MPDC Board of Directors

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Eric Carlson

Eric joined the MPDC board in November 2022. He is especially interested in ensuring that more public spaces in the community are sustainably designed and utilized for neighbors to gather, learn and play together.

Eric has worked in education for two decades, including six wonderful years as a social science teacher at nearby Thomas Kelly College Prep High School. He also spent several years teaching in Honduras, China and Portugal. Outside of teaching, Eric has been busy helping his wife, Alejandra, to open a bakery in the neighborhood. He loves live music, running, and exploring Chicago’s many parks with his daughter.

Mike Naughton

Mike joined the MPDC board in 2022, after having been active in the Council’s eTOD committee and the Council in general for several years. In fact, Mike had been attending MPDC events even before moving to the neighborhood in 2018.

Mike is passionate about sustainable development and redevelopment, making public spaces work for the people that use them, and ensuring everyone in the community has access to quality services and amenities.

During his time on the Council, Mike hopes to work towards improved sanitation amenities at the namesake park and throughout important corridors in the neighborhood, and to be a voice for mutually beneficial neighborhood redevelopment. Outside of MPDC, Mike is a software engineer, a foster parent with his wife, and enjoyer of many outdoor activities.

Zach McDowell

Although I did not grow up in Chicago, McKinley Park has become my home. I moved here in 2017 and In 2019 I purchased a home here because I fell in love with this neighborhood – the character, the people, the accessibility, and the promise I saw of its continued development. I am an Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and I work specifically on access and equity in education and information spaces. Before academia, I spent nearly a decade working in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Management industry.

My focus on access and equity matches my feelings for the neighborhood as well. Balanced development and renewal to ensure the neighborhood remains accessible, safe, and affordable remains imperative.

Especially after the pandemic, many of us spend most of our time in the neighborhood, and it underscores the importance of developing the neighborhood to serve its residents in the best ways possible, seeking out opportunities to improve the shared spaces, creating community events and spaces, and attracting business.

Chad Nilsson

I have been living in the great city of Chicago for over ten years and have never lived in a neighborhood quite like McKinley Park. As a three-year resident now, I am happy to say that I have completely fallen in love with the neighborhood. Growing up in rural Michigan, the sixty-nine-acre park and its diverse animal inhabitants have brought so much joy, the type of joy I thought was only possible to find in the country, to my heart. McKinley Park has truly cemented my love for public natural spaces and proves you can enjoy nature while being in a global city.

The beautiful park was what brought me to this great neighborhood but the people and local businesses are why I stay. Our community and neighbors are so kind, determined, and helpful. This neighborhood has an amazing future ahead of it, but only if the community needs are met. That’s why championing our neighbor’s interest and betterment is a direct goal of mine.

I am currently a Marketing Associate (Communications Specialist) for the UIC Honors College (go Flames!). I have an Associate Degree in Electronic Media Broadcasting at Delta College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication at UIC, graduating as Magna cum laude in 2018. While at UIC, I’ve worked as a student worker in the Office of the Chancellor as a Social Media Content Creator. I have also worked at Brown Elephant resale shop for over six years, where my love of vintage, oddities, and reusing blossomed.

Kate Eakin

Kate has been a member of MPDC’s board since 2020 and was elected its president in 2022. During her tenure, she has shepherded MPDC’s partnership with UIC College of Urban Planning and Policy (CUPPA) to find pathways for affordable housing, re-envision our “Main Street” on 35th Street, and reactivate the Central Manufacturing District in a socially inclusive and environmentally responsible way. She also facilitated a cohort of community groups in the Chicago Works Community Challenge with a plan to expand amenities around McKinley Park and the Community Garden.

Outside of MPDC, Kate designs and delivers job training for wide variety of workplaces. A veteran, she also brings her past experience in Public Affairs with the U.S. Air Force, and continues to serve in the Air Force Reserve as a member of the JAG Corps. Kate’s hobbies include cycling, kayaking, and any excuse to get out in the park.

