Lara Dorfman, BA
The newest member of the Department of Community Development (DCD) is Hilary Haake. Hilary started as the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) coordinator in early December. Hilary came into DCD with vast experience in managing databases and reporting but this is her first job in the non-profit sector. She had previously worked for corporate profit centers and other businesses where excelling did not mean nearly as much as it does now. At DCD, Hilary feels her work is exponentially more rewarding and that she can indirectly aid people in need by providing key decision makers with essential data to push them in the right direction and better our community.
Hilary was born in the Chicago suburbs but moved to Chester County when she was nine so she is very familiar with the area and how it has grown over the years. Growing up in Chester County, Hilary says she has a strong connection to the County and she’s excited to be able to have a positive impact. Growing up, she admired her grandmother who was not as fortunate early in life. Hilary explained that her grandmother had lived in an orphanage until the age of 14 and found a way to stay positive and determined throughout her entire life, eventually passing that trait and optimism down to her grandchildren. Hilary told me that her grandmother, “always had a clever way of making things better,” even in the toughest of situations.
Hilary never had one dream job growing up because she had so many interests. In high school, her passions were art, history and math. These interests eventually pushed her to develop key analytical and problem solving skills that lead her in this career direction. Outside of work, Hilary is hunting for antiques and vintage collectibles at auctions and garage sales but she has not had much time for that because her free time now is spent helping her sisters plan their weddings.
Hilary has also been quite busy adjusting to her new role at DCD. She never has one typical day, which is a good thing. She spends her time helping providers with their system needs and collaborating. There is consistency in her work though in that a significant and extremely important part of her job is data maintenance. Hilary also has a variety of small projects on her plate at all times. In short, she’s very busy, but she loves it.
“Empathy is the main piece that you need in order to get into the field; the rest will fall into place”. Hilary gets through even the hard days with her positive attitude. She knows what has to be done at the end of the day and she lets nothing stop her. Her personality also aids her work in that she is very analytical, likes mystery and reconstructing things backwards. She’s a problem solver and that is a huge part of the work she does at DCD, constantly brainstorming and problem solving. Her favorite day at work so far was attending the Voice and Vision Meeting where we heard from a panelist of people with lived experience. She found that the meeting was inspiring and so important to move forward as a County and end homelessness. Hilary finds the most significant challenge for low-income families in Chester County to be lack of affordable housing inventory and the cost of utilities. She’s confident that we could end homelessness tomorrow if we only had the resources because we have the skillset in the County.
On another note, if Hilary could have anyone play her in a movie about her life it would be Mira Sorvino. I hope you enjoyed getting to know more about Hilary Haake, our new HMIS program coordinator for the Department of Community Development.