Lynda Schueler, MPAExecutive Director
Lynda has devoted her career to helping men, women, and families transition from housing crisis to housing stability. As executive director since 2001, Lynda provides strategic vision and organizational leadership at Housing Forward. Her leadership has enabled the agency’s growth from a $450,000 a year shelter provider to a $13M agency offering a full continuum of housing and prevention programs in addition to safety-net services. Over the years, she has formed numerous collaborations whose expertise and resources have guided hundreds of Housing Forward clients on their paths toward self-sufficiency. Lynda is a founder and current board member of the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County and a founding member of the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition. She has received awards for her work from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Housing Action Illinois, West Cook Y, the Community Mental Health Board of Oak Park Township, the Maywood Chamber of Commerce and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Oak Park Rotary. In 2020, Lynda was named Villager of the Year in Oak Park for leading the agency’s COVID response.
Lynda has a Masters of Public Administration from Northern Illinois University and a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Illinois State University.
Favorite Housing Forward value: Innovative Solutions
“We’re not afraid to venture into unknown territory to end homelessness. We look to communities to help feed the innovation and partner with us to solve homelessness.”
In her spare time, Lynda enjoys riding her bike around town and traveling with her family.
Jane Houle, MBAChief Financial Officer
Jane Houle has been with Housing Forward since 2018. As Chief Financial Officer, she is responsible for financial management strategy including direct responsibility for the agency’s accounting, finance, forecasting, budget, strategic planning, oversight of all public contracts/agreements, financial compliance, and risk management.
Jane has over three decades of experience in accounting and financial management. Starting her career with 10 years in banking, Jane switched paths to the nonprofit sector as a grant accountant with a homeless services agency. While raising her family, she spent 15 years as an independent consultant for dozens of nonprofits, providing software training and implementation, process improvement, and serving as interim CFO. Immediately prior to joining Housing Forward, Jane was the Consulting Manager for the nonprofit practice at Net@Work, coordinating the accounting support and training of over 500 organizations. She was also a founding partner and senior advisor with 1st Choice Advisors, a software consulting firm focused on nonprofit organizations.
Favorite Housing Forward value: Inspired Teamwork
“We don’t make decisions in a vacuum. We have been working more closely than ever and our team is always willing to explore solutions that will achieve the best outcomes.”
Jane has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Western Michigan University and an Masters of Business Administration from DePaul University. She has been an active volunteer with organizations in the Chicago area serving youth, fair housing, and the economically disadvantaged in her community.
Chris Martinez, MBA, CFPChief Operating Officer
Chris Martinez brings more than 25 years of corporate operations, technology, and program management expertise to the role of Chief Operating Officer. Most recently, Chris was managing director at Oakbrook Solutions, where he aligned people, platforms, and processes to support growth and change, and led the strategic management consulting practice for wealth management and family office clients. Prior to consulting, Chris held leadership roles with The PrivateBank, Wilmington Trust, Bingham Legg Advisers, and Webster Management Group.
Favorite Housing Forward value: Meaningful Impact
“As a former management consultant, one mantra that has resonated with me is, “What gets measured gets improved.” This not only helps emphasize the difference we are making in advancing our mission, but helps us focus on the end goal, develop plans to achieve the intended outcome(s), and be more mindful of how to focus our efforts. For example, in my triathlon training, all of the data from fitness trackers help me discover new PRs, understand and push my perceived limits, be more aware of strengths and weaknesses, giving me both confidence to keep going and humility to adapt as needed. It also validates that I am spending time on things that are important to me.”
Chris has a Bachelors degree in computer science from The University of Southern California, a Masters of Business Administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and is a Certified Financial Planner™. He is dedicated to housing and human services and is a member of the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity Chicago as well as and longtime volunteer for Catholic Charities of Chicago. In addition to volunteerism, Chris keeps active swimming, biking, and running (as a triathlete and guide for paratriathletes) and playing tennis.
Erik JohnsonChief Development Officer
Erik Johnson brings more than two decades of non-profit leadership experience to his role as Chief Development Officer. He joined the Housing Forward team in January 2020 where he provides strategic and operational direction for fundraising and communication activities. Erik has significant experience building successful development and communication teams; he served as Vice President of Development at Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley and Vice President of Advancement at Aspire. Erik is passionate about social entrepreneurship and has created two social enterprises. Prior to the development arena, he served as the Chief Operating Officer of Vital Bridges and Executive Director of Community Response. He has served on the Board of Directors of Michael Teolis Singers and AIDS Cycle, Inc., as well as in a wide variety of consultative and volunteer roles in the areas of HIV, housing, developmental disabilities, and the arts.
Erik has a Bachelor of Music and Business degree from Drake University and an Masters of Business Administration from Keller Graduate School of Business in Chicago.
Favorite Housing Forward value: Engaged Community
“When we bring partners and collaborators together to focus on the common goal of ending homelessness, great things can happen.”
Outside of work, Erik is an amateur musician and enjoys a rousing game of fetch with his German Shepherd, Otto.
Armando Smith, LCSWChief Program Officer
As Chief Program Officer, Armando Smith is responsible for providing leadership, direction, and oversight of Housing Forward's integrated service delivery system through six program areas – housing, interim housing, medical respite, outreach & diversion, prevention, and wraparound services. Armando has more than 35 years of leadership and counseling experience with prominent social service agencies such as The Night Ministry, Teen Living Programs and AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Most recently, Armando was Associate Director of Healthcare Clinical Operations for Vital Bridges, a division of Heartland Health Outreach. In that position, he was responsible for all program operations, quality assurance and improvement, outcome measurement and budget management. He is part time staff at the Cathedral Counseling Center and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and member of the National Association of Social Workers.
Favorite Housing Forward value: Person Centered Approach
“When we put clients at the center of our work, we are guided by the very reason we exist as an organization: to be of service to those who seek and rely on us.”
Armando, a native of Panama, is fluent in Spanish.