Thank you for joining us for Invisible Lines — The Legacy of Redlining in Chicago on February 15, 2023. We hope you enjoyed the in-depth conversation that explored the ways that historic redlining has shaped our current state of housing and segregation across the Chicago region, as well as the work being done to address the impacts facing communities most affected. We hope you accept our challenge to consider how you can advance this work moving forward.
View photos from the in-person event on our Flickr page.
We hope you'll join us next May for our next installment of the Neighborhood Exchange Series. Sign up to join the mailing list.
For questions, contact United Way Public Programs.
Marisa Novara was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Housing (DOH) by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot in May 2019. Believing that housing is a human right, Commissioner Novara directs the City’s efforts to create equitably distributed affordable housing across Chicago’s 77 community areas through policies, development, and legislation.
As Chair of the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Response Team, Novara led the effort to secure 1,200 hotel rooms and 900 additional shelter beds to meet the needs presented by the pandemic. Novara ensured the passage of 8 bills in three years, while leading the country’s first Racial Equity Impact Assessment (REIA) of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit developments.
Before joining the City, Novara was vice president of the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC). During her eight-year tenure at MPC, Novara designed and managed the Cost of Segregation project, a 2017 study that concluded how decades-old patterns of racial and economic segregation cost the Chicago region an estimated $4.4 billion in additional income each year. She also led the subsequent creation of the region’s first comprehensive guide to a more racially equitable future, among other reports, studies and articles.
Prior to MPC, Novara directed affordable rental and for-sale housing development for Lawndale Christian Development Corp. in the North Lawndale community, where she lived and worked for more than a decade.
Darlene Oliver Hightower, J.D.
Darlene Oliver Hightower, J.D., is President & CEO of Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), an independent nonpartisan regional planning and policy organization. Darlene leads the organization’s strategic vision, shaping ambitious goals that will strengthen the impact of MPC’s work within the region. Throughout her career, Darlene has been a tireless advocate for equity.
Previously, Darlene served as VP, Community Health Equity at Rush University Medical Center. Darlene also led the development of West Side United, a cross-sector, collaborative aimed at improving health and economic vitality on Chicago’s West Side. Her leadership in health equity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic was nationally recognized, as Darlene was honored in 2020 as a U.S. News and World Report Health Care Hero.
Chris joined the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) in July of 2016 as its Director of Operations. His work at SWOP covers fundraising, communications, human resources, program management, and other tasks that support the community organizing work of SWOP. After eight years of working as a program director at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Chris joined SWOP to get back to his community organizing roots.
Previously, Chris has worked as an organizer, funder, program manager, and researcher. Having grown up in Missouri, Chris is a St. Louis Cardinals fan and loves talking about baseball.
Commissioner Marisa Novara
City of Chicago Department of Housing Read Bio
Darlene Oliver Hightower, J.D.
President & CEO,
Metropolitan Planning Council
Director of Operations,
Southwest Organizing Project Read Bio