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2023-2024 Board of Directors
Lily brack, aicp - President
Lily Brack is a planner with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) where her work is focused on providing planning technical assistance to communities and building local government capacity. She leads several programs at CMAP including the Technical Assistance Call for Projects and the Local Government Network, and she’s heavily involved in the agency’s DEI initiatives. Lily prioritizes equity, inclusivity, and innovation in every aspect of her work.
Originally from Naperville, Lily moved to Chicago in 2018 to obtain her master's degree in urban planning from the University of Illinois at Chicago. During her time as a student, she gained municipal planning experience with the City of Evanston and the City of Des Plaines, which sparked her interest in local government capacity building. Before her time at UIC, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Purdue University and worked for a landscape architecture and planning firm in Austin, Texas.
YUN-NI TSAI - Vice President
Yunni Tsai is a development manager with Holsten Management Corporation. She came from a suburb with scarce resources facing housing, education and daycare issues, but was fortunate enough to surround herself in a small community with sufficient caring/love from each other.
That being said, Yunni has always wanted to build her community and carry along all the kindness she received along the road. She is thrilled and also grateful to become part of the WP+D board this year. Please don't hesitate to reach out and discuss how we can build the community together!!
Anna Jentz- SECRETARY
Anna is a Senior Planning Associate at Greenprint Partners, a sustainable planning and civil engineering firm. At Greenprint, she works on projects that help bring the benefits of holistic, nature-based solutions to frontline communities. She is passionate about partnering with communities to build a more sustainable and resilient future in the face of the impacts of climate change. Some of Anna’s work has included collaborating with steering committee members to prioritize green infrastructure projects in their neighborhoods, facilitating an advisory group of urban ag organizations, and supporting the development of equity-related workshop content. Prior to her role at Greenprint, she served as an AmeriCorps Service Member coordinating community garden work for the Ramsey County Department of Public Health. Anna holds a B.A in Environmental Policy from Loyola University Chicago.
LIZ KERSJES - Treasurer
Bio coming soon!
Kate Portillo, AICP - Membership
Kate has a Master's degree in Urban Planning and Policy from UIC. She transitioned to the field of Planning from a diverse professional background working in Parks and Recreation programming, social work and retail management. Prior to joining the team in Brookfield, she worked as a planning consultant to numerous regional municipalities where her experience included zoning analysis, case preparation and public hearing oversight for Planning and Zoning Commissions, code amendment, data visualization and modeling, and work on Comprehensive Plan updates. She is dedicated to advancing new development, contemporary zoning practice, walkability and sustainability initiatives in Brookfield and has a passion for municipal planning work. In her free time she enjoys camping, live music and baseball games in the summer with her family.
TAYLOR GENDEL- Membership
Taylor is a Senior Planner focused on sustainability initiatives for Lake County, IL. She graduated from UIC's Master of Urban Planning and Policy program in May 2021 with an environmental concentration. Prior to grad school, Taylor worked and volunteered with a number of environmental organizations in the Chicago region and graduated with a B.S. in environmental sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013.
ABIGAIL ROSE - Marketing
Abigail is a Senior Planner and Designer at All Together, a women-owned creative placemaking agency in Chicago, Illinois. She masterfully communicates the big picture by distilling complex issues into simple messaging and clean visuals. Her experience in graphic design, urban planning, and community engagement drives her passion to better inform policy and create authentic, viable places and solutions. As a painter and muralist, Abigail loves creatively capturing the energy of a place and its community through placemaking. As a planner, she works side-by-side with the community to bring designs to life.
IRENE HENRY - marketing
Irene is an urban planner with Confluence, a landscape architecture and planning firm, and graduated in 2022 from the University of Illinois-Chicago with a Master’s of Urban Planning and Policy. Irene is passionate about getting people out of cars and into the public realm for connection, collaboration, and community. She has a background in music, studying French horn at St. Olaf College and learning how to build bridges across divergent backgrounds and beliefs through shared musical experiences. Irene loves discussing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and cool public spaces and how they’re part of the solution to climate change, systemic inequity, and social isolation.
mercedes miley, AIA, CPHC, NCARB, LEED Green Associate - professional development
Mercedes has a background in architecture, development, and urban design—leading to a comprehensive approach to problem solving that touches on all aspects of the built environment. She is an Associate Principal at Farr Associates, a sustainability-focused firm striving to advance green infrastructure across communities, and the Co-Founder of Home 42, a development company focused on equitable and compassionate landlordship. Her practice includes the advancement of women, especially young women and girls, into design spaces.
Throughout her career Mercedes has promoted women and girls to reach for their dreams. She has 23 years of service to the Girl Scouts of America and a long-history of tutoring and mentoring young women with similar organizations. She would love to connect with you wherever you are on your journey to great things.
Kelsey zlevor - professional development
Bio coming soon!
Rashanah Baldwin- PROGRAMS
Bio coming soon!
DIANE BURNHAM - programs
Over the past ten years, Diane Burnham has become a familiar face in the midsouth region of Chicago serving as a community leader and public figure in her role as the Executive Director of the South East Chicago Commission (SECC). In 2013, Diane began her journey working at SECC focusing her efforts on community-based initiatives, such as arts/culture, business district improvement programs, and community beautification, placemaking and sustainability.
In 2017, Diane was named the sixth Executive Director in the organization’s 70+ year history. She successfully transitioned the SECC in financially divesting from the University of Chicago, rebranding the organization, and leading the organization into a new path and future. As of 2023, Diane has doubled the organization’s budget, diversified funding streams, grown the staff team and focused on the organization’s infrastructure. She has been described as both genuine and authentic in her approach to leadership and community engagement.
Diane holds a Master of Management and Nonprofit Administration from North Park University in Chicago and a Master of Science in Urban Studies from the University of Wisconsin.