. “I believe not-for-profits are small businesses so if you can get business people who have a passion to use those skills in a not-for-profit space I think it’s an amazing combination.”

Previous Work With Bridge Communities

The new CEO is familiar with Bridge Communities. The Naperville resident volunteered at the organization for 10 years and served on the board and committee for around four.

She’s taken on this new role from former CEO John Hayner and it’s an unusual time to start.

She’s tackling two major challenges in the first week. She’s leading the organization into Phase 3 as Illinois bends the COVID-19 curve.

The recent protests have also impacted their families. 70 percent of them are people of color.

“We want to have an opportunity for our staff and our families to voice how they’re feeling right now and provide resources because in some cases this is very traumatic for many,” said Wells.

Moving Forward

Wells has first-hand experience with poverty and is a first-generation college graduate.

That’s why though she knows bridge communities has a strong foundation, she hopes to grow it even further.

“I love the opportunity for us to remain curious and to remain open to what if possibilities. And I want to make sure it’s extremely focused on our client journey and the people that we serve,” said Wells. “So how we improve and build on that journey is mission critical and arm our mentors and our staff with the best resources to do it.”

Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.

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