Connecting the Dots to Solve an Intractable Problem

Rosanne Haggerty has committed her life to solving a seemingly insoluble problem.

Independent Sector is proud to announce that it will honor Rosanne Haggerty, president and CEO of Community Solutions, with the 2017 John W. Gardner Leadership Award.

Through Community Solutions, Rosanne has helped communities become better problem solvers by using data analytics, quality improvement strategies, and design thinking to combat chronic homelessness. Rosanne has been a pioneer in this space since 1990 when she began Common Ground, now known as Breaking Ground, which led efforts to end homelessness and build housing in New York City. Her work at Common Ground stood out because of the strategies the organization used, such as asking homeless individuals directly what they thought were barriers and issues in ending homelessness. This approach led Common Ground to reduce homelessness by 87 percent in the 20-block area around Times Square in just four years.

Today, Community Solutions, founded in 2011, works with charitable, business, and government sectors to identify the most marginalized and vulnerable individuals in communities across the country and work on holistic solutions to their homelessness. The organization’s 100,000 Homes Campaign helped communities find homes for 105,580 homeless Americans in four years.

“Rosanne’s visionary leadership is an inspiration to every changemaker working with and in the charitable sector,” said Daniel J. Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “By focusing on the most vulnerable, using data-driven strategies, cross-sector partnership, and design thinking, Community Solutions is making great strides in transforming individuals and communities for the better. Under her leadership, American cities and communities are connecting the dots to solve one of our country’s most intractable problems.”

Independent Sector’s John W. Gardner Leadership Award recognizes an American visionary whose body of work has empowered constituencies, strengthened participation, inspired movements, and improved the quality of life on our planet. It is named for the founding chairman of IS, John W. Gardner, a cabinet member in the Johnson Administration and a champion of the charitable sector’s role in driving social change. Haggerty will be honored at an awards luncheon in Detroit on Thursday, October 26, during Our Common Future, a conference attended by thousands of changemakers from across the nation.

“We are honored to recognize Rosanne Haggerty’s leadership and work,” said Kathy Calvin, president and CEO of the United Nations Foundation and chair of the 2017 John W. Gardner Leadership Award Committee at Independent Sector. “She has humbly and effectively led organizations to combat homelessness not just to improve lives for those individuals but get at the very heart of what is causing the problem. We are all lucky to have her passion and tenacity working to strengthen our communities.”

One of Community Solutions’ signature initiatives is Built for Zero, a rigorous national change effort designed to help U.S. communities end chronic and veteran homelessness. The effort seeks to ensure that communities have real-time data for tracking the needs of specific homeless individuals. So far, Built for Zero has housed 75,000 people, including more than 40,000 veterans, and ensured that more than 50 participating communities have real-time, by-name data on their local homeless populations. Additionally, more than 25 communities are now driving monthly reductions in homelessness among these populations, and 10 communities have ended chronic or veteran homelessness altogether.

You can hear more from Haggerty at Our Common Future, a joint conference of Independent Sector, Council of Michigan Foundation, and Michigan Nonprofit Association taking place October 25-27 in Detroit.

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Global Topics: Data, Health and Human Services, Leadership Development, Upswell
  • edward vick

    Wonderful and so deserved. She is so totally committed.

  • Barbara Thornton

    After attending Built for Zero in CA I am now wondering what else needs to be done (and how can I stay employed) after veteran homelessness has ended in Mississippi? Do you have any ideas?

  • Kathryn Mandla

    Well done and well deserved, Rosanne! I had the privilege of travelling from Australia to meet you and hear of your good work in the US at a Homelessness Conference in Washington some years ago. I continue to hear of your amazing and truly inspirational efforts for the homeless. I am so happy that your tireless work has been so aptly acknowledged.

  • Roland Michalak

    Greetings; news as this is truly inspirational, Rosanne’s story is well deserving of commendations. Being homeless is very sad, and yet it is real. Today, unfortunately, there are many still suffering from this experience, and children still go to sleep in vehicles hungry through out this wealthy nation. But the ones that are better off, generally are not aware off this, they go through life as if nothing matters because they’re not affected by it. I wish to add that I would want to be like Rosanne, and become involved. My message is, I am not wealthy moneywise, but at heart I am. I own nearly 20 acres of land in South Haven, MI of which I would ask anyone in the government, or any proper sources for assistance in helping to provide a mobile home park community for those Vets, and others that are still without a roof over their heads, to show them they’re not forgotten nor left behind. This can, and should be considered. And I would like someone to read my message and contact me, so another good deed can go forward. And together, like Rosanne’s good deed,additional one may become part of solution, not for praiseworthy sake, but fulfilling another peace at heart, realizing that human life matters. I thank all those for reading my note, any additional information, please contact me by writing > Remain Blessed,, Roland.

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