MPC welcomes eight new Board members in 2020 - Metropolitan Planning Council

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MPC welcomes eight new Board members in 2020

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photo of Ellen Carnahan

Ellen Carnahan

CHICAGO, IL – The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) Board of Governors has elected eight new members, re-elected 16 members, and re-elected the current slate of officers, including Chair Ellen Carnahan, Principal at Machrie Enterprises LLC, who is completing the first year of a two-year term.

In 2020, MPC's priorities will be deepening community relations and engagement; advancing solutions to address lead in water at the state, city and suburban levels; expanding local government technical assistance; piloting new innovations in stormwater infrastructure; implementing accessible and equitable recommendations from the Toward Universal Mobility report; improving processes for citywide and regional planning; embedding the Great Rivers vision into Lightfoot Administration priorities; and implementing racial equity frameworks and policy recommendations.

We're excited to welcome our new members, whose professional backgrounds, accomplishments, and expertise in their given fields are an invaluable addition to our Board. Inclusivity, equity, and diversity are core organizational values. The Council is enormously proud that we’ve increased the diversity of our Board with the election of eight new members. Many thanks to the Nominations Committee, and especially to our Vice Chair Ann Drake, for their help in selecting and recruiting such a stellar incoming class!

"Reflecting the strength of the diversity of our region, as well as MPC's commitment to equity, this incoming class enhances our leadership team. MPC's Board of Governors is now 38% women and 33% People of Color." - MarySue Barrett, MPC President

MPC is excited to welcome the following eight people to our Board of Governors for a 2020-to-2022 three-year term:

Erica Marquez Avitia

Erica Marquez Avitia

Erica Marquez Avitia, Chief Operating Officer, Old Mission Capital, LLC

Erica Marquez Avitia is the Chief Operating Officer of Old Mission Capital LLC.    In this role, she works with the Managing Partners to advance the organization’s vision, strategic priorities and growth goals.   She is responsible for developing and implementing value enhancing processes for global business units. 

Prior to joining Old Mission Capital LLC in 2012, she was a Vice President at Goldman Sachs & Co. in their Securities Servicing Division.   Responsible for managing relationships with some of the premier liquidity providers in the equities and option space, she found a calling for helping clients build out their businesses within the investment industry.  

In addition to her love of finance and entrepreneurial efforts, she has served on several Board of Directors including Innovative AV Systems, Mujeres Latinas en Acción and ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals for America). Erica earned a Bachelor of Science in finance from DePaul University and resides in Chicago, IL with her husband and three daughters.   

image of Carole Brown

Carole Brown

Carole Brown, Chief Change Management & Risk Officer, PNC

Carole L. Brown was appointed Chief Financial Officer of the City of Chicago in May of 2015, where she served until Spring 2019. Prior to joining the City, Carole had a 25+-year career as one of the leading municipal finance investment bankers in the country. Earlier, Carole served as a Managing Director at Barclays Capital, serving as the Senior Investment Banker for local and national municipal clients including the City of Chicago, the District of Columbia, the City of Atlanta, the States of Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Indiana. Prior to joining Barclays, Carole was employed with Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., LLC and Mesirow Financial. She joined Mesirow after a 10-year career as Managing Director at Lehman Brothers.

She came to Chicago in 1986 to attend Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, where she received a Master’s degree in Management in 1989. For six and half years, Carole served as Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority Board, a position she held through September 2009. As CTA Chair, Carole oversaw policy for the nation’s second largest transportation agency. She was a member of the Transition Team for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, served as Chairman of his TIF Reform Panel, and was one of his appointees to the Board of the Regional Transportation Authority. Carole is a native of Baltimore and a graduate of Harvard College. She is a 2002 Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and was named that organization’s 2007 Distinguished Fellow.

image of Eileen Chin

Eileen Chin

Eileen Chin, President, R.M. Chin & Associates

Eileen Chin serves as President & CEO of R.M. Chin & Associates, Inc. (R.M. Chin), a Chicago-based professional services firm providing Owner’s Representation, Project/Program, Construction Management and Engineering Consulting services in the transportation, aviation, and building sectors. R.M. Chin is a certified Minority/Women/Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. Eileen leads the firm’s strategic planning, business development, and client relations. She oversees a senior team that is responsible for project delivery, operations, corporate communications, information technology, and finance. Eileen joined R.M. Chin in 2004 as Vice President of Corporate Services, responsible for business development and corporate communications. She was promoted to Executive Vice President in 2009 adding management of corporate operations, finance, and strategic planning to her responsibilities. Since joining the firm, Eileen has led the firm’s expansion, adding new service lines, sectors served and geographic expansion. 

Eileen’s commitment to the community and diversity is evident in her numerous civic and community affiliations. Eileen serves on the Advisory Board for the Chicago Chapter of WTS (Women’s Transportation Seminar) and is Co-Chair of the Association of Asian American Construction Enterprises organization (AACE). She also serves as on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Sinfonietta, the nation’s most diverse symphonic orchestra – promoting inclusion and diversity in the arts.

image of Zena Diggs

Zena Diggs

Zena Diggs, Senior Vice President, Bank of America

Zena Diggs is a Senior Vice President in Bank of America’s Commercial Real Estate Division where she manages a portfolio of Chicago, New York, and Southern California based real estate private equity companies. During her 15-year tenure at Bank of America, Zena has successfully underwritten over $40 billion of corporate and commercial real estate loans with over 50 national and international clients, resolved a multi-million dollar portfolio of distressed real estate debt, and has successfully lead several division-wide initiatives. 

