Erie House Names Kirstin Chernawsky as New Executive Director


March 14, 2016 | Chicago, IL

Kirstin Chernawsky

Kirstin Chernawsky became the ninth executive director at Erie House since the organization's incorporation in 1915. FILE PHOTO

The Erie Neighborhood House board of directors announced today it has selected Kirstin Chernawsky, now formerly the agency’s senior director of development and communications, to become executive director. She will begin in this new capacity immediately.

“We are excited to welcome Kirstin into this role,” says Patricia Perez, Erie House board president and the vice president of administration for Monterrey Security. “She has been a tireless advocate for the mission of Erie House and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her new position.”

Perez notes that Chernawsky was selected from an applicant pool of more than 30 highly qualified individuals assembled by an executive search firm. “We are extremely confident that Kirstin possesses the assets necessary to continue advancing the work we do in Chicago’s Latino community,” she says.

The announcement comes on the heels of a successful record-breaking annual dinner on March 3, during which Chernawsky’s department helped Erie House gross more than $550,000 to support its programs.

Chernawsky is just the ninth individual—and fourth woman—to serve as executive director since the organization’s incorporation in 1915. The granddaughter of a Portuguese immigrant, she says it is an honor to take the helm of the historic settlement house agency that has served Chicago’s immigrant community for 146 years. “Erie House provides so many essential services to immigrant families throughout the city,” she says. “My hope as executive director is to secure this valuable work for generations to come, empowering individuals and strengthening an entire community in the process.”

She succeeds former executive director Celena Roldán, who earlier this month began her new role as president and CEO of American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and Northern Illinois.

Chernawsky earned a bachelor of arts in sociology (C’05) and a master of science in public service management (G’08), both from DePaul University. During the past three years as senior director of development and communications for Erie House, she has helped the organization increase revenue through foundation grants and individual giving.

Prior to joining Erie House, Chernawsky was director of development & external operations at BUILD, Inc., a youth organization aimed at violence prevention as well as college and career readiness in low-income Latino and African American communities in Chicago. She also worked as manager of institutional giving at Northwestern University Settlement House in the city’s Noble Square neighborhood.

Chernawsky is board treasurer for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and a governance committee member for Ronald McDonald House Charities. She has also served as a mentor in the TEAM program for youth at Erie House.

According to Perez, Erie House will begin an executive search to identify a new senior director of development and communications; in the meantime, associate director of development Paula King will serve in the role on an interim basis.

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Erie Neighborhood House (ENH) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that reaches 18,000 people annually, empowering them to build better lives while strengthening their communities. ENH offers Chicago’s Latinx and diverse low-income residents a range of community-based education programs. With forward-thinking leadership, ENH is committed to continuing its legacy of cost effective, award-winning programming. For more information, please visit

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