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Daley 'here at least in spirit' at CNDA

Exiting Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was unable to attend the 17th Annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards ceremony, but his presence was felt in ways tangible and intangible, from the renaming of the Friend of the Neighborhoods Award in his honor, to his replacement as keynote speaker with an interim city commissioner who’s no stranger to CNDA and LISC/Chicago.

Photo: Juan Francisco Hernandez

“The mayor saw neighborhood groups … as partners to strengthen communities and better our city," said Lori Healey, LISC/Chicago board chair and former chief of staff to Daley.

LISC/Chicago Board Chair Lori Healey, principal at The John Buck Company and a former chief of staff to Daley, opened the proceedings by reflecting on how many observers had thought cities were in decline 22 years ago when the mayor took office. “It may be hard to remember,” she said. “The mayor saw neighborhood groups … as partners to strengthen communities and better our city.”

Andrew Mooney, the interim commissioner of the city’s newly reorganized Department of Housing and Economic Development who spoke in Daley’s place, was previously familiar to many in attendance as Executive Director of LISC/Chicago. (He’s on leave from LISC/Chicago until June, as he manages the new city department.)

“As you can imagine, I am suffering from a bit of an identity crisis,” Mooney said to laughter, adding: “I’m not sure which hat I’m wearing, and I’m not sure it matters.”

Recalling Daley’s speeches at previous CNDA ceremonies, Mooney said, “His impassioned remarks on the topics of the day were always in the highlight of the evening.” Regarding the newly renamed Richard M. Daley Friend of the Neighborhoods Award, bestowed upon Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Mooney added: “The mayor is deeply honored and grateful to be associated with this particular award.”

Mooney summarized a handful of Daley’s most significant impacts on the city, including his “courageous decisions” to take over the previously separate Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Housing Authority, the construction of Millenium Park along the downtown lakefront, and the “green thumb” that led to tree plantings and median flowerbeds throughout the city.

More broadly, Mooney said, “The mayor made us believe in ourselves as a great city, a world-class city. The president of China stopping here … is a testament to that. He balanced what we did on the world stage with what we needed to do at home in our neighborhoods. All this makes Chicago a city where people want to live.”

(The CNDA event included a series of 20-minute interviews with four candidates to replace Daley: Rahm Emanuel, Gery Chico, Miguel Del Valle, and Carol Moseley Braun. For more on that, please click here.)

Photo: Juan Francisco Hernandez

"You are the spirit of individuality," said Christopher G. Kennedy, president of Merchandise Mart Properties. "Community development preserves a range of choices.”

The appeal of Chicago and its homegrown neighborhood character was also underscored by opening speaker Christopher G. Kennedy, president of Merchandise Mart Properties, whose mother, Ethel, hailed from the South Side.

“I am a transplant to Chicago, and I am a convert,” he said. “I love Chicago, and I love community development in Chicago. You are the spirit of individuality. Community development preserves a range of choices.”

City neighborhoods have a range of needs, from stronger schools to more and better-paying jobs, and “community groups are a huge lever to accomplish every one of those goals,” Kennedy added. From the perspective of the Merchandise Mart, “Chicago neighborhoods are our single greatest competitive advantage. I want to thank those who have made it so.”

Awards to Preckwinkle, 2 NCP-related efforts
In presenting the renamed award to Preckwinkle—former 4th Ward Alderman and chair of NCP lead agency Quad Communities Development Corp.—Healey said Mayor Daley “is here, at least in spirit.” She added of Preckwinkle, “This year’s winner has worked her entire life to improve underserved communities.”

Preckwinkle thanked QCDC for its work in the Bronzeville area, Daley “for his commitment to all the things that strengthen communities, and all of you for all your good work that makes our city, our country, and our neighborhoods vibrant and strong.”

Two other awardees have close ties to NCP: The PrivateBank Norman Bobins Leadership Award went to Rob and Amy Castaneda of Beyond the Ball, which has been a key partner to the summer Hoops in the Hood program in several NCP neighborhoods; and The Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community Strategy of the Year Award, which went to the Greater Humboldt Park Community of Wellness, which arose out of the NCP planning process.

