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Chicago Loop Alliance teases 2021 plans for downtown’s comeback at 16th Annual Meeting

Posted  23 months ago

Press contact: Jessica Cabe | PR and Communications Manager, Chicago Loop Alliance | jessica@chicagoloopalliance.com | 815-713-8909

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CHICAGO—Chicago Loop Alliance and the Chicago Loop Alliance Foundation hosted their 16th Annual Meeting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 23. During the virtual event, new leadership was inducted, and the organization’s 2020 Annual Report was unveiled in a new digital format. Keynote presenter, Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director for the U.K.-based company Springboard, joined Chicago Loop Alliance President and CEO Michael Edwards in conversation about State Street’s pedestrian activity. And viewers got a first look at the organization’s potential 2021 plans and programs, including an ambitious open streets project that would see parts of State Street in the Loop closed to vehicle traffic for up to 12 Sundays this summer. View a recording of the Annual Meeting here.

“Last year was incredibly challenging for the Loop community, which relies so heavily on the 370,000 workers and millions of visitors it normally sees,” said Chicago Loop Alliance President and CEO Michael Edwards. “This month, we noticed a 35 percent increase in pedestrian activity on State Street, which has really improved the atmosphere and energy downtown—we’re all starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As vaccine distribution continues to ramp up, and as the weather warms, we see many opportunities to attract people back to the Loop in 2021.”


Chicago Loop Alliance is exploring a variety of projects and programs for 2021 with an emphasis on economic development and attracting people back downtown to the Loop. These include brand new programs like a self-guided mural walk, taking participants on an urban adventure through alleys and other Loop locations off the beaten path; pop-up activations in vacant storefronts, strengthening connections with the artistic community across the city and drawing attention to available commercial real estate; and Sundays on State, an open streets project that will see parts of State Street closed to vehicle traffic for up to 12 Sundays throughout the summer, making room for arts and culture activations, active recreation, retail and outdoor dining. Chicago Loop Alliance is also coming together with the city’s cultural community to explore an evening spectacle on the Chicago River, using the river and skyline as the stage for a live performance later in the year. And Chicago Loop Alliance is participating in the Chicago Department of Transportation’s redevelopment of the State and Lake CTA station at the gateway to the Loop. This project has the potential to impact the very character of State Street. 

Returning programs include the Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade, sponsored by Blommer Chocolate Company and produced by LUMA8, in partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Arts in the Dark is an evening parade that celebrates Halloween as the “artist’s holiday” and features Chicago's cultural community. Also returning this year is Chicago Loop Alliance’s Downtown Futures Series, a series of webinars tracking the recovery of downtowns from COVID-19 and featuring thought leaders from around the world.


The Annual Meeting’s keynote presenter, Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director for Springboard, joined Chicago Loop Alliance President and CEO Michael Edwards in conversation about State Street’s pedestrian activity. They discussed what can be learned from this footfall data and how businesses can utilize data as they make plans to return to the Loop.

Springboard is the leading provider of data and intelligence on customer activity in stores and destinations like State Street. They work with brands, malls, property owners, downtowns and industry associations across North America, the U.K. and Europe.

Chicago Loop Alliance has utilized Springboard pedestrian and vehicle counters on State Street and parts of Michigan Avenue in the Loop for years, but never was this data more vital to the Loop community than in 2020. These numbers paint a true picture of the state of the Loop and State Street and have empowered businesses to adjust operations strategically during the COVID-19 pandemic and all its impacts. Chicago Loop Alliance has included pedestrian counts and other data in monthly reports on the state of the Loop throughout the pandemic.


Chicago Loop Alliance and Foundation Board of Directors

Jean de St. Aubin, Executive Director of the Gene Siskel Film Center – Board Chair

Jean de St. Aubin has been Executive Director of the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (GSFC) since 2003. With over 30 years in arts administration, de St. Aubin has led strategic planning processes, increased revenue through diversifying revenue streams and fundraising, and built audiences through targeted marketing efforts. Under her leadership, attendance at the GSFC has not only grown but has increased to include a more inclusive audience. In addition, partnerships with cultural and civic organizations have brought the Film Center into communities throughout Chicago. Along with the GSFC’s programming team, de St. Aubin was named 3rd in Newcity magazine’s Film 50. Prior to the GSFC, she was the Cultural Arts Manager for the Chicago Park District, creating cultural centers in 12 neighborhood parks and managing Theater on the Lake.

Rich Gamble, Past Chair of the Magnificent Mile Association – Vice Chair 

Rich Gamble has been a member of Chicago Loop Alliance’s Executive Committee since 2011, was Chair of the Magnificent Mile Association 2019-2020, and is civically active on a number of business association and non-profit boards making him an influential voice in Chicago’s downtown community. He most recently spent six years as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of the Chicago Zoological Society, and spent 16 years in a variety of leadership roles at the Chicago Tribune Media Group. He attended the University of Chicago receiving a bachelor's degree in Behavioral Sciences and a master's degree in Marketing from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Rich is a lifelong Chicagoan who grew up on Chicago's South Side and always enjoyed working, shopping and engaging in the cultural riches of the central business district. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in the South Loop. 

