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2020-2021 Board of Directors
Janet Li - President
Janet Li is proud to serve as WP+D’s President. She collaborates with the Board of Directors to create professional development, networking, and engagement opportunities for members, coronavirus be damned. In her WP+D off hours, she is the Service Programs Analyst for Full Circle Communities and supports the Real Estate Development and Property Management teams in the research and analysis of current and proposed service provision at Full Circle’s properties. Prior to Full Circle, she worked in the Office of Resident Services at the Chicago Housing Authority.
Like fellow Board member Sasha De La Cruz (fellow ‘08er!), Janet is a graduate of Barnard College. She received her master’s degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.
Haley Cannon - Vice President
Haley Cannon is a Program Associate in Property Preservation at Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Chicago’s Redevelopment Corporation. She assists in NHS’s neighborhood revitalization efforts through vacant property stabilization and occupied property preservation by working closely with the city and other local community stakeholders in programs like the Troubled Building Initiative and the Micro Market Recovery Program.
Prior to starting with NHS, Haley obtained an MA in Sustainable Urban Development at DePaul University. During her academic career at DePaul, she worked with the Congress for the New Urbanism coordinating programs in urban planning and design, and then later worked with the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development organizing and moderating events in community development for the Chicagoland area.
Before coming to Chicago, Haley graduated in Environmental Studies from Central College in Pella, Iowa and then worked for a year at Green Iowa AmeriCorps in Des Moines, Iowa. During her time in Americorps, she worked with public and private partners and community organizations to develop and implement residential energy efficiency educational programs. Haley can be found with coffee in one hand and a map in the other, exploring a nature trail or strolling the city streets.
Lenese Clark - SEcretary
After completing her Masters of Public Administration from the University of Illinois Chicago, Lenese Clark (she/her) continued her passion for socioeconomic impact within higher education. In joining the Rustandy Center of Social Sector Innovation at the Chicago Booth School of Business, Lenese supports the center’s internal operations and strategic initiatives. In her 6+ years of experience in higher ed, she has worked with three well-renowned institutions, leading the development and implementation of operational procedures related to human resources, financial management, strategic planning, and administrative support.
She was referred to Women in Planning + Development due to her unwavering interest in creating more access to professional networks for women of color. In collaboration with the Board of Directors, Lenese strives to bring an operational approach to the needs of the secretary position for WP+D to promote efficiency and equity across the organization’s goals.
EstEFAny Noria - Treasurer
Estefany is a Project Analyst at Full Circle Communities, where she supports the real estate development team in all stages of housing development. Prior to joining Full Circle Communities, she was an Associate at S.B. Friedman Development Advisors, where her work focused on financial and spatial analyses related to public-private partnerships.
Estefany holds a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Duke University.
Em Hall - Marketing
Em Hall (she/her) brings over a decade of award-winning experience to her role as Marketing Chair for WP+D. In her day job as Communications Manager at Wight & Company, she takes an integrated approach to building a best-in-class communications strategy designed to elevate the brand and cultivate partnerships with industry influencers and the media. As a PhD student in Urban Planning at UIC, Em combines cutting-edge research with creative storytelling to convey her passion for building equitable spaces and places that are accessible to all.
Em also volunteers with WTS International’s Transportation YOU mentoring program, which introduces young women to careers in transportation. You can find her riding her bike around Pilsen or taking the Amtrak to destinations near and far.
Mackenzie Drosd - Membership
Mackenzie Drosd is excited to serve as the Membership Co-chair WP+D and is looking forward to connecting with colleagues across the many industries that make up the WP+D membership. Mackenzie serves as the Manager of Programs & Membership at the Illinois Housing Council, working to increase the affordable housing stock across the state.
Originally from San Francisco, CA, Mackenzie moved to Chicago in 2008 to attend college at Loyola University Chicago. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with minors in Environmental Action and Leadership, and History. Mackenzie received her master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Sasha De La Cruz - Professional Development
As WP+D’s Professional Development Co-Chair, Sasha hopes to create connections that foster community and an exchange of ideas for women in all phases of their careers. While in graduate school at the College of Urban Planning and Policy at UIC, Sasha organized all of the professional development events for the Graduate Students leading up to and including Internship Connection, an all day event connecting over 20+ employers to 50+ participating students through a series of short interviews.
Prior to returning to graduate school, Sasha spent 10 years working in real estate development, financing, and management. Sasha is currently a project manager with Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), in the Chicago office. She helps the Chicago team in all aspects of development from initial acquisition through stabilization and conversion. She also serves on the board of the Barnard College regional alumni club and loves connecting with alumni and WPD members.
Brittanii’ Batts - Programs
Brittanii’ serves as Associate Manager of Projects and Research at National Main Street Center. She is a liaison with potential awardees and potential borrowers. She implements grant reporting schedules, tracks loan repayments, and reviews loan applications and their processes. Working collaboratively with the team, Brittanii’ vets potential revitalization related projects and tracks improvement in loan agreements.
Working closely with the Vice President of Revitalization Programs, Brittanii’ is helping to expand NMSC’s research objectives using GIS data analysis and visualization. Prior to joining 2019, she worked in telecommunication development and served as a community organizer for traffic-infrastructure improvements projects on the West Side of Chicago. Brittanii’ has a background in environmental biology and urban planning, earning an M.A. in Urban Planning and Policy with a Geospatial Analysis and Visualization Certificate from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.S. in Integrative Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Rachel Groat - Programs
Rachel is pleased to serve her second term as Programs Co-Chair. Originally from the Chicago area, Rachel moved to Houston to attend Rice University. After graduating with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Art she served in the aerospace industry as a project engineer. Later she returned to school, attending the University of Houston and earning a M.S. in Construction Management. While a graduate student, she joined the Houston Housing Working Group, advocating locally for affordable housing. Additionally, Rachel spent time as a volunteer child advocate for children in the foster care system.
Recently relocating back to her hometown of Chicago, Rachel is pleased to be a part of the Walsh construction team. She is now serving as the project engineer for a 70-unit, affordable housing building breaking ground this fall. At Walsh, she plans to continue advocating for affordable housing.
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