After last night's staff holiday bowling party and tomorrow's office clean-up day, the next time most of the MPC staff will see each other, our Outlook calendars will read "2018." But before we're off to the races with a new year and new goals, we wanted to celebrate our 2017 successes. From the River Edge Ideas Lab, closing January 7th, to our amazing staff of research assistants, here's what MPC's staff are proudest of this year:
"I've had the opportunity to talk about black population loss in our region, and that's a proud moment for me. Population loss signals a deeper, more complex story—one that relates to safe neighborhoods, jobs, affordable housing and quality schools. Speculating on that narrative, on declining black enrollment and persistent segregation in CPS, among other stories, has been rewarding. Our work has been amplified by venues from WBEZ (population loss and CPS enrollment) to Chicago Magazine, and I've joined related conversations in Crain's, the Chicago Tribune, the Ben Joravsky show, and elsewhere." —Alden Loury, Director of Research and Evaluation
"If I have to pick just one, it would be the creation and production of a first-of-its-kind free guide for elected officials about managing safe and sustainable water supply services for their communities. Drinking Water 1-2-3 helps pave the way for improved partnership, transparency, equity and protection in water supply planning and utility operations—a critical foundation for great, livable communities!" —Danielle Gallet, Manager
"As the President’s Assistant, I don’t work on our projects but I get to learn about all of them. This year it’s been particularly exciting to see the reception to the Cost of Segregation, which was released the week I started working at MPC. I’ve sent copies of the report to many of my family members and friends from outside of Chicago who are invested in racial justice. I’m so proud to work at an organization that is not afraid to delve deep into our region’s greatest challenges and actively engage communities while we do so. I’m excited to see what 2018 will bring as we release policy recommendations, which were created through extensive interviews and focus groups with people from neighborhoods across Chicagoland. Change is created when the voices of those most impacted are uplifted." —Abaki Beck, Executive Assistant
"As a new Chicago transplant and MPC research assistant, I’m proud that, after three months, I can find a little over half of Chicago’s neighborhoods on a map." —Sawyer Middeleer, Research Assistant
Riverfront development visions from world-class architects at the River Edge Ideas Lab
"Pulling off the Chicago River Edge Ideas Lab! MPC and Chicago's Department of Planning and Development staff did something we have never done before. The work done by everyone in such a short amount of time was incredible. It was especially rewarding to get such great press and have the exhibit recognized in the top 10 things to do at the Biennial!" —Chloe Gurin-Sands, Associate
"My proudest accomplishment is becoming the new Transportation Director at MPC!" —Audrey Wennink, Director of Transportation
"As a member of the development team, I'm most proud of securing new funding sources and growing our existing partnerships." —Matt Altstiel, Development Manager
"My proudest moment at MPC thus far has been helping with the organization of our two recent learning trips to Seattle and Atlanta. Last Friday, at the debrief session, being able to hear their takeaways from the trips and how we may be able to translate some of them to a Chicago context." —Jeff Wozencraft, Research Assistant
"This has been a year of growth for MPC. I'm proudest of the exceptional new talent we've recruited and merged with our valued longtime staff and diverse volunteers. Our team is strong, united and poised for excellence in 2018." —MarySue Barrett, President
"My proudest moments at MPC have come from having conversations with youth across our region and them sharing their incredible insights on issues of inequity in our region, and most importantly, their sense of hope and resolution for how we can take on these challenges together." —Lynnette McRae, Manager
"This year, I am most proud of the role that I helped play to coordinate and facilitate a youth focus group as part of our Cost of Segregation Phase 2 qualitative research. Hearing from youth perspectives regarding the work MPC is doing (and hopes to be doing in the future) surrounding racial and economic equity is so important, and I know that Gabriel Charles Tyler and I both feel really lucky to have been able to connect with some awesome youth in the region and serve as ambassadors for this work. I was blown away by their sincerity and their willingness to be vulnerable with us, and for me it was really an ‘aha!’ way for me to see the connections between our COS research findings, and people’s lived experiences." —Shehara Waas, Research Associate
"I'm most proud of fostering an exchange of ideas and inspiration among mayors as pivotal leaders in climate change! Our December 6th Mayors Climate Breakfast here at MPC, in partnership with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, was a solid reminder of how critical cities are in tackling the challenges of a changing climate, and how our region—and nation—can and must continue commitments to greening resilient communities of the future." —Sarah Cardona, Associate
"MPC is at its best when we tackle issues so intractable that it's easy to say "that's just the way things are." In our region, and in Illinois more broadly, that list includes pervasive segregation and our strange overabundance of single purpose units of government. In 2017, MPC tackled them both. I'm very proud of my colleagues on our Cost of Segregation team, and personally proud to have led our efforts on Transform Illinois, a coalition working to streamline governance in this state. Through both we're chipping away at big, thorny issues that we just can't abide by anymore. And that's something to be proud of." —Josh Ellis, Vice President
Fellow Bob Newport explained that he's proud both of our talented staff of research assistants, and the relationships he's cultivated with them. Bob says:
"If you have been in the MPC offices or looked at some of our work products, you probably noticed at any one time MPC has A LOT of great Research Assistants on the job. In our organization Research Assistants are typically students and recent graduates who are seeking relevant, valuable work experience. The RA’s that worked with MPC in 2017 were, like most years, simply outstanding. They are energetic professionals, creative thinkers, and diligent workers. They bring skills and ideas to the work that are indispensable to our success. It is a sad and happy day when one of these super-great individuals finishes up their time with MPC. We miss their excellent work, but wish them tremendous professional success and fulfillment. It is very rewarding and heart-warming to read a message like this on an RA’s last day:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank MPC for giving me a platform to grow and my sincerest thanks to you for making my term at MPC a memorable one.
I would also like to thank Bob for his valued opinions, insights and support during my entire period at MPC.
Hopefully our paths will cross again!"
And as MPC's new Content Strategist, a role I started in June, I'm proudest to work with such an ambitious-yet-relaxed, collaborative, idea-driven and kind team.
However you engage with our work and our team members, we thank you for your partnership in 2017. Here's to an equitable, sustainable and prosperous new year!