Prior to joining Bank of America in 2004, Zena served as an Equity Research Associate at Citigroup in Stamford, CT where she was responsible for identifying and formulating new investment ideas, performing fundamental security analysis, and issuing investment recommendations for buy-side investors in the technology sector. Zena also worked as an Auditor with Deloitte & Touché in New York City examining various financial services firms.

In addition to her professional endeavors, Zena is on the Board of the Brookfield Zoo, serving as the Co-Chair of the Governing Member Ambassadors and a member of the Strategic Planning Committee. She also serves on the board of the Real Estate Lenders Association, and is a member of the Urban Land Institute’s Chicago Product Council, National Black MBA Association, Real Estate Finance Forum, and the City Club of Chicago. Zena graduated from Florida A&M University where she earned a Master’s of Business Administration with a concentration in finance. In her spare time, Zena enjoys reading, international travel, volunteering, and cycling.

Martha Linsley, Executive Director, Morgan Stanley 

Martha Linsley

Martha Linsley

Martha Linsley is an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley’s investment bank, focusing on tax-exempt financings. As a senior banker, her primary responsibilities include presenting innovative and responsible financing ideas to key municipal decision makers, leading the internal development of complex financial analyses, and managing deal teams. She has experience structuring a broad array of municipal financings, including K-12 education, general obligation, airport, water, sewer, and lease revenue financings. Martha has led borrowings and refinancings on behalf of numerous clients throughout the Midwest, including the Cities of and sister agencies in Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Indianapolis and the States of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

Martha holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with distinction from the University of Michigan – Stephen M. Ross School of Business. She lives in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago with her husband and two children. Martha is the former President of Women in Public Finance (WPF), a national professional networking, mentoring, and educational organization in the public finance industry that seeks to advance women’s leadership opportunities. She also served on the WPF Strategy Planning Committee tasked with developing and implementing a five-year strategic roadmap to expand WPF’s reach and remain relevant to women in the industry. In addition to her work with WPF, Martha has volunteered at many Chicago Marathons, served on Next Generation Leadership Advisory Council for Chicago's 2016 Olympic Bid, supported Mayor Emanuel's Tax Increment Financing Task Force, and participated in many Ounce of Prevention events.

image of Sameer Patel

Sameer Patel

Sameer Patel, Partner, Holland & Knight

Sameer V. Patel is a partner in Holland & Knight's Chicago office. He practices in the area of tax incentive financing with a particular focus on the syndication of new markets tax credits, state tax credits and historic rehabilitation tax credits. Sameer primarily represents institutional investors, community development entities and developers on using tax credits to finance economic development and historic rehabilitation projects. He provides comprehensive counsel to clients using his extensive tax and real estate knowledge. In addition to his legal work, Sameer is a frequent speaker at industry conferences on tax-related topics.

Sameer is a graduate of Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, where he received his J.D. Before that, he was enrolled at DePaul University, where he received a B.S. in Information Systems. Sameer is a member of the American Bar Association and Novogradac New Markets Tax Credit Working Group.

image of Emma Rodriguez-Ayala

Emma Rodriguez-Ayala

Emma Rodriguez-Ayala, Partner, Faegre Baker Daniels

Emma Rodriguez-Ayala is an investment management attorney, with a business-minded and solutions-oriented approach to counseling clients. Emma leverages both in-house and private practice perspectives to assist investment advisers and investors throughout the U.S. on legal, regulatory, compliance and corporate matters. She has experience working on sophisticated international investment management matters. The combination of Emma’s investment management expertise with her community-driven work has positioned her as an impact investing leader, assisting investment managers, nonprofits and other entities with structuring and offering investment funds that deliver both economic and social impact returns. Most recently, she has been at the forefront of advising on Qualified Opportunity Funds and their investments in Opportunity Zones, as provided by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Emma’s ambitious bucket list includes competing in a professionally timed race in every U.S. state (with the motto of “just finish alive”) and hiking all U.S. national parks. She is making solid progress – she has already competed in the Chicago Marathon and over 10 half-marathons and has hiked in one-third of the national parks (and has the spider bites to prove it).

image of Unmi Song

Unmi Song

Unmi Song, President & Secretary, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation

Unmi Song is President of the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, a private foundation that supports nonprofits serving low-income communities in Chicago. The Fry Foundation focuses its grantmaking in the areas of Arts Learning, Education, Employment, and Health.  Across all of its funding areas, the foundation's focus is on helping organizations: Build capacity to enhance the quality of services and better assess the impact of programs; Develop successful program innovations that other organizations in the field can learn from or adopt; and share knowledge so that information which can help low-income communities and individuals is widely and readily available. The Foundation is especially interested in testing new ideas that will advance knowledge or practice in the fields in which its grantees work.   Addressing needs of the Chicago community since 1983, it has assets of $180 million and awards $8 million in grants annually.

Unmi received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Chicago and continued her education at the University's Graduate School of Business, obtaining an M.B.A. in Finance and International Business. Unmi has many affiliations with philanthropic and nonprofit organizations.  She was appointed by President Obama to serve on the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. She has served on the boards of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Donors Forum of Illinois, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, and she has served as board chair for the Asian American Justice Center, the nation's leading Pan-Asian American civil rights group.

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