2014 Urban Innovation Symposium

Chicago's leading planners--in one room.
UPPSA's annual Urban Innovation Symposium showcases planning knowledge from across Chicago. During a daytime session, professionals from around the region provide insight into cutting-edge ideas in physical planning, design, housing, and economic development.  At an evening event, young professionals deliver presentations in the fast-moving, visually-oriented PechaKucha®  (PK) format, and an informal atmosphere encourages attendees to get to know each other and enjoy some food and drink.  
Open to the public.

4th Annual Symposium: "Back To the City"

January 31, 2014

John Norquist
President and CEO,
Congress for the New Urbanism

John Norquist's work promoting New Urbanism as an alternative and antidote to sprawl's social and environmental problems draws on his experience as big-city mayor and prominent participant in national discussions on urban design and transportation policy.

Norquist served as Mayor of Milwaukee from 1988-2004. Under his leadership, Milwaukee experienced a decline in poverty, saw a boom in new downtown housing, and became a leading center of education and welfare reform. He oversaw a revision of the city's zoning code and reoriented development around walkable streets and public amenities such as the city's 3.1-mile Riverwalk. Named a Governing Magazine Public Official of the Year during his tenure, Norquist also received widespread recognition for championing the removal of a .8 mile stretch of elevated freeway. In 2008, he received the Bacon Prize, named for visionary Philadelphia planner Ed Bacon. 

At CNU, he has joined local activists in numerous cities as a key champion of plans to replace freeways with boulevards. A leader in national discussions of urban design and educational issues, Norquist is the author of The Wealth of Cities, and has taught courses in urban policy and planning at the University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning, and at Marquette University.

Recently, John Norquist has announced that he will step down from his position as President & CEO of Congress for New Urbanism after the 22nd Annual Congress in Buffalo in 2014. 

Bridget Gainer
Cook County Commissioner,
10th District

Bridget Gainer brings a unique perspective to civic and business life with a foot in both the public and private sectors. Bridget is the VP, Global Public Affairs for Aon and a Commissioner on the County Board, bringing over 20 years of experience in non-profit, government and corporate sectors. Bridget began her career as a community organizer in New York City; she continued that work in Chicago where she founded a community center at Senn High School. Bridget then went to work for the City of Chicago in a variety of roles focused on public private partnerships. In 2001, she began working at Aon, a global risk management firm, beginning in finance with a focus on mergers and acquisitions and treasury. She later transitioned to manage the firm’s strategic engagement with governments around the world. 

Elected to the Cook County Board in 2010, Bridget called for the creation of a Pension Committee and was appointed its first Chairman. As Chair, Ms. Gainer brought transparency to the County’s Fund and launched an open-data pension website to facilitate a real conversation for fair and sustainable pension reform. 

In 2013 Commissioner Gainer completed three years of organizing and outreach with the creation of the Cook County Land Bank, the region’s most comprehensive policy to reduce the amount and impact of vacant land and abandoned buildings throughout Cook County. The land bank is governed by a 15-member board, chaired by Commissioner Gainer. 

Commissioner Gainer’s policy work has been written about in the Wall Street Journal, New York 

Times, Crain’s and editorial boards across the region. In addition, she has been the recipient of awards from Action Now, Woodstock Institute, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, the Urban Land Institute and Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. 

A native of Chicago, Bridget lives on the North side with her husband and their three children and sits on the boards of the Big Shoulders Fund and the 100 Club of Chicago.


Mark Fick
Chicago Community Loan Fund,
Center for Workplace Democracy

Mark Fick is the Senior Loan / Program Officer with the Chicago Community Loan Fund where he is responsible for bringing financing to affordable housing, cooperatives and social enterprise development throughout the greater Chicagoland area.  Previously Mark worked as the Associate Director of the Chicago Mutual Housing Network and as Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator with the Statewide Housing Action Coalition (now Housing Action Illinois).  He is a graduate of the Urban Developers Program at the University of Illinois - Chicago.

