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The Richard M. Daley Friend of the Neighborhoods Award

It is nearly impossible to overstate the importance of this year’s awardee’s contributions to Chicago. First a teacher, then a real estate executive, Julia Stasch’s innovative leadership in government and philanthropy has demonstrated the profound difference that one individual can make. As Commissioner of the City’s Department of Housing and later as Chief of Staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley, her leadership has changed the face and fate of neighborhoods. Her leadership of the City’s now-standard collaborative process for creating five-year plans for affordable housing brought critical focus and financial resources to Chicago’s neighborhoods. It was her visionary role in the rethinking of public housing that created the Plan for Transformation which has brought new opportunity and hope to many residents as well as to communities that once languished in the shadow of the isolating and troubled high rises.

As Vice President of US Programs for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Julia has invested in a broad range of activities and programs that support Chicago neighborhoods, including LISC Chicago’s New Communities Program. While maintaining a sharp focus on Chicago, Julia’s leadership is evident in numerous national programs and efforts that address the critical issues of our nation’s fiscal future, juvenile justice, housing policy, digital media and learning, among many others.

No listing of programs, however, can adequately capture all that our awardee has contributed to Chicago. When describing the impact of new support for a civic project, a local leader recently said, “It’s because of Julia Stasch. Everything is because of Julia Stasch.”

For her vision and commitment in strengthening Chicago’s – and the nation’s – communities, Julia Stasch is this year’s Richard M. Daley Friend of the Neighborhoods.