A Toast to Two Heroines

Dorothy Ellington

Last week, the ribbon was cut on the new Delray Beach Housing Authority “West Settlers Office Building” at 82 Northwest Fifth Avenue.

It’s a beautiful mixed use building right next to Donnie’s Place.

All of which gives me an excuse to write about Dorothy Ellington, the long time and tremendously awesome executive director of the Delray Beach Housing Authority.

Dorothy came into a troubled agency and righted the ship. She’s been a steady leader from day one and a great public servant. She cares, is passionate about her city, her staff and her clients.

Dorothy has worked extremely well with our Community Improvement Department and Community Redevelopment Agency and other agencies, organizations and departments for decades—leveraging resources and providing a basic human need—housing– which is becoming more and more out of reach for far too many people in our society.

She’s just plain good.

So are many of the public servants who wake up every day, go to work and try their best to make Delray Beach a better place.

It’s largely because of them that it is.

The Housing Authority is one of those agencies quietly making a difference in the lives of their clients. From administering a Section 8 program serving over 1,000 families to a Family Self Sufficiency Program that promotes employment and financial literacy, the Housing Authority is a big part of the Delray fabric.

Stop by the new office building on 5th Ave. You’ll see a part of what Dorothy and her team are accomplishing.

Karen Granger

Karen Granger is another one of those good people.

She resigned last week after a great run at the Chamber.

Immediately, the rumor mill went into motion– as it typically does when someone leaves a high profile position.

Rarely, if ever, are the rumors correct.

As a long time board member of the chamber under three of the five people who have been president of that 92 year old organization, I can tell you that Karen did an excellent job.

The chamber is a beehive of activity and Karen and her staff and volunteers made it happen.

The Lynn University MBA program, entrepreneurs renting rooms, lively committee meetings, fun networking events, great speakers, industry roundtables—the list goes on and on.

I knew Karen when she worked at Levenger, but while I always liked her she became a friend and a confidant during her tenure at the chamber. She serves that role for many people in our community—not just old guys like me, but young entrepreneurs seeking to find their way in business and in Delray.

Karen is always there when you need her—I felt that way about Bill Wood too–only Karen has much better hair. In fact, Karen has hair…but I digress. I just miss roasting Bill. More than I think is healthy.

As I grow older—and worry about my own hair—I find myself feeling a whole lot of gratitude for the people who give their careers and free time to our home town.

They are the ones who make a difference—often times quietly and often for little or no glory. They certainly aren’t in it for the money or because it’s easy work or because they expect a payoff beyond paying their civic rent.

It’s easy to bloviate on social media for all to see. It’s easy to label, disparage, disrespect, dismiss and defame. It’s harder to build something. But it is much more fun.

Dorothy is a builder. So is Karen Granger.

They build people up…they are kind, loving, respectful and hard working.

People often ask me if I miss politics and the answer is no, I don’t like politics. I do however miss the opportunity that politics gives you to help people.

I appreciate people …the ones who help our community; the ones who look out for others and care for them as human beings.

I like working with people and for people.

I like saying thank you and crediting a team for a job well done.

So to my friend Dorothy, congratulations on your latest outstanding project. And to Karen, thank you for being you and for being a friend to so many. Roles may change—but friendship endures.








  1. Right on, Jeff! We’ve all learned so much from both Dorothy and Karen and will be doing so into the future.

  2. Patrick Ross says

    Thank you Jeff, for this Monday morning “picker upper” that speaks such very kind words of two outstanding examples of the people who make Delray Beach the very special place that it is.

  3. Noreen Payne says

    Well said! thank you Jeff Perlman.

  4. Bill Wood says

    I’ve know Dorothy and Karen for many years – they are both smart and terrific and deserving of as many other positive adjectives as we can think up!

    You, on the other hand…………………..

  5. Joycelyn Patrick says

    Thank you Jeff for highlighting these two beautiful women who have contributed so much to Delray Beach. A nice way to jump start my week!

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