Larry Richman of The PrivateBank introduced the Castanedas as community leaders who help young people reach for their dreams in a safe environment. “They use athletics to teach and inspire young people,” Richman said. “They’ve integrated athletics into community.”

Photo: Juan Francisco Hernandez

In accepting the Richard M. Daley Friend of the Neighborhoods Award, Cook County Board Chair Toni Preckwinkle thanked "everyone in this room" for their work to strengthen the city and its neighborhoods.

Rob Castaneda reflected that sports was a big part of the Castanedas’ life growing up and that they knew gang boundaries were stopping youth from participating in activities that required crossing those boundaries.

“We teach personal and social responsibility through sport,” he said. “We see amazing things through this work, and we’re excited about where it’s going.”

In presenting the award to Greater Humboldt Park Community of Wellness, Michael Lewis of Harris Bank pointed out that “community development is much more than construction.” Terry Mazany, interim Chicago Public Schools CEO and Chicago Community Trust president and CEO, added that the award was created “to recognize efforts which embody comprehensive community development and bring a new perspective.”

Juana Ballesteros, director of the Community of Wellness, summed up the genesis and results of its efforts, centered around the creation of the Greater Humboldt Park Diabetes Empowerment Center, with the famed quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Rest of the Presentation
The evening ceremony included five other awards to seven organizations:

PCC Community Wellness Center received The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Outstanding Non-Profit Real Estate Project for its PCC Austin Family Health Center. Presenter Tony Smith of PNC Bank described the center as providing “accessible quality health care and sustainable building practices.”

Heartland Housing Inc. was awarded The Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award for Hollywood House Apartments. Presenter Nikki Will Stein of Polk Brothers Foundation said the award recognized “those working to maintain rental housing who inspire others to emulate their efforts.”

Holsten Real Estate Development Corp. won The Outstanding For-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project Award for Wilson Yard, centered on a two-story Target. Presenter Kristine Jurmu of Bank of America gave a nod to Holsten’s “innovation and tenacity” in describing why they won. Ald. Helen Shiller (46th) noted that the store’s parking lot is never full but the store always is—a testament to its success as a transit-oriented development.

GoodCity was honored with the Special Recognition Award for its work in supporting a diverse panoply of 120 entrepreneurs get started with their businesses. “We are excited about GoodCity’s future,” said former grantee Ruth Kimball, who founded the Austin Child Care Providers Network and now sits on the GoodCity board.

Photo: Juan Francisco Hernandez

The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation once again presented three awards for architectural excellence in community design.

Three organizations received The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design: Hartshore Plunkard Architecture was awarded third place for Teen Living Programs, Booth Hansen received second place for Chicago Park District Fieldhouses, and John Ronan Architects won first place for Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School.

Richard H. Driehaus, of the foundation that bears his name, said that while the subject of Chicago architecture often calls to mind the downtown skyline, “It’s so much more. It’s how the city’s residents interact with their environment every day in their neighborhoods.”

The Teen Living project created 25 beds for teens out of only 189 citywide, with an estimated 5,000 turned away every year. Hartshorne Plunkard’s work in designing the building “has greatly enhanced the community,” said Sunny Fischer of The Driehaus Foundation.

The award for the park district fieldhouse project, an update of the iconic structures that mostly date to the 1920s and 1930s, is “very prestigious and very meaningful,” said George Halik of Booth Hansen. “The real measure of a successful project … is the impact on the lives of people it’s meant to serve.”

The Christ the King project reminds us this “great design is both functional and inspirational,” Driehaus said. Added Christopher Devron of the school, “This building is truly dedicated to God’s greater glory.”

Healey ended the ceremony on a melancholy note by asking for a moment of silence in honor of someone who recently met his maker: Bishop Arthur M. Brazier, the longtime Woodlawn community leader who died in October.

“Bishop Brazier will forever be remembered for his belief and dedication to the revitalization of Chicago neighborhoods,” Healey said. “His presence will be missed, but his legacy will live on.”

Click here to view videos of this year's award winners.

Click here to read more about them in the event program book.

Click here to see news coverage about CNDA. 

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