ABCD Institute > Institute Faculty > John (Jody) Kretzmann (in memoriam)

John (Jody) Kretzmann (in memoriam)

In Memoriam, January 1, 2023

It is with a heavy heart that we would like to let you know that our beloved co-founder and mentor to so many, Jody Kretzmann has passed away. Jody snuck in one more holiday season before departing. ​ In his final days, Jody was surrounded by family, absorbing their love, prayers and comforting presence.

Jody Kretzmann and John McKnight started the ABCD Institute in the early 1990's after four years of research that culminated in the publication of their best selling community development book, Building Communities from the Inside Out. Over many years Jody traveled the globe introducing ABCD concepts and fueling the spread of the ABCD movement worldwide. As vice president of the ABCD Board in  2016, Jody was integral in the transition of the Institute into a non-profit organization and its move to its current home at DePaul University in Chicago. 

Beyond his ABCD work and the many who came to know and love him through that work, Jody will also be remembered as a gifted teacher by his Northwestern students, a talented writer, a community organizer and community development leader in Chicago and most of all as a loving father, husband, brother and brother-in-law. 

Jody's ability to see the gifts in individuals even when they couldn't themselves, to identify and value the assets that exist in all communities along with his welcoming, warm spirit was a gift to this world. 

He will be missed by so many. 

We know we all have so much to share about Jody -- Please Share a story, Leave a Memory, Share a gift of Jody’s you loved or inspired yo​u...

Read John McKnight's Tribute to Jody.​

Watch Canadian Senator Mary Coyle's Tribute to Jody on the Senate Floor

View April Doner's graphic recordings from Jody's memorial service

Read Jody's Obituary in the Chicago Tribune​


John Kretzmann (Jody) is co-founder and co-director of the Asset- Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute. The ABCD Institute works with community building leaders across North America as well as on five other continents to conduct research, produce materials and otherwise support community-based efforts to rediscover local capacities and to mobilize citizens’ resources to solve problems. The Institute continues to build on the stories and strategies for successful community building reported in his popular book Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets, written with longtime colleague John McKnight.

A much-traveled speaker and trainer, Kretzmann brings more than four decades of community-based work and study to his current position. Before founding the ABCD Institute, he worked as a community organizer and community development leader in Chicago neighborhoods, and as a consultant to a wide range of neighborhood groups. He has worked to develop community-friendly policies in the city, and at the regional, state, national and international levels. In addition to his work at Northwestern, he has taught about community development and public policy with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Urban Studies Program (which he co-founded), Valparaiso University, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and McCormack Seminary. He serves on a wide range of civic, community and foundation boards. His BA is from Princeton University (magna cum laude), his master's degree is from the University of Virginia, and his PhD (in sociology and urban affairs) is from Northwestern University. ​