Kerri shows us how vast the field regional planning – and CMAP's mission – truly is. Raised in St. Louis, Kerri graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Science. She moved to Chicago to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago to pursue a degree in Urban Planning. Her goal was to be involved in the process of redeveloping contaminated properties. Kerri's Peters Fellowship at NIPC gave her hands-on experience in sustainable development and regional planning. Kerri remained with NIPC as a research assistant and eventually took a full-time position as a planner.
What attracted you to the Phillip D. Peters Regional Planning Fellowship Program?
I felt it would allow me to learn first-hand about the issues facing the region. Unlike traditional internships, I was encouraged to learn about other organizations in the region and the issues these organizations faced.
What kinds of projects did you work on during your fellowship? What benefit do you believe they contributed the Northeastern Illinois region?
I worked on two projects. The Sustainable Development Guidebook is a resource for municipalities to implement sustainable practices. Common Ground is the public participation process for the regional comprehensive plan. Getting the public involved in the planning process will help the region plan for the common good.
How did the Fellowship help to shape your career path and ambition?
The projects re-enforced the importance of public participation in the regional planning process and I continue to be an advocate for public involvement. After completing the Fellowship, I continued working at NIPC and then hired as a planner for NIPC/CMAP.
What did you find to be special about CMAP (or NIPC)?
Working at NIPC gave me exposure to a wide variety of regional issues. The staff was dedicated to improving the region and making it a better place to live.
What makes the Northeastern Illinois region a special place to work as a regional planner (or related field)?
The Chicago region is diverse, from the urban areas of Chicago and the inner suburbs, to the rural areas on the outskirts of the region. Getting everyone to work together was an exciting challenge.
What are you doing professionally now?
I am currently at home caring for my two sons – Will (2 ½ years) and Henry (4 months). I chose to stay in Chicago after graduation because it's a great city. It has all of the opportunities and experiences of other large cities, but it also has solid Midwestern values.
Why is regional planning an important function in a metropolitan region?
The only way a region can succeed is if all of its parts work together. Regional planning helps to bring everyone to the table to work together to plan for a better future