Mark's work with grassroots community economic development began in Wisconsin while spending time with small business cooperatives, developing local currencies and learning the basics of community organizing.  Mark also serves on the credit committee of the Northside Community Federal Credit Union and as board treasurer of NASCO Development Services, a consultancy for development of affordable, student housing cooperatives in the United States and Canada.

Pamela Schallhorn
Chief Activities Officer

Pam Schallhorn is a social entrepreneur and Founder of New Urban Futures Inc. which specializes in community development. She has experience and consults in a variety of areas including: downtown revitalization; grant administration; and survey development and analysis. She also teaches a variety of unique workshops and seminars designed especially for the creative entrepreneur. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance with a minor in Economics from Northern Illinois University in 1982 and her Master’s Degree in Political Studies from University of Illinois at Springfield in 2006. She was a Vice President of Commercial Banking for a variety of regional Mid-Western banks from 1982 until 2004; and formerly the Director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Rock Valley College from 2008 until 2011.

You can find her at her blog at 

Yonah Freemark
Metropolitan Planning Council

Yonah joined MPC as an associate in 2013 and became a project manager in 2014. He currently focuses on transit-oriented development and infrastructure investment, and works on goal-driven governance, employer-assisted housing and bus rapid transit.

Yonah is a native of North Carolina. He attended Yale University as an undergraduate and then received masters' degrees in city planning and transportation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He spent two years researching community engagement in Paris and authors the national blog The Transport Politic.

Yonah thoroughly enjoys Chicago's beautiful lakefront and its residents’ friendliness and intellectual curiosity. He is a resident of Hyde Park.

Jack Eskin
Northwest Indiana Regional
Planning Commission (NIRPC)

Jack Eskin serves as a Regional Planner for the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC), where he focuses on a variety planning areas, including freight planning, land use planning, urban revitalization projects, and brownfield redevelopment. His work includes co-authoring the Northwest Indiana Regional At-Grade Crossing Study, the Creating Livable Communities Report, and the 2014 update of the Marquette Plan. Jack has also provided staff leadership for the Rail VISION Working Group, contributed project assistance to the Gary Northside Redevelopment Project, the Northwest Indiana Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund, the Illiana Corridor Study, and the Northwest Indiana Bikes on Trains Study. He earned his master's in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012, and holds a bachelor's in comparative literature from the University of Massachusetts.

Douglas Farr, AIA, LEED AP
President and CEO,
Farr Associates

Doug Farr is Founding Principal and President of Farr Associates Architecture and Urban Design, the 2012 AIA Chicago Firm of the Year. Farr is a national leader in planning and designing sustainable neighborhoods and buildings. He is also a twice-published author who lectures widely on the topics of urbanism and sustainability. Under his leadership Farr Associates designed the world’s third LEED-Platinum project, the Chicago Center for Green Technology and went on to become the first firm in the world to design three LEED Platinum buildings. To date, Farr Associates has designed and certified a total of seven LEED-Platinum buildings two of which also achieve net-zero energy and three LEED-ND Developments. 

Mr. Farr was the founding chair for a new rating system and policy, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Neighborhood Development, (LEED-ND) in coordination with the US Green Building Council, the Congress for the New Urbanism and the National Resource Defense Council. This targeted effort created a LEED rating system for developments that incorporate green and sustainable elements in their site selection.

An architecture graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia University, Doug serves on the boards of the Congress for the New Urbanism, the BioRegional Development Group, and CNT Energy. Doug authored Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature, a planning best seller that visualizes walkable, transit-served urbanism and high-performance infrastructure and buildings as the normal pattern of development in the United States by 2030.

Ed Jacob
Executive Director,
Neighborhood Housing Services

Ed Jacob assumed the top leadership position at NHS of Chicago in June 2010 after serving 10 years as CEO of the North Side Community Federal Union. He has more than 25 years of community development and lending experience. “It’s a great honor for me to join NHS,” said Jacob. “There is no better place to be if you want to preserve communities and make an impact in Chicago.” While at the North Side Community Federal Credit Union, Jacob developed nationally recognized alternatives to “Payday’ loans and other forms of predatory loans. Under his leadership, North Side CFCU doubled its assets, was recognized with the Vision Award from the Egan Campaign for Payday Loan Reform, and became the first financial institution in 10 years honored with the Chicago Neighborhood Development Award from LISC. Also during Jacob’s tenure, the North Side CFCU became a HUD-certified counseling agency.

