The Story of The Open Table

Jon And Ernie

This is not a picture of friendship. This is a picture of relationship. This is Ernie and I.

Look beyond the hats. Through our eyes. And into our hearts. That is where you will find the story of the Open Table Movement.

Open Table began through a local mission of my congregation in Phoenix, Arizona. But our common human purpose is the common good. These days you will find Tables being developed by people in business, congregations, community agencies, government, healthcare systems, universities and in many other places.

Ernie introduced himself to us at the local mission and we to him. As friendships developed, it became clear we had untapped resources Ernie could use as tools to develop the better life he envisioned for himself: relational and social capital. We created a group we called a “board of directors” (now called a Table) and met together every week to support the plan Ernie developed for himself. We worked through challenges and opportunities. Ernie also had a resource we needed: an invitation to the transforming reciprocity that authors relationship. We gave Ernie our social networks. Ernie gave us who he was.

This encounter evolved into the developmental journey that is now the Open Table model. This model is recognized and practiced around the country and has been found to be an effective approach for transforming people and communities. Its foundations as a community practice are rooted in a theory of change, ongoing research and training based on fourteen years of experience.

However, the evidence of transformation is not necessarily in the numbers, but in a new way of living. Though Ernie and I are not geographically close to one another, Ernie and I have continued our relationship for fifteen years and text each other a greeting each morning and evening. It means “I am here and present in your life. Reach out and I’ll be there.” And we have both lived into this promise.

I thought I was the one sent to rescue Ernie. But Ernie turned out to be the one sent to rescue me.

Jon Signature
Jon Katov
Founder and CEO
Email me at: jonkatov@theopentable.org

Staff and Consultants

Jon Katov - Founder & CEO

Founder and CEO

Jon Katov founded the Open Table organization in 2007 after meeting and forming a relationship with a man experiencing homelessness in 2005.

Stephen Baines 2

Technical Assistance Specialist

Stephen has over 15 years of experience working in the field of Social Services, most of which was spent working with a homeless shelter. Stephen serves as part of the Open Table technical support team.

Staff Rachelle

Sr. Director of Community Initiatives

Rachelle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 15 years experience working with at-risk youth and families and serves as Director of Community Engagement for Open Table.

Jasmine Johnson

Data Coordinator

Jasmine is a PhD candidate at Virginia Tech earning her PhD in Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health. As data coordinator for Open Table, Jasmine leads our data collection efforts to include acting as project manager for Question Pro, Open Tables data collection platform.

Milly Mends

MSW Intern

Milly Mends joined Open Table as a MSW intern in the fall of 2023. During her internship, she will be supporting Open Table nationally with implementation and will serve on Tables, support Table implementation and serve as a Neighbor. She aspires to use her degree to work within higher education in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion spaces.

Lisa Nicoll

Operations Manager

Lisa Nicoll joined Open Table in 2022 with a background in clinical mental health and volunteer management. She has 13 years of experience working in a variety of roles for a non-profit that supported at-risk youth, families and volunteers. She currently serves as the Operation Manager for Open Table.

Nyasha Oden

Administrative Coordinator

Nyasha joined Open Table as a Consultant in the Fall of 2020 but has worked as an Open Table Community Engagement Coordinator for a community organization in her community since 2019.

Shawn Pearson

Consultant for National Urban Initiatives

Shawn Pearson has been a community partner with Open table for over 15 years. As an urban social impact entrepreneur, Shawn’s innovative work has resulted in long-lasting, legacy building community impact.

Lori Rivera

MSW Intern

Lori Rivera joined Open Table as a MSW intern in the fall of 2023.  During her internship, she will be supporting Open Table nationally with implementation and will serve on both Network Tables and Core Tables.  She aspires to use her degree to work with immigrant children and  families, and hopes to facilitate the reunification process.

Cheryl Wilkinson

Implementation Consultant

Cheryl Wilkinson began a partnership with Open Table in 2018 after hearing a presentation about the Open Table model at a conference.  Cheryl loved the concept of empowering people in her community to live better lives through relationships with others.

Angie Williams - COO

Angie’s greatest passion is empowering people through mutual relationship to create transformational impact by engaging in the lives of others, especially youth with complex needs.

A broad range of subject matter experts and consultants from around the country support the growth of Open Table.

Subject Matter Experts