The Metropolitan Planning Council has hired its first Black president and CEO. The nonprofit, which began in 1934, is an independent planning and policy organization that seeks to build a more sustainable and equitable Chicago. Darlene Hightower joined “Chicago Tonight: Black Voices” for a one-on-one conversation.
“I was really attracted to the mission of the organization like this idea of creating a more equitable and prosperous region where everybody thrives, that's a personal mission for me, and so that's what attracted me to the job.”
Hightower will be leaving Rush University Medical Center where she is the Vice President of Community Health Equity.
“As a part of my role, we look at the social factors that impact health, so we're looking at, you know, the built environment of neighborhoods, and are they walkable, are they safe? What is the level of community economic development that's happening in these neighborhoods and these are issues that lend themselves to the role at MPC.”
Hightower starts her new job at MPC in January. She says her first step is listening to staff members and stakeholders to get a better understanding of what needs to be addressed. However, affordable housing is a top priority.
“When we talk about affordable housing that's something that's critically important, stable housing impacts family wealth, It impacts how a community thrives, so that's definitely important, and then this idea of economic development is important too, what do our neighborhoods look like? How are we investing in them, what kind of projects are happening in them to make them have the kind of economic vitality that we want to see.”