Calculating Impact: Speaker Bio Page - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Calculating Impact: Speaker Bio Page

Join us May 24th from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. (CT) to hear from:

Erin Aleman (panelist)
Executive Director, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

Erin Aleman is the executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). Appointed in June 2019, Aleman is the first woman and first professional planner to lead the agency. Aleman has more than 15 years of experience with developing transportation and land-use policies. She began her career at CMAP before moving to the Illinois Department of Transportation, where she led the Office of Planning and Programming. In her current role, Aleman oversees an agency that employs more than 100 staff members who develop and implement recommendations in ON TO 2050, the region’s long-range plan.

Ciere Boatright (panelist)
VP of Real Estate & Community Development, CRG

Boatright joined CRG in the Summer of 2021 to help oversee planning and development of some of CRG’s high-impact real estate projects, including securing land entitlements and public and private financing, negotiating terms of agreements with government, working closely and engaging with community organizations, developing feasibility studies, and contributing to the full scope of CRG’s real estate development efforts. She works closely with the Chicago Business Unit of CRG’s parent company, Clayco, to advance real estate and construction opportunities and oversee the successful execution of its high-profile pursuits. Ciere collaborates with leadership teams to develop and launch a program to mentor and support aspiring commercial developers of color, as well as help establish a national CRG Cares philanthropic program in the numerous markets where CRG is active.

Prior to joining CRG, Ciere served as the Vice President, Real Estate and Inclusion for Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, Inc.  During her time at CNI she managed the planning and development of new projects, including Pullman Park, the 180-acre mixed use site at 111th Street and I-94, where CNI coordinated over $400 million of new investment and created nearly 1,800 new jobs.  In addition to planning and development, Ciere was instrumental in leading CNI’s community engagement process. By forging positive relationships with community groups, community members, she fostered widespread support for: Pullman Artspace, an innovative affordable 38-unit artists work/live space; the new Whole Foods Distribution Center in Pullman; the new Gotham greens in Pullman, Amazon in Pullman, a Mariano’s in Bronzeville; and a 135,000 sf community center in Pullman, the largest year-round, indoor athletic complex of its kind in the region. Ciere spearheaded CNI’s efforts for diversity and inclusion: Through her management and project oversight, CNI has achieved between 30 to 50 percent minority business enterprise contractor participation in its projects.

Active in the civic space, Ciere is on the Chicago Community Land Trust Board and serves as a Commissioner for the Roseland Medical District. Ciere also serves on the executive board of ULI’s Women’s Leadership Initiative. She is a board member for Metropolitan Planning Council, a Landmarks Illinois Board member and Link Unlimited Board member. Ciere is a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and was recognized as one of Crain’s 2019 Notable Women in Commercial Real Estate. Ciere was recognized as one of Crain’s 2020 40 under 40 honorees and recently recognized as one of Crain’s 2021 Notable Black Leaders and Executives.

Jacky Grimshaw (presenter)
Vice President of Government Affairs, The Center for Neighborhood Technology 
Jacky joined CNT in 1992, and has since developed its capacity to engage in public policy advocacy and transportation planning, transportation research, environmental justice, public participation tool development, GIS mapping, community economic development and air quality. Jacky advocates for and provides expertise to increase transit in the Chicago region. She created and led CNT’s transportation and air quality programs and led CNT’s Transit Future campaign in the fight for mass transit reform and dedicated funding in the Chicago region. Since 2005, she has led CNT’s policy efforts at all levels of government.

Jacky has served on numerous boards, including: Chicago Transit Authority, National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board’s Environmental Justice and Public Involvement Committees. She has just completed terms on the Women’s Issues in Transportation Committee. 

 Prior to CNT, Jacky spent time as a researcher in hematology and gastroenterology, in both state and federal government, in the Chicago Public School district and served in numerous other capacities, including political advisor for the late Mayor Harold Washington and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Jacky has completed the Master of Arts in Public Policy requirements at Governors State University and holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Marquette University in Milwaukee.

