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    Openhouse Executive Director Stepping Down

    Openhouse Executive Director, Dr. Karyn Skultety, announced on January 12 that she will be leaving the organization, as she and her family are moving to Colorado to fulfill family obligations. Her departure is slated for May 31, 2021, allowing ample time for a thoughtful and well-planned transition.

    “We are grateful for Karyn’s fierce and competent leadership over the past four years, which has ensured that the organization possesses the strength, self-sufficiency, and sustainable model of care to embrace this transition,” said Tim Sweeney, Openhouse Board of Directors Co-Chair. “While we are sad to see her leave our family and community, we fully support her need to focus on the changing needs of her immediate and extended family.”

    “It has been my great honor to shepherd the Openhouse community into a new era, where we saw the dream of our founders come alive with the opening of the city’s first LGBTQ-welcoming affordable senior housing at 55 and 95 Laguna,” said Skultety. “I look forward to welcoming a successor who will continue to center the voices and experiences of the LGBTQ+ seniors we serve. That leader will join a strong and committed Board, incredible staff, and a resilient community of LGBTQ+ seniors who are dedicated to this work and true leaders in our city.”

    Founded in 1998 by Dr. Marcy Adelman—now a San Francisco Bay Times columnist—and her late partner, Jeanette Gurevitch, Openhouse has been helping LGBTQ+ seniors create safe, affordable housing, services, and community in San Francisco for more than two decades. Skultety joined as Executive Director in February of 2017, as the organization’s partnership with Mercy Housing came to fruition with residents moving into the City’s first LGBTQ-welcoming senior housing, located at 55 Laguna Street.

    The 1920s-era building which once housed the San Francisco State Teacher College, was renovated to provide 40 affordable, accessible apartments housing 51 residents, 68% of whom identify as LGBTQ. The ground floor, designated as 65 Laguna Street, houses the Bob Ross LGBTQ Senior Center, which includes community meeting space and offices for Openhouse staff members.

    Skultety subsequently guided the organization in partnership with Mercy Housing through the construction of the Marcy Adelman and Jeanette Gurevitch Openhouse Community at 95 Laguna and the Openhouse Community Center at 75 Laguna. In 2019, 96 residents moved into the 79 new housing units at 95 Laguna, with over half of the occupants identifying as LGBTQ+.

    As the Openhouse housing came into reality, Skultety led the organization in expanding services to reach more than 3,500 seniors and creating new models of care for LGBTQ+ seniors. This included the formation of a partnership with On Lok to create Community Day Services, one of the nation’s first community-based adult day programs co-designed for and with the LGBTQ+ community. This innovative program, as well as the ongoing services at Openhouse, will eventually be held at the new Openhouse Community Center at 75 Laguna. The grand opening has been delayed indefinitely by the COVID-19 pandemic, but 10,000 square feet of service space await when it is safe to resume on-site services.

    In the meantime, the organization has continued to provide supportive social services for LGBTQ+ seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Openhouse team mobilized quickly to move classes and support groups online in March 2020. Staff made thousands of phone calls and ran hundreds of errands for community members. They even hosted a live, outdoor, socially-distanced drag show for residents to watch from their windows at 55 and 95 Laguna.

    “With the end of the COVID-19 crisis finally on the horizon, I hold hope that my final days as Executive Director in May will focus on planning a celebration to welcome residents, neighbors, and supporters to the long-awaited new Openhouse Community Center at 75 Laguna and resuming our on-site services,” said Skultety. “But no matter what happens over the new few months, I am confident that the innovative solutions we developed together to meet the unprecedented challenges of this pandemic will further ensure that our housing and programming will continue to serve as a model for LGBTQ aging.”

    The Board of Directors’ search for potential candidates to take the reins of the LGBTQ+ Senior Housing and Services organization will begin immediately, in consultation with Skultety, staff, and members of the Openhouse community. The Board hopes to have a new Executive Director ready to serve Openhouse by May 2021.

    Published on January 14, 2021