Meet Elis Shin, Deputy Director

Elis Shin has been an Open House New Yorker since 2012. She first got involved as a volunteer and was drawn by our mission’s optimism—opening doors is one of the best ways to help New Yorkers understand why the city looks and feels the way it does and to empower them to reshape it. 

Elis is rejoining our staff and will serve as Deputy Director. In her new role, she will serve as lead producer of OHNY Weekend and our year-round programs. She brings a decade of experience in cultural programming, design research, and working with nonprofits and design studios in New York and around the world. She holds an MS in Strategic Design and Management from Parsons School of Design and a BA in Metropolitan Studies from New York University. Since 2020, Elis has also been the curator of Open House Worldwide, a global network of 60 Open House festivals. 

What excites you about coming back to Open House New York?

Open House New Yorkers. There’s no one as curious, generous, and passionate about the city. It’s a joy to do this work for, and with, Open House New Yorkers. 

OHNY is run by five Open House New Yorkers who love sharing the best parts of the city with others. We’re helped by a governing board of 19 volunteers who provide strategic leadership and ensure we expand our impact each year. We rely on the kindness of 400+ partners who unlock their doors and share their stories of the people, projects, systems, and ideas that define New York and its future. And on the generosity of 1,000+ volunteers who support our partners and help welcome tens of thousands of people to our programs.

If you’re interested in joining our team, we’re hiring a production assistant to help us with the 2024 festival. Our big call for festival volunteers will launch in mid-August, but we have volunteer opportunities all year long.

If you’re one of those lucky people who hold the keys to special places across the city or are working on an exciting project that New Yorkers should know about, let’s chat! I’m at elis@ohny.org.

What’s your most memorable Open House New York experience?

My first OHNY Weekend volunteer orientation. 

I first joined the production team around June 2012 and spent months working on the festival’s minutiae. Planning a festival is a lot of lists, emails, and spreadsheets. By September, the festival was just a jumble of words and numbers—until the volunteer orientation made it real.

Our volunteer orientations are the first big gatherings of the festival season. They are attended by 300+ volunteers at a time and help prepare the 1,000+ people who support our partners at all festival activities. Orientations are where volunteer assignments are revealed, volunteers meet their teammates, festival materials are picked up, and everyone shares their favorite OHNY destinations and other tips. It’s an explosion of activity and it’s so fun to be a part of it. I still look forward to the volunteer orientations every year. 

If you could open up any site for OHNY Weekend, what would it be and why?

It’s hard to pick just one! I’m fascinated by water supply systems and would love to peek into the construction sites of Water Tunnel No. 3. I also love seeing the city from new vantage points and am always looking for a way to take Open House New Yorkers to the top of the Washington Square or Grand Army Plaza Arches.

I’m an Open House New Yorker because…

OHNY is one of the best ways to learn why the city looks, feels, and functions the way it does.