John Kugler

We have lived on Winchester for 23 years, consequently seeing and being part of many changes in our neighborhood. Husband of Emi Yamamoto, we raised 4 boys together who all attended Greene ES, Evergreen Middle ES and Juarez HS. Starting with Twinkle Star Gymnastics, our family participated in sports at McKinley Park Field House. I say this to validate my involvement in our neighborhood in everyday life needs and services, which also includes my civic service on the Greene ES LSC and Judge of Election in my Precinct.

The reason I would like to be involved with the council is my concern that unchecked development will disenfranchise middleclass families and push out mom and pop businesses.

Some ideas of mine, as a lifelong Chicago resident for responsible and sustainable neighborhood development are:

Bringing back corner stores and hyper-local businesses inside of our blocks Safe traffic patterns before neighborhood expansion begins Positive afterschool and employment opportunities for our youth Integrated senior friendly activities and services Improve immigrant supports and infrastructure Supporting and promoting neighborhood schools and churches Re-purposing industrial land for: Low cost rental space for businesses Local produce growing Training centers for emerging technologies Incubators for neighborhood entrepreurs

Having experienced rampant gentrification in Lakeview and Bucktown, I feel if we don’t get ahead of the curve in McKinley Park, none of us will be living here 20 years from now.

Anthony Wojtal

Anthony is a life long chicagoan who has lived in McKinley Park for five years. A board member since 2020, Anthony served as the Illinois Connected Communities cohort lead and Chicago Connected liaison; uncovering inequities in internet access, affordability, and needs.

In his professional life he has nearly a decade of experience serving in the budget and grants management office of Chicago Public Schools.

Anthony is passionate about housing security, food security, and sustainability and often advocates for alternative ownership models to increase home ownership and business ownership in the neighborhood.

Faye “Nikita” Wu

My name is Faye Wu but many people know me as “Nikita”. I am an active member of the school my son attends, Galileo, located in the 25th Ward where I help organize the annual fundraiser: Reach for the Stars. I have been an active member of the Chinese community for many years having been the MC of many ceremonies and galas and having worked at a prominent insurance agency. Today, I own my own business, the Faye Wu Agency of American Family Insurance located in the heart of Chinatown.

But it is McKinley Park that I have called home since 2002 and where, together with my husband and two sons, we have decided to grow even deeper roots by building an addition to our home to better accommodate our future needs and it is here that I would welcome the opportunity to serve the needs of the residents and build a better McKinley Park.

Liz Gres

I’ve got board and non-profit experience. I’ve done it all from grant-writing to strategic planning to meeting facilitation, etc. etc. More importantly, I’m a native southwest-sider, the kid of immigrants and now raising a couple kids of my own in the neighborhood. I can’t say enough about how much I love the community in McKinley Park and the active work so many people are doing to foster and invite that. I think it’s a pretty special thing though it can be pretty fragile when you’re talking about a community that isn’t as resourced or listened to as other neighborhoods given our racial and economic make-up as well as small size - especially as we begin to get mentioned as the next “hot” area. I think the MPDC can serve as an organization that really helps to hold up the voice and priorities of all of the neighborhood not just of those whose voice is loudest or who have the most access, time, resources, etc. There are certainly challenges in order to effectively do that as an organization but I think the MPDC can serve in that role and I would love to contribute to making that happen.

Tony Adams

This year I’ve been busy as part of the leadership team of the McKinley Park Community Garden as we’ve relocated to the new site in McKinley Park. I am also one of MPDC founders - involved since before it existed as a named group. I’m a particpant in the McKinley Park Stewardship days (not just because of the doughnuts) , Ward cleanup events and a customer of the Farmer’s Market. I consider it a huge blessing to be able to live here.

I’ve been a professional software developer for nearly 20 years, currently at Future making the fight against climate change personal. I have been contributing those talents to the MPDC by designing, maintaining and hosting this web site using 100% free and open source tools and hosting.