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Executive Director Elise Zelechowski to Leave Rebuilding Exchange to Join Chicago-based ThoughtWorks

01.02.14 | Announcements
Elise Zelechowski giving a TEDx Talk: Reimagining Waste for a New Economy in March 2013.

Elise Zelechowski giving a TEDx Talk: Reimagining Waste for a New Economy in March 2013.

Delta Institute CEO Jean Pogge announced today that Rebuilding Exchange (RX) Executive Director and founder Elise Zelechowski will be stepping down from her position in early 2014.

Zelechowski began her career at Delta Institute in 2005, leading Delta’s LEED consulting and sustainability planning. In 2008, she founded the RX as a Delta affiliate organization with the mission of creating a market for reclaimed building materials.

In February 2014, the Rebuilding Exchange will celebrate 5 years of operation, a testament to Zelechowski’s leadership and Delta’s vision for environmentally sustainable economic development in the Great Lakes region. RX accomplishments over the last 5 years include:

  • Creation of a strong local market for building materials reuse;
  • Diversion of close to 22 million pounds of valuable material from landfill;
  • Training of 82 people with barriers to employment in sustainable deconstruction;
  • Launch of RX Made, a furniture line that offers design-build services with reclaimed building materials;
  • Serving more than 16,000 customers per year with access to affordable building materials, dynamic programming, educational workshops and training.

“Elise is a natural leader, social entrepreneur and systems thinker, and Delta Institute has been incredibly fortunate to have benefited from her passion, creativity and leadership,” said Pogge. “She has led a regional conversation on how we can reimagine waste to build a more sustainable environment and economy. While we are sad to see Elise move on, she has positioned the Rebuilding Exchange to take the next step in building a regional market for deconstruction and building material reuse and is leaving a great team of committed staff at the RX. Elise will always be a member of the Delta family, and I know she will continue to be a change maker in her new position.”

Reflecting on her work over the last 8 years, Zelechowski said, “I’m proud of the progress the RX has made in demonstrating that reclaimed building materials have value and that more thoughtful material recovery practices are good for the economy, good for the environment and good for people.”

“It’s been an honor to work with many dynamic and dedicated partners in my time as Executive Director at RX and as a Managing Director of Delta Institute,” said Zelechowski. “The collective passion of the RX board and staff, as well as that of our customers, partners and Delta colleagues, has been a constant source of inspiration. I know Rebuilding Exchange will continue to do great work and be a model for building a greener economy.”

“Elise has been a bit of a magician over the past five years, having led a talented group of dedicated building material market makers through three major moves, while steadily building a solid foundation for a successful future for the organization,” said Jack Crane, Chair of the Rebuilding Exchange Board of Directors. “We will miss her passion, intelligence and courage. Elise will always be a big part of the heart of the Rebuilding Exchange.”

The Rebuilding Exchange Board has begun a search process for a new Executive Director. The RX will celebrate its achievements at its annual event on March 22, which will also be a send-off for Zelechowski.

Zelechowski serves as a board member of the Building Materials Reuse Association and a member of Governor Quinn’s Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Task Force. Prior to her work with Delta Institute and the Rebuilding Exchange, Zelechowski worked for the Chicago Department of Environment.

Zelechowski will be joining Chicago-based ThoughtWorks to lead their North American Social Impact Program. With 29 offices in 12 countries, ThoughtWorks is working to revolutionize the design,
creation and delivery of software, while advocating for positive social change.