Simone A. Randolph, Partner at Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP – Secretary

Simone A. Randolph is Partner in the Business Transactions group at the law firm of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP. For over a decade, Randolph's practice has focused on complex commercial real estate matters, as well as finance transactions of all types. Specifically, she has assisted lending institutions in thousands of financings to established and growing businesses in various industries headquartered and doing business in Chicago. She also counsels companies with large real estate portfolios in all aspects of property ownership and leasing, including acquisitions and dispositions, facilities management and maintenance. Randolph was named as one out of seven 2020 Emerging Lawyers in Real Estate, and selected as one of Chicago’s Notable Minorities in Law, Crain’s Chicago Business (2020).

Laura Graves, VP of Operations and Business Palnning for ABC 7 Chicago (WLS Television Inc./Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution) – Treasurer

Laura Graves oversees WLS’ financial planning, analysis and business operations. She works closely with both Disney corporate and station management on strategic plans, budgets, forecasts and operational issues, including building management. She acts as the station’s human resource liaison for hiring, employee and union issues, internship recruiting and other employee initiatives. She has held this position since March 2014. Previously, Graves held the position of Assistant Controller for ABC 7. Graves began her television career in July 2001 at WTVD Television, in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, as the Assistant Business Manager. Prior to that, she held Accounting and Audit positions in the logistics and banking Industries. She started her career as an auditor for Ernst and Young LLP. Graves holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Michigan and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the State of Illinois. Graves serves as Treasurer on the board of the Chicago Loop Alliance. She resides in the city of Chicago with her husband and two children.

State Street Commission

Chicago Loop Alliance is the sole service provider for Special Service Area (SSA) #1-2015, covering State Street and parts of Wabash Avenue from Wacker to Ida B. Wells drives. Special Service Area #1-2015 is under the guidance of the State Street Commission, a body of public and private officials appointed to oversee the allocation of funding within the service area.

Greg Cameron, President and CEO of the Joffrey Ballet – Commission Chair 

Inspired by his lifelong love for the arts, for his hometown, and for connecting with people from every background, Greg Cameron leads the Joffrey Ballet as President and CEO, responsible for organization-wide administration and strategy. Under his partnership with The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director Ashley Wheater, the Joffrey has set new records at the box office and built the strongest financial foundation in its history. Before joining the Joffrey, Cameron spent three decades supporting art and artists and creating meaningful experiences for others at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art and WTTW/WFMT. In addition to leading the Joffrey, Cameron throws himself into his community, volunteering for a wide range of nonprofit organizations and civic committees, including the Facing History and Ourselves Chicago Advisory Board, Enrich Chicago, and the UIC Chancellor’s Leadership Board. 

Ryan Segal, VP of Property Management for Acadia Realty Trust, State Street building owner of 20 N. State St. – Commission Vice Chair

Ryan Segal has been an SSA Commissioner since November 2017, representing the interests of Acadia Realty Trust. Acadia’s holdings on State Street include the retail portion of The Sullivan Center, Uniqlo and Nordstrom Rack at State and Washington and the Walgreens at State and Randolph. Joining Acadia in 2011, Segal oversees the company’s Midwest and West Coast properties as Vice President of Property Management. He is a graduate of DePaul University with a degree in political science and is a licensed Illinois Real Estate Broker, a Certified Shopping Center Manager and Certified Retail Real Estate Specialist (CSM, CRRP, ICSC.)

La Verne Morris, residential property owner at 20 N. State St. – Commission Secretary

La Verne Morris is the President and owner of JuryThink LLC, a nationwide litigation research and jury consulting firm based in the Loop. She holds the office of Secretary on the State Street Commission. She is also president of her condo board, located in the Loop. As an area resident for more than 15 years, she brings insights to the Commission from both the perspectives of Loop residents and the area’s small business owners. Morris received her M.A. in political management at George Washington University, and her A.B. in politics from Mount Holyoke College.

Kristin Duncan, General Manager of the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel – Commission Treasurer

Kristin Duncan has 32 years of experience with Marriott International, working in various sales and sales leadership positions, including Western Region Senior Director of Sales and Catering Sales Leader for the Midwest area. She transitioned to General Manager positions in 2013 at various Marriott hotels in the Chicago area, including Oak Brook Hills Marriott Resort, Lincolnshire Marriott Resort, Marriott Oak Brook and currently Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel since 2019. In this role, she acts as the strategic business leader for a 560-room hotel with more than 42,000 square feet of meeting space. In addition to serving as a State Street Commissioner for Special Service Area #1-2015, she is a member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association and serves on the Advisory Committee for the College of DuPage School of Hospitality and Tourism. She earned a BBA and BA at Southern Methodist University and MBA from University of Kansas.

About Chicago Loop Alliance

Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA)’s mission is to create, manage and promote positive and inclusive programs that attract people to the Loop and accelerate economic recovery. CLA is a membership organization as well as the sole service provider for Special Service Area#1-2015, and the Chicago Loop Alliance Foundation produces public art projects and events. For more information, please visit here.