New chief planner to take helm of regional agency
The agency that plans the region's future is welcoming its first female chief.
Former Illinois Department of Transportation department head Erin Aleman will become the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's executive director in mid-July.
She will replace CMAP Executive Director Joseph Szabo, who is retiring at the end of June.
The agency is tasked with planning transportation, housing and open space for 284 communities in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.
Its recent report ON TO 2050 provided a road map for growth in the region. CMAP is empowered to prioritize projects, which determines their eligibility for federal funds.
Aleman said she shares a "passion for a thriving Chicago metropolitan region" with CMAP staff and volunteers.
Aleman previously worked as IDOT's director of planning and programming and at CMAP as a principal planner. Mostly recently, she was vice president at Metro Strategies, a communications firm. She was selected Wednesday by the CMAP board, whose members include local mayors, and will be paid $225,000 annually.
Developing policy and creating plans are crucial but "action is one of the most important things," the 39-year-old Chicagoan said. One of her goals is to improve connectivity for transit riders who need help getting to their final destinations and to focus on performance-based programming to ensure tax dollars are used prudently.