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Our people and partners

Elevated Chicago’s work is guided, implemented and evaluated by a Steering Committee, supported by staff, informed by Working Groups, Community Tables and a Leadership Council, and funded by philanthropy and by public, private and civic organizations.

Our Structure


Elevated Chicago Staff

Juan Sebastian Arias

Chicago Community Trust
Executive Director, Elevated Chicago

Leads Elevated Chicago coalition with support from Elevated Chicago staff, Operations Committee, Steering Committee, Leadership Council and Working Groups. Full bio>>

Marly Schott Manager of Elevated Chicago professional photo

Marly Schott

Chicago Community Trust
Manager, Elevated Chicago

Supports leadership, communications and project coordination, including relationship management with Steering Committee members and 100+ partners. Full bio>>

Jannice Newson Coordinator of Elevated Chicago professional photo

Jannice Newson

Chicago Community Trust
Coordinator, Elevated Chicago

Oversees administrative tasks, budgets, event planning, social media, and climate resiliency work. Full bio>>

Steering Committee

Jacky Grimshaw

Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT)
Vice President of Government Affairs

Kate McMahon professional photo

Kate McMahon

Chicago Dept. of Public Health
Policy Director


Traci Sanders

Enterprise Community Partners
Director, Chicago Market


Janece Ortiz

Director of Programs

Kevin Sutton

Foundation for Homan Square
Executive Director

Mike Tomas

Garfield Park Community Council
Executive Director

Vickie Battle

Executive Director, Chicago Region

Chandra Christmas-Rouse

Metropolitan Planning Council
Equitable and Sustainable Community Manager

Christian Diaz

Palenque LSNA
Director of Housing

BJ Stewart

Sunshine Enterprises
Executive Director

Ghian Foreman

Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative
Executive Director

Leslé Honoré

Community activist, author and artist and youth engagement expert
Poet/Author to the Community
CEO of Urban Gateways

Alfredo Nieves-Moreno UChicago professional photo

Alfredo Nieves

UChicago Arts, Arts + Public Life
Deputy Director

Elevated Chicago Steering Committee meeting July 2023
July 2023 Elevated Chicago Steering Committee meeting celebrating 6 years of Elevated Chicago

Leadership Council

Elevated Chicago’s Leadership Council is composed of senior leaders from across the city and region who listen to our ideas and help advance systemic change to implement our work plan:

  • Chicago Department of Transportation, City of Chicago, Represented by Tom Carney, Commissioner
  • Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Represented by Erin Aleman, Executive Director
  • Chicago Transportation Authority, Represented by Denise Barreto, Chief Equity and Engagement Officer; and Molly Poppe, Chief Innovation Officer
  • City Treasurer, Represented by Melissa Conyears-Ervin, Treasurer
  • Chicago Department of Housing, City of Chicago, Represented by Lissette Castañeda, Commissioner
  • Chicago Department of Planning and Development, City of Chicago, Represented by Ciere Boatright, Commissioner
  • Chicago Department of Public Health, City of Chicago, Represented by Dr. Olusimbo Ige, Commissioner
  • Office of Mayor Brandon Johnson, City of Chicago, Represented by Umi Grigsby, Chief of Policy and Advocacy
  • Office of Mayor Brandon Johnson, City of Chicago, Represented by Kenya Merritt, Deputy Mayor
  • Rush University Medical Center, Represented by David Ansell, Senior Vice President for Community Health Equity
  • The Chicago Community Trust, Represented by Co-Chair Andrea Saenz, Chief Executive Officer

Working Groups and Community Tables

Since our launch in 2017, three working groups composed of Steering Committee members and other key stakeholders have been charged with designing and implementing strategies around 1) Capital and Programs, 2) Systems Change, and 3) Knowledge Sharing.

Inclusive Community Tables at the CTA stations we support have informed our strategies and determined our priorities in support of capital projects, programs, policies, narratives, data, and technical assistance.

In late 2019, we co-created with the Mayor’s Office of the City of Chicago the ETOD Working Group. The group is made up of about 80 people working in transit, affordable housing, community organizing, planning, public health and other issue areas. 

In 2021, we launched the JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Leadership Cohort with the Metropolitan Planning Council, an initiative for City of Chicago leaders to explore ways to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion principles into city planning. 

In 2021, we also launched the Equitable Development Ambassadors Program, an initiative with Palenque LSNA, Duo Development, and Rudd Resources to invite residents from our eHub communities to deepen their knowledge of how to influence the principles of neighborhood development with community-driven action.

Our Funders

Funding for Elevated Chicago provided by:

  • The Chicago Community Trust
  • Convergence Partnership
  • The Funders Network
  • JPMorgan Chase Foundation
  • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Square One Foundation
  • Walder Foundation
  • Builder’s Initiative
  • National Resources Defense Council
  • MetLife Foundation

Organizations that have aligned part of their funding and in-kind support with our workplan include the Chicago Dept. of Public Health, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and Enterprise Community Partners.

Previous funders include SPARCC (the Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge) — an initiative of Enterprise Community Partners, the Low Income Investment Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Funders Network