Roberto Requejo, the founding director of Elevated Chicago, will step down from his role as executive director on May 3, 2024. His transition was announced at the January 2024 meeting of the Elevated Chicago steering committee.
This leadership change comes after seven years of Roberto’s dedicated and zealous service to the Elevated Chicago coalition and an immeasurable commitment to the ideals of equitable transit-oriented development (ETOD). Since the 2017 launch of Elevated Chicago, both the organization and the impact of ETOD (as a societal benefit) have grown, and Roberto has been the leading steward.
During his tenure, Elevated Chicago has witnessed remarkable growth and numerous accomplishments in Chicago and nationally. Key achievements under Roberto’s leadership include:
- Growing the Elevated Chicago coalition from its initial footprint around seven CTA stations into an initiative supporting 50+ transit-oriented locations citywide, tripling the initial organizational budget and expanding funders from two to 10.
- Partnering with three successive mayoral administrations to successfully advocate for the adoption of the City’s ETOD Policy Plan, the passage of the Connected Communities ordinance, and the commitment of $1B+ in capital investments for ETOD, all of them currently in place.
- Launching innovative programs, including Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI), Nature Near Transit, Equitable Development Ambassadors, and Elevated Works, the only initiative in the nation combining federal and philanthropic dollars to provide free technical assistance and capital to ETOD developers.
- Growing a nationwide movement and elevating Chicago’s profile in ETOD by working with national organizations, federal government, and advocates from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver, the Bay Area and Memphis as part of the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) from 2017 to 2022 and now with its legacy organization, the National Equitable Recovery Alliance (NERA).
- Earning Elevated Chicago a national award from HUD’s Secretary and the Council of Foundations, and a regional award from the Active Transportation Alliance.
“Now is a great time for ETOD in Chicago. There are diverse developers who see the value of creating new housing and commercial spaces near transit. This week’s announcement of a second round of ETOD grants by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development keeps the momentum going. I’m proud of the work I’ve done to contribute to where ETOD is today, and excited for the groundbreakings and ribbon-cuttings to come.”
Elevated Chicago’s Operations Committee is starting a thorough search for Roberto’s successor and he will serve as an advisor through 2024 to facilitate the transition. He wants “an exit based on gratitude, abundance and opportunity” that allows a new leader to step into stable and well-funded operations with a strong staff, solid partnerships, and an engaged leadership circle.
“I’ve worked for 25 years in two countries and in 10+ different jobs,” Roberto said, “but it’s been this one that has taught me the greatest lessons, welcoming my ideas enthusiastically, and giving me the ability to make the kind of collective impact on equity that we can see and feel across the city.”
Elevated Chicago’s Operations Committee is committed to a seamless transition of responsibilities and to minimizing the time between Roberto’s departure and the start of a new executive director.The search for a new leader is being managed with support from Operations Committee member The Chicago Community Trust, and the job description will be posted at cct.org in early February.