Josh Ellis - Staff member - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Josh Ellis

Josh has been with MPC since 2006. He directs many of MPC’s urban and regional planning initiatives, most notably through Great Rivers Chicago, Transform Illinois, and our work in Stormwater Management and Water Supply Management. Through on-the-ground initiatives like robust community planning for investments throughout Chicago's 150+ mile of riverfront, technical assistance to municipalities throughout northeastern Illinois, and facilitation of diverse stakeholder groups—such as the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative—he leads MPC's multiple strategies to balance community aspirations, ecosystem needs, economic growth, and sound public policy. 

He is a frequent public speaker, and has also led many of MPC's research projects on a range of urban and regional challenges, 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.

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  1. Banking on Success: Pittsburgh's riverfront transformation

    • By Josh Ellis and MPC Research Assistant Valerie Poulos
    • Dec 8, 2015
  2. Banking on Success: New Orleans' water plan

    • By Josh Ellis and MPC Research Assistant Becky Clow
    • Nov 5, 2015

More news »

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 engagement and community building
  • Natural resources and environmental policy
  • River and riverfront planning


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

This page can be found online at

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616

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