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Josh Ellis


Josh has been with MPC since 2006. He directs MPC’s sustainability initiatives, most notably in the fields of Stormwater Mitigation and Water Supply Management. Through on-the-ground initiatives like the Milwaukee Avenue Green Development Corridor, technical assistance to the Northwest Water Planning Alliance, and facilitation of diverse stakeholder groups—such as the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative—he leads MPC's multiple strategies to sustainably manage Illinois' finite water resources and reduce the harmful impacts of stormwater. 

He leads many of MPC's research projects, including Immeasurable Loss: Modernizing Lake Michigan Water Use, Bus Rapid Transit: Chicago's New Route to Opportunity, and Before the Wells Run DryHe also coordinates MPC's research assistant program, of which he himself is an alumnus.

Josh is a member of the Midwest Leadership Council of the National Parks Conservation Association, the Cook County Sustainability Advisory Council, and the advisory committee exploring the future of the Chicago Area Waterway System. He is President of the Board at PODER, which serves adult immigrants with a mission to provide the necessary academic tools to promote human dignity, increase employment potential, and facilitate participation in the larger community. 

A New Hampshire native, Josh resides in Chicago’s South Loop where he is a Board member of the Greater South Loop Association. He managed a small school in Japan before his graduate studies in public policy and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago.  His honors thesis, published in Water, Environmental Security and Sustainable Rural Development: Conflict and Cooperation in Central Eurasia, compared the political discourse of marsh restoration in southeastern Iraq with the environmental history of the region.


Transform Illinois: A Coalition for Efficient Government
While the sheer number of governments in Illinois is staggering—somewhere between 6,900 and 8,500, counting everything from school districts to lesser-known cemetery districts—the fundamental question isn’t, “How many is too many?” Instead, it’s “How can we…
Calumet Stormwater Collaborative meeting materials
  • By Josh Ellis and MPC Research Assistant Kelsey Pudlock
  • Jan 20, 2015
The Calumet Stormwater Collaborative, facilitated by the Metropolitan Planning Council, has been working toward systemic stormwater management solutions since April 2014. Monthly meetings have enabled the Collaborative to identify the challenges and opportunities related to managing the region's…
A Fork in the River: New video explores future of our waterways
It's been about a year since Asian carp hit the news in a big way. Here in the Chicago region our most notorious invasive species may have slipped from the front pages, but elsewhere in the broader Great Lakes region they are still very much on people's minds. Fortunately for everyone involved,…
It’s only 2010, but today you can GO TO 2040
Think for a moment about what our region could be in 2040. More transit choices? Doable. Safer neighborhoods? Possible. Cleaner water? Sure, if we work at it. Whatever our goals for tomorrow and the future, we need a plan to get there. Fortunately for northeastern Illinois, we now have one –…
Charting a new course for the Chicago River
The Chicago River has been in the public eye in the past few weeks, a spotlight it too rarely enjoys. First, the Obama Adminstration came down on the side of disinfection; Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley subsequently reiterated his ongoing support enhanced treatment and a cleaner river. Asian carp…

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Photo of Josh Ellis


Josh Ellis Director
312 863 6045

Areas of expertise

  • State, regional and local water resources management
  • Stormwater infrastructure and planning
  • Transit-oriented development
  • Community and economic development
  • Natural resources and environmental policy


M.P.P., Public Policy, University of Chicago
M.A., Middle Eastern Studies, University of Chicago
B.A., English Literature, College of William and Mary

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For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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