Mayor Johnson Taps New Leaders for OEMC, Department of Housing

Chicago City Hall. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)Chicago City Hall. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

The former head of the Chicago Police Department’s counterterrorism bureau will now take over as the full-time leader for the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

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Mayor Brandon Johnson on Thursday announced two new appointments, tapping Jose Tirado to serve as OEMC’s new executive director and Lissette Castañeda to serve as commissioner for the Department of Housing.

Tirado, a longtime CPD official who retired in 2021, has led the emergency management office in an interim role since April, when former chief Rich Guidice announced his retirement.

“Being able to give back to the city I was raised in is a true honor,” Tirado said in a statement. “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to continue serving the people of Chicago, and look forward to working together to create a safer city for all.”

Now that he’s officially in charge of the office, Tirado will be tasked with managing the ongoing humanitarian asylum seeker crisis and handling preparations for the upcoming Democratic National Convention in August 2024.

He previously spent more than two decades with the CPD, rising as high as third in command in the department when he was chief of the Counterterrorism and Criminal Network Group.

According to the mayor’s office, Castañeda has two decades of experience in affordable housing development, housing services and organizational leadership.

“I firmly believe that housing is a human right,” Johnson said in a statement. “Lissette has the expertise and the experience to make that right a reality for all Chicagoans. I look forward to working with her to ensure that everyone in our city has access to affordable housing and homeownership opportunities in their communities.”

Castañeda takes over for Marisa Novara, who left the city to join the Chicago Community Trust in July.

Castañeda previously worked as the executive director for LUCHA — a housing counseling agency serving residents of Humboldt Park, West Town and Logan Square — overseeing its affordable real estate portfolio and leading implementation of its strategic plan.

“Stable, affordable housing is a cornerstone of community safety, economic development and mental health,” Castañeda said in a statement. “I am honored to serve in this role where I can spearhead new housing developments while ensuring Chicagoans have the services they need to stay in their homes for the long term.”

Johnson last week appointed Tom Carney as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, Sandra Blakemore as commissioner of the Department of Human Resources and Alfonzo “Randy” Conner Jr. as commissioner of the Department of Water Management.

Following that announcement, the City Council’s Latino Caucus issued a statement calling for more Latino representation among city leadership.

“Latinos account for nearly 33% of Chicago’s population,” the caucus said. “It is imperative that our voice is heard and that top city decision makers reflect the population of those they serve.”

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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