Prior to his work at the credit union, Jacob was a Vice President in the Community Reinvestment Department for Bank One and its predecessor bank, First Chicago, with responsibility for Illinois programs. Jacob’s entire professional career has been in Chicago, including more than ten years working at various community development organizations on the city’s north side. Jacob currently serves as an Advisory Board Member of the Corporation for Supportive Housing Illinois and on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Community Loan Fund and the Chicago Community Land Trust.

In 2003, Mr. Jacob was honored by LaSalle National Bank with the Tom Gobby Community Leadership Award for his work in providing affordable credit to low ¬and moderate-income families. He received his Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Marquette University, with a BA in Political Science, Economics, and Urban Affairs.


Jeff Bone, AIA
Landon Bone Baker Architects

Jeff Bone was named Principal at Landon Bone Baker Architects in 1999. Jeff and the firm had learned early on that not all clients are the same; developers are well-versed in the design/build processes whereas non-profit community based-organizations are armed with a clear vision but do not always have an architecture vocabulary. Jeff has nurtured the firm’s “grassroots” approach to help nonprofit clients translate their vision. He and his associates regularly engage the community through charrettes, community art projects with archi-treasures, and stakeholder meetings and planning sessions.

Jeff has managed the design and construction of a wide variety of affordable multi-family developments, supportive and senior housing projects, homeless youth shelters, community centers, and non-profit agencies throughout Chicago area, including the recently completed Harvest Commons Apartments, an 89-unit development that employs green strategies for the historic preservation and adaptive reuse of a 1920s-era building and incorporates an urban farm and teaching kitchen for residents.  Currently, Jeff is working on the Diplomat SRO, a 51-unit development providing residential and supportive services for people confronting homelessness, and La Casa Norte’s comprehensive community center with permanent housing in Humboldt Park.

Brendan Saunders
Open Communities

Brendan Saunders grew up in Lake Villa, Illinois, and attended Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, to study Social Work. After graduating from Wartburg College, Brendan joined the Peace Corps, and served by teaching English in Morocco. On returning to the States, Brendan relocated to Boston where he spent four years working with the homeless, followed by relocation to Chicago to continue working with this population. While working with homeless adults, Brendan began to realize that people remain homeless for extended periods because of the lack of affordable housing. This realization prompted Brendan to study Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Presently, Brendan works at Open Communities as the Director of Advocacy and Organizing where he focuses on tenant organizing and affordable housing advocacy. In this position he has had the opportunity to form the Landlord Tenant Project, a gathering of landlords, tenants, and municipalities, to address issues in rental housing; he organized the residents of Sunset Village, a mobile home community in Glenview, Illinois; and he was able to organize advocates to pass Source of Income protection in Cook County, Illinois. Brendan sits on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization.

Steve Broadwell
City of Gary

Steve Broadwell is presently working two positions in Gary, Indiana: as GIS / Land Bank Manager for the City of Gary’s Department of Redevelopment, and as GIS Technician for the Gary Sanitary District. Tasks at the Department of Redevelopment include maintenance, analysis, mapping of the City of Gary’s land bank; analysis and recording of the Gary Parcel Survey; and other using GIS to support other City-related initiatives. Tasks at the Gary Sanitary District include database management, data analysis and verification, and formatting and presentation of maps and data. Steve received his master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy in 2013 from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a concentration in Spatial Planning, and is very excited and honored to be presenting at this year’s Pecha Kucha event.

Ben Spies
Industrial Council of 
Nearwest Chicago (ICNC)

Ben Spies is Director of Economic Development for the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago (ICNC), a nonprofit organization serving the area known as the Kinzie Industrial Corridor.  His work includes advising businesses on opportunities for expansion and workforce development, and advocating for industry on land use and other planning-related issues.  Ben is a Public Allies Chicago alumnus and is currently pursuing a certificate in Geospatial Analysis and Visualization at the University of Illinois at Chicago.