Collaborating for Equitable Development in Chicago - City Club of Chicago
Collaborating for Equitable Development in Chicago

Collaborating for Equitable Development in Chicago

featuring remarks from the Chicago Community President & CEO Andrea Sáenz
Panelists: Kendra Freeman (MPC), Kevin Goldsmith (JPMorgan Chase), Christen Wiggins (We Rise Together), Andraya Yousfi (By The Hand) / moderated by Brandis Freidman (WTTW, Chicago Tonight)

Tuesday, Apr 23, 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

In Partnership with

Too many of our communities on the city's South and West Sides wait years for amenities like a community center or sit-down restaurant. However, 13 new projects have opened their doors and more are on the way in Chicago's Black and Latinx neighborhoods, with support from We Rise Together: For an Equitable & Just Recovery. These projects are bringing new jobs, amenities and services to communities and anchoring opportunities that are strengthening local employment and small businesses. With evaluation partner Mastercard Data Services, We Rise Together also been able to track millions of dollars of increased consumer spending in the areas around some of the recently opened developments. 

Join us April 23 for a panel discussion on the challenges to equitable economic development, what's working, and how the corporate, philanthropic, and government sectors can collaborate to support thriving local economies across Chicago.


Andrea Sáenz

Andrea Sáenz (pronounced Ahn-dray-a Sigh-enz) is the president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust. The Trust, one of the nation’s largest and oldest community foundations, is committed to a vision of equity, opportunity, and prosperity for the entire Chicago region. The Trust’s work is both professionally fulfilling and deeply personal for Sáenz. As an immigrant from Ecuador who came to Chicago as an adult, she is energized by the strength, creativity, connection, and cultural vibrancy that exists across the region. However, she has also experienced the obstacles too many Chicagoans still face as they strive to build financial stability and prosperity. 

Before being named president and CEO in 2022, Sáenz served as the Trust’s chief operating officer, overseeing information technology, learning and impact, and talent. In this role, she applied professional and personal insights to improve systems that affect people still left out of decision-making.  

As First Deputy Commissioner for Chicago Public Library, a system of more than 80 neighborhood branches, Sáenz led efforts to reimagine the role libraries can play in improving community wellbeing. Her team pioneered a human-centered approach to designing library services that prioritize the lives and goals of community residents.  

Before joining the Library, Sáenz was chief of staff to the Chicago Public Schools CEO, policy advisor for the U.S. Department of Education Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, and executive director of HACE, a national nonprofit working to increase Latinx entry and success in professional careers. She began her social sector career leading community-based adult education and workforce development services at Congreso de Latinos Unidos in Philadelphia. In each of these roles, she seized every opportunity to reimagine civic institutions to engage and serve people impacted by poverty.

In 2019, Crain’s Chicago Business recognized Sáenz as one of Chicago’s 25 Most Powerful Latinos. Her extensive board service includes the Economic Club of Chicago, National Louis University, American Civil Liberties Union, Albert Pick Jr. Fund, Chicago Learning Exchange, Chicago Public Education Fund, Chicago Public Library Foundation, and Chicago United. She is a member of Leadership Greater Chicago and received an honorary doctorate from Dominican University. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies from Scripps College.

Kendra Freeman

Kendra Freeman is the Vice President of Programs and Strategic Impact at the Metropolitan Planning Council. Kendra provides strategic leadership, management, and guidance to the MPC’s policy and systems change initiatives through collaborative research and advocacy, meaningful community/stakeholder engagement and intentional technical assistance to support policy implementation.

With more than 20 years of experience in program development and operations, Freeman has held leadership positions in the private and nonprofit sectors with a focus on equitable development and capacity building. Prior to MPC, Kendra worked in affordable housing development and management, where she invested in people to improve the quality of life in their communities. As executive director of Holsten Human Capital Development, NFP, she oversaw the nonprofit’s daily operations, including an annual budget of more than $1.5 million and 25 staff serving more than 1,200 households living in subsidized housing.

Kendra is a Chicago native and licensed real estate broker. She holds a bachelor’s in sociology and a master’s in public administration from DePaul University.  She serves on the steering committee  of Elevated Chicago, is on the advisory committee for Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Greater Chicago, and as Chair of the Board of Directors for Storycatchers Theatre.


Kevin Goldsmith

Kevin Goldsmith is the Managing Director for Community Development Tax Credits (CDTC) and Intermediaries Lending at Chase. In his role, Kevin oversees a national team that originates and structures NMTC and HTC equity investments and debt facilities for CDFIs. Kevin's team works with industry partners and business units throughout Chase to identify, screen and underwrite community development projects.

Christen Wiggins

Christen Wiggins is the program director of We Rise Together: For an Equitable & Just Recovery. In her role, Christen oversees strategy, grantmaking, and partnerships toward the goal of building thriving neighborhoods for a stronger Chicago. She joined the initiative in 2021 with more than 20 years of experience working with and for non-profits in the fields of community development and affordable housing. She began her career on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee and worked on policy and advocacy for Habitat for Humanity International and Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago. She ran an independent consulting firm dedicated to helping non-profits translate their vision for change into actionable plans for over a decade. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago. 

Andraya Yousfi

Andraya Yousfi is the Chief of Partnership and Development for By the Hand Club for Kids. Andraya works to expand the mission of By The Hand by supporting the development of new construction, programs and partnerships to reach more children and their families—mind, body and soul. 

Founded in 2001, By The Hand Club partners with local schools to support students who are not meeting reading standards. By The Hand serves nearly 1,800 children across Chicago, providing transportation, meals, reading intervention, mentorship, eye care, dental care, mental health counseling and enrichment activities such as art, dance, STEM, sports and field trips.

As Chief of Partnerships and Development,  Andraya acted as a key member on the development team for the North Austin Community Center, specifically supporting community engagement, fundraising, and compliance. Prior to joining By The Hand, Andraya served as chief of staff at an education policy organization, working towards educational equity throughout Chicago. She leverages over a decade of experience in policy creation, project management, community outreach, education and equity-based urban development. She began her career teaching high school special education and has dedicated her life to ensuring that all barriers are removed so that the brilliant children of Chicago have a clear path to achieve their God-given callings.

Andraya has a Bachelor of Arts from Wheaton College in psychology with a certificate in Urban Studies and her teaching certificate with a Learning Behavior Specialist endorsement from National Louis University. 

Brandis Friedman

Brandis Friedman is a co-anchor and correspondent for Chicago Tonight, and the host of Chicago Tonight: Black Voices, both on Chicago’s PBS affiliate, WTTW. Her reporting on education and criminal justice has appeared on PBS’ NewsHour and NPR’s The Takeaway. Before joining Chicago Tonight, Brandis worked as a reporter and anchor for WBBM Newsradio 780, and as a producer/reporter for WJLA-TV/ABC-7 in Washington, DC. In addition to earning multiple regional Emmy Awards for her work, she has earned multiple Peter Lisagor Awards, recognizing excellence in journalism, from the Chicago Headline Club.

Originally from Mississippi, Brandis’ work has taken her to numerous cities including Kansas City, Missouri, Little Rock, Arkansas and Wichita Falls, Texas. She has served on the board of the Chicago Headline Club, which is the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and is a member of the Education Writers Association and National Association of Black Journalists. Brandis is a graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans, where she earned a degree in Mass Communications, and Columbia University in New York City, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Journalism. Brandis lives in Evanston with her husband and two sons.

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