Marisa Novara - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Marisa Novara

Marisa joined MPC in 2011. She directs MPC's housing and community development work, and manages technical assistance and support to communities facing development challenges related to housing, transportation, transit-oriented development and economic development. She designed and manages the multi-year Cost of Segregation project.

Prior to MPC, Marisa spent a year in Milan, Italy, completing her master’s degree in urban planning with a focus on international community development. Her studies were informed by years of work on the ground in Chicago, most recently with Lawndale Christian Development Corporation where she directed more than $30 million in affordable rental and for-sale housing development in the North Lawndale neighborhood. 

Marisa's writing has been published by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Huffington Post, Crain's Chicago Business, Next City, the American Planning Association and Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. Her research has been featured in the Economist, New York Times, CNN, Forbes, Ebony, Bloomberg View, The Atlantic's CityLab, Curbed, Planetizen, Chicago magazine, Chicago Reader, National Public Radio, NPR's Code Switch and Chicago Public Radio.

A Michigan native, Marisa has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in sociology, master’s degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, certificate in affordable housing finance, development and management from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and master’s in urban planning from the Istituto Politecnico di Milano, where her master’s thesis explored the role that an intermediary could play in advancing the community development field in northern Italy.

Marisa serves on the Community Development Committee of The Resurrection Project, the board of Chicago United for Equity, was a 2014 Marshall Memorial fellow and a 2016 Leadership Greater Chicago fellow. She lives in Little Italy with her husband and two sons.

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  1. Aldermanic prerogative is the grease that oils the machine

Photo of Marisa Novara


Marisa Novara Vice President
312 863 6044

Areas of expertise

  • Community development and engagement
  • Affordable housing development
  • Housing policy
  • Housing finance


M.S. in Urban Planning, Istituto Politecnico di Milano
M.A. in Social Service Administration, University of Chicago
B.A. in Sociology, University of Michigan

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For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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