The Humanities' Impact: Fostering Economic Development in Chicago and Beyond - City Club of Chicago
The Humanities' Impact: Fostering Economic Development in Chicago and Beyond

The Humanities' Impact: Fostering Economic Development in Chicago and Beyond

Moderated by Gabrielle Lyon (Illinois Humanities)
Panelists: Shelly Lowe (National Endowment for Humanities), Vickie Lakes-Battle (IFF) and Bernard Loyd (Urban Juncture & Build Bronzeville)

Wednesday, Feb 14, 2024
Doors Open at 11:30 am / Event Begins at 12:00 pm


Maggiano's Banquets
111 W. Grand Avenue
ChicagoIL 60654

Map and directions

Join us for a discussion about the powerful return on investment generated by the humanities for local, regional and national economic development. National Endowment for the Humanities Chair Shelly Lowe makes her inaugural visit to Chicago and Illinois to anchor a discussion featuring IFF's Vickie Lakes-Battle and Build Bronzeville and Urban Juncture's Bernard Loyd. Moderated by Illinois Humanities' Gabrielle Lyon, this conversation aims to shed light on the invaluable role of the humanities in fostering community development and economic prosperity.


Shelly Lowe

Shelly C. Lowe is Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lowe is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and grew up on the Navajo Reservation in Ganado, Arizona. From 2015 to 2022 she served as a member of the National Council on the Humanities, the 26-member advisory body to NEH, an appointment she received from President Obama. Lowe’s career in higher education has included roles as Executive Director of the Harvard University Native American Program, Assistant Dean in the Yale College Dean’s Office, and Director of the Native American Cultural Center at Yale University. Prior to these positions, she spent six years as the Graduate Education Program Facilitator for the American Indian Studies Programs at the University of Arizona.

Lowe has served in a variety of leadership roles nationally, most recently as a member of the University of Arizona Alumni Association Governing Board and of the Challenge Leadership Group for the MIT Solve Indigenous Communities Fellowship. She has served on the board of the National Indian Education Association and as a trustee on the board for the National Museum of the American Indian.

Lowe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Master of Arts in American Indian Studies, and has completed doctoral coursework in Higher Education from the University of Arizona.

Vickie Lakes-Battle

Victoria “Vickie” Lakes-Battle has been at the forefront of commercial and mission-based lending for over 30 years and has developed a recipe for equitably serving communities: time + proximity + authentic partnerships. When you think of Vickie, you think of a master connector who is acutely aware of the nuances in building strategic alliances and partnerships that bolster relationships, systems, and equity within communities and organizations.

With a never-ending reserve of expertise in community development, finance, and executive leadership, Vickie Lakes-Battle leads with equity, purpose and strategy in everything she does.

On a mission to invest, redevelop and empower low-income communities to activate their visions, Vickie became IFF’s first-ever Executive Director for the Chicago Metro region. She oversees IFF’s full-range of services including lending, real estate consulting, and the community strategies program where she is adept at targeting and cultivating opportunities that support IFF goals and objectives. In this role, Vickie understands the necessity of cooperative engagement and active partnerships that expand the resources available to serve low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. She is a trusted thought partner to community-based organizations, the broader community development sector, and philanthropy.

Vickie’s ability to innovate at every turn--economically, socially, and organizationally--has been recognized throughout the Chicagoland area and nationally. Vickie challenges others to look at community development finance through an equity lens and is willing to ask and wrestle with the tough questions.

She currently serves as the Board Chair for Arts Alliance Illinois, and is on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Public Health Institute, Cook County Land Bank Authority, Forefront, and AMPT: Advancing Nonprofits. She also serves on the Chicago Food Equity Council and Steering Committee of Elevated Chicago. Vickie’s track record positions her as a success benchmark for leaders in the commercial and mission lending and equitable community development space.

Vickie holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Chicago State University.

Bernard Loyd

Bernard Loyd is founder and president of Urban Juncture, Inc. and Urban Juncture Foundation, social enterprises focused on revitalizing urban communities. He leads the Build Bronzeville project, a collaborative effort that uses deeply-rooted community assets, including cuisine, culture, and history, to revitalize commerce and rebuild community. Build Bronzeville initiatives, including the Bronzeville Incubator, Boxville®, Bronzeville Cookin’, The Forum, and Engage Bronzeville, are transforming the retail areas adjacent to the CTA Green Line at 51st and 43rd Streets.

Prior to Urban Juncture, Bernard helped senior corporate leaders expand existing businesses, create new businesses, and improve operations as a consultant at McKinsey & Company. Bernard’s contributions at McKinsey include co-founding its global agriculture and food chains initiative and leading client development and service in that arena. He also co-founded and led the firm-wide group of Black consultants, which drove substantial increases in the number of Black consultants at McKinsey and became a model for similar groups at other professional firms. In addition, he co-founded the Chicago Office’s social sector practice and worked with public sector clients to address key regional issues. He was the first African-American elected partner in McKinsey’s Chicago office.

Bernard’s civic efforts are focused on improving access to economic opportunity. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Governors of the Metropolitan Planning Council. He has served as member and chairman of the Board of Trustees of Centers for New Horizons, as co-chairman of the governor-appointed Dan Ryan Taskforce, and as convener of the Friends of the Checkerboard Lounge. He also has served on the board of trustees of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A native of Chicago’s West Side, Bernard was raised primarily in Liberia and earned engineering and business degrees at MIT. He and his family reside in Bronzeville.

Gabrielle Lyon

Gabrielle Lyon’s passion and expertise are launching and scaling award-winning social impact organizations and initiatives committed to system-level and cross-sector change.

She is a nationally-recognized, well-rounded nonprofit leader, educator, author, and public speaker with more than 20 years of experience working for social justice by increasing access and equity, particularly in science, technology, and civic engagement. As well as serving as the founder and board member of award-winning nonprofit organizations, she has successfully repositioned established city and state cultural organizations as educational, economic, and civic leaders.

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