Peter Haas (presenter)
PhD Chief Research Scientist, The Center for Neighborhood Technology
Peter joined CNT in 1994, and has revolutionized the geographic analysis of social, environmental and economic data to produce ground breaking tools for measuring sustainability in urban areas. Peter has been integral in the development of CNT’s location efficiency metrics, and developed its Housing + Transportation (H+T ®) Affordability Index, co-produced with the Brookings Institution. He acted as the Analytical Director for the 22-member CNT Research Team producing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and 33 mitigation strategies for the Chicago Climate Action Plan. He also served as lead analyst on CNT’s subcontract to develop the Location Affordability Index and related web tool for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Transportation. His work in GIS, web development and data analysis have come together into the Geographical Research and Information Department (GRID) at CNT, where he and his colleagues work to provide technical, geographical and analytic input to all of CNT’s programs.

Prior to CNT, Peter was a systems manager at Sieben Energy Associates, Adjunct Faculty at the William Rainey Harper College, and post-doctoral researcher at Cornell University’s Laboratory for Nuclear Studies, and The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Peter has a Ph.D. in particle physics from Ohio State University.


Darlene Hightower (moderator)
President & CEO, Metropolitan Planning Council 

Darlene Oliver Hightower, J.D., began her tenure as President & Chief Executive Officer of Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), an independent nonpartisan regional planning organization, in January 2022. Darlene leads the organization’s strategic vision, shaping ambitious goals that will strengthen the impact of MPC’s work within the region.  

Throughout her career, Darlene has been a tireless advocate for equity. Previously, Darlene served as Vice President, Community Health Equity at Rush University Medical Center. In that capacity, she oversaw the Office of Community Health Equity and Engagement, which included 3 school-based health clinics; Rush University community outreach programs, community benefit reporting, and Rush’s cradle to career healthcare pipeline programs. Darlene also led the development of West Side United, a cross-sector, collaborative aimed at improving health and economic vitality on Chicago’s West Side. Her leadership in health equity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic was nationally recognized, as Darlene was honored in 2020 with the U.S. News and World Report Health Care Hero and Marquis Who’s Who in America. A thoughtful contributor to many publications and speaker at well-renowned conference events, Darlene has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, TriplePundit, and Crain’s Chicago Business. 

Darlene is a Chicago Community Trust Leadership Fellow, a University of Chicago Civic Leadership Academy Fellow, and an Administrative Law Judge for the Chicago Department of Human Relations. Darlene attended Bradley University and received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C.

Mike Tomas (panelist)
Founder & Executive Director, Garfield Park Community Council 
Mike Tomas is the founding Executive Director of the Garfield Park Community Council (GPCC) and joined the GPCC in 2005 when it was created as part of the LISC New Communities Program through the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance. Mike has more than 20 years of experience in both community organizing and community development work in both Chicago’s West Side and the southeast side of San Francisco. Mike is a graduate of the Center for Third World Organizing’s Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program in Oakland California.  Mike works closely with residents, government agencies and community organizations to improve the quality of life for those living in Black and Brown neighborhoods.


Drew Williams-Clark (presenter)
Director of Equitable and Sustainable Communities, Metropolitan Planning Council
Drew Williams-Clark joined MPC in February of 2022 as Director of Equitable and Sustainable Communities. He is a passionate advocate for advancing racial equity in the pursuit of community development and climate resilience. Drew positions himself as a technical ally to frontline organizations, bringing expertise in climate action planning, water resilience, green stormwater infrastructure, development finance, fair and affordable housing policy, and equitable community partnerships.

Before coming to MPC, Drew oversaw efforts to end urban flooding, equitably finance water infrastructure, and retrofit affordable housing for climate change at the Center for Neighborhood Technology. He has also worked at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the Village of Oak Park. Drew lives with his wife, two sons, bicycle, and fishing tackle in Oak Park, IL.

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