MarySue Barrett is an expert on designing effective urban solutions through creative collaboration across governments, businesses and communities. As president of the independent Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), Barrett builds bridges between the public and private sectors to solve metropolitan Chicago’s urgent planning and development challenges, refining the tactics that can help regions everywhere prepare for the needs of tomorrow.
Barrett speaks and writes frequently about why and how cities must continually reinvent themselves. She deconstructs Chicago’s and MPC’s success stories as models for cities across the globe, while offering constructive analysis when we fail to unlock our region’s full potential.
Prior to joining MPC, Ms. Barrett served in former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley as his chief of policy. She counts among her top accomplishments Chicago's early implementation of community policing and the City's successful bid to host the 1996 Democratic National Convention. Tapping her deep knowledge of government, Ms. Barrett recently has led transition committees for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ill. Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Ms. Barrett is a steering committee member of World Business Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth & Jobs, co-chairing the infrastructure team. She also serves on the Advisory Boards of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, Harris School’s Visiting Committee at the University of Chicago, and Illinois Issues magazine. She is also active with The Chicago Network and the Economic Club of Chicago. She has participated in leadership exchanges sponsored by the International Women's Forum (1996), Rockefeller Foundation (2009) and Brookings Institution (2008 and 2011). She has a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University.
- MPC staff, volunteers explore how region’s shifting demographics will affect growth and development
- On January 26th, I was lucky to participate in a forum to learn from six sharp minds and then discuss the implications with my colleagues. Here’s what I learned about the metropolitan Chicago based on 2010 Census data:
A greater percentage of Chicago-area residents are 65 or older.
- Chicagoland Case: A Region Learns to Help Itself
- For nearly 100 years, through the 1980s, Chicago’s south suburbs were rich with opportunity. Steel mills and rail yards powered metropolitan Chicago’s economy, putting the local workforce in high demand. As the nation transitioned to a service-based economy – decades before the…
- Inspiring investments, inspired leadership essential to strengthening Illinois' economy
- On the eve of Election Day, Illinois voters are deciding which candidates they trust to calm our economic storms. Whether green or seasoned, tomorrow’s winners will confront historic budget deficits and cloudy fiscal forecasts at all levels of government, and most policy experts agree they…
- Even at mid-speed, rail improvements can crank up Illinois' economy
- This op-ed by MPC President MarySue Barrett appeared in Crain's Chicago Business May 3, 2010.
As Illinois and neighboring states explore how a high-speed rail network could transform the Midwest, the Chicago area stands to gain employment and attract new economic development. The question is, how…
- Chicago modeling livable communities
- This letter ran 4/13/2010 in the Chicago Tribune.
For years, we’ve known that many local workers – the proverbial teachers, nurses and firefighters, plus dozens of other professionals – cannot afford to purchase a home in metropolitan Chicago (“Make less than $62k?…
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Areas of expertise
- Civic innovation
- Policy strategy
- Strategic communications
- Writing and public speaking
- Advocacy and mobilization
B.S., Communications, Northwestern University