Darlene O. Hightower - Staff member - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Darlene O. Hightower

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.    

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Darlene O. Hightower President & CEO
312 863 6001

Areas of expertise

  • Organizational strategic planning
  • Health and environmental equity
  • Community outreach and programming


  • Undergraduate, Bradley University
  • Juris Doctor, Georgetown University Law Center

This page can be found online at http://www.metroplanning.org/people/staff-member/

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312 922 5616 info@metroplanning.org

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For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

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