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The Friend of the Neighborhoods Award

In this city of neighborhoods and neighborhood heroes, there are a few whose work has touched virtually every community. This year’s winner of the Friend of the Neighborhoods Award, Valerie B. Jarrett, is one such leader. Committed to the communities where she was raised and to the city for which she worked as an attorney, a deputy chief of staff, Commissioner of Planning and Development, Chairman of the CTA  and CEO of The Habitat Company, Valerie has left an indelible mark on Chicago.

Long an advocate for community-led revitalization, as Planning Commissioner she encouraged joint City-community planning and created SNAP, the precursor to today’s New Communities Program. Leaving the City to assume a leadership role at The Habitat Company, Valerie took her lessons with her. As evidenced throughout the city, she has employed vision and experience to help the Plan for Transformation of the CHA realize its goal of rebuilding neighborhoods as well as lives. So, too, at the CTA did Valerie use her leadership skills to ensure that transit was used to strengthen neighborhoods and improve access to jobs and services.

A long-time member of both the Chicago and National LISC boards, Valerie has shared her wisdom for nearly 20 years and has helped o shape the organization that LISC is today. A valued member of a dozen other boards from the University of Chicago to the Chicago Stock Exchange, it is no surprise that her guiding hand has helped the nation elect our first Chicago rooted, community organizing President.

For her ongoing dedication across the public and private sectors to changing the city’s landscape and strengthening its neighborhoods, Valerie B. Jarrett is named this year’s Friend of the Neighborhoods.