Raised on Chicago's southwest side, Monica enrolled in the Urban Planning and Policy Graduate Program at the University of Illinois, Chicago, focused on Community Development. Raised in an urban area in need of resources, she always had an interest in community development. "Economically, physically, and politically, my neighborhood lagged behind others", she said, "I have witnessed first hand how a community can decay if its residents do not have the resources to come together and take action". As a Peters Fellow, she put her community development learning to work on key initiatives.
What attracted you to the Phillip D. Peters Regional Planning Fellowship Program?
In 2004, NIPC was the regional planning leader in the Chicago metropolitan region. I read about Mr. Peters and was impressed with all the work he accomplished during his tenure with NIPC. It was an honor to be awarded this Fellowship.
What kinds of projects did you work on during your fellowship? What benefit do you believe they contributed the Northeastern Illinois region?
I coordinated outreach efforts for the Common Ground Initiative, an comprehensive planning effort to gather broad community input in public meetings across the six-county Chicago metropolitan region. I also facilitated discussions with community groups involved in Full Circle Neighborhood Planning Initiative, a community mapping and planning project.
How did the Fellowship help to shape your career path and ambition?
I learned the value of obtaining community input and support. They are critical to effective planning processes. Since my time at NIPC, I have used some of these participatory planning techniques in my work.
What did you find to be special about CMAP (or NIPC)?
NIPC provided a broad over-arching, comprehensive perspective on regional planning. This was especially important for an eager, urban planning student like myself. During my fellowship, I also met very kind and intelligent people at NIPC—I learned so much from them and am highly appreciative of my experience.
What makes the Northeastern Illinois region a special place to work as a regional planner (or related field)?
As a Chicagoan, I truly appreciate the numerous planning opportunities…from traditional city planning to community development to affordable housing to green sustainability to land use to transportation to new urbanism…and more!
What are you doing professionally now?
I am currently the Homeownership Supervisor at the Illinois Housing Development Authority.
Why is regional planning an important function in a metropolitan region?
It's essential to a metropolitan region like Chicago because we need to share our limited resources amongst our communities. Bringing the various stakeholders to the table is essential to strategically plan for the future.