The Wellesley Housing Authority has appointed Jackie Sullivan as its executive director, a position she has honed her skills for through three years of experience with the organization and via past work with seniors.
Sullivan’s familiarity with the organization shone through when we asked her for a fun fact about the Housing Authority, and she had one at the ready: “Did you know that the bodyguard for the New England Patriots Quarterback Mac Jones grew up in the Wellesley Housing Authority? Yup! And, he was Tom Brady’s bodyguard too.”
The Housing Authority is a state- and federally-funded outfit whose property portfolio includes 246 rental units or housing opportunities for seniors, adults with disabilities, veterans, families, and others who qualify. Sullivan takes the helm at the organization following the departure of Sean Barnicle, who served in the role for two-plus years and left in October for a similar job in his hometown of Norwood.
Sullivan grew up in a family that was very involved in their town and that, she says, “instilled a strong belief in giving back to our community.”
Upon receiving her degree in public administration from Bridgewater State University, Sullivan began working with seniors for the Dedham Council on Aging. “I enjoyed working with the senior population, and to this day, I am an active member of the Council on Aging Board, and I am still in contact with many of ‘my seniors,'” she says.
Sullivan learned about housing authorities in that role, and started her Wellesley Housing Authority career as a property manager. While she had no previous Wellesley connections, “I knew it would be the perfect fit,” she said.
“I’m excited to be a strong advocate for our residents and staff,” Sullivan says. “Public housing authorities throughout the Commonwealth are severely underfunded. Executive Directors need to make innovative decisions to maintain our properties to provide adequate housing. I’m up for the challenge!”
Among the opportunities on her radar:
- Work with local partners to provide learning opportunities for all residents. Examples: First time home buyers’ programs, budgeting, scams targeting seniors, direct debit options for rent payment
- Work towards a community garden at our Washington Street property
- Continue to work with the Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development to fill vacancies
- Continue creating equitable policies and procedures for residents
We asked about the possible redevelopment of housing at Barton Road, and Sullivan says she looks forward to being part of the process of investigating options. The town and a cast of consultants have been mulling ideas to modernize Wellesley’s public housing stock in a way that will improve life for existing residents, open opportunities to additional people, and make fuller use of the property.