Our Great Rivers: What’s Next for the Chicago and Calumet
MarySue Barrett, Rebekah Scheinfeld, Hon. Mariyana Spyropoulos, and Hon. Patrick Thompson
Tuesday, Mar 7, 2017
MarySue Barrett is an expert on designing effective urban solutions through creative collaboration across governments, businesses, and communities. As President of the independent Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), Barrett builds bridges between the public and private sectors to solve metropolitan Chicago’s urgent planning and development challenges, refining the tactics that can help regions everywhere prepare for the needs of tomorrow.
Barrett speaks and writes frequently about why and how cities must continually reinvent themselves. She deconstructs Chicago’s and MPC’s success stories as models for cities across the globe, while offering constructive analysis when we fail to unlock our region’s full potential.
Prior to joining MPC, Barrett served Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley as his Chief of Policy. She counts among her top accomplishments Chicago's early implementation of community policing and the city's successful bid to host the 1996 Democratic National Convention. Tapping her deep knowledge of government, Barrett recently has led transition committees for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.
Barrett serves on the Steering Committee of World Business Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth & Jobs, co-chairing the infrastructure team and serving on the board of Current, a platform for the Chicago region’s water industry to leverage its strengths for greater economic impact. She recently joined the Board of Directors of IFF and serves on the Advisory Board of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. Barrett is a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. She is also active with The Chicago Network and the Economic Club of Chicago, and she has participated in leadership exchanges sponsored by the International Women's Forum (1996), Rockefeller Foundation (2009), and Brookings Institution (2008 and 2011).
A native of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, Barrett earned her bachelor's degree from Northwestern University.
Rebekah Scheinfeld was appointed Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in January 2014 with the direction to continue the critical work of making sure Chicago has a strong, vibrant, accessible transportation network that provides a foundation for a thriving economy in the 21st Century.
Scheinfeld has a broad background in urban development issues, working in both the public and private sectors and in a variety of policy areas including transportation, infrastructure investment, housing, open space, and real estate. She oversees a department with about 1,300 employees and manages a $745 million capital and operations budget.
In her time at the helm of CDOT, Scheinfeld has led the Emanuel Administration’s key transportation initiatives. In addition to an unprecedented amount of street repair and resurfacing, these initiatives include major capital investments that are completed or underway, such as: The 606 Trail, the Chicago Riverwalk, Loop Link, the Navy Pier Flyover, the Union Station Transit Center, new CTA elevated stations at Washington-Wabash and Cermak Road, and a major freight rail grade separation project—as part of the CREATE Program—at 130th Street and Torrence Avenue. Scheinfeld has also spearheaded investments in bicycle infrastructure throughout Chicago and the growth of the popular Divvy bike share program, the city’s newest transit system. In September of 2016, Chicago was named “Best Bike City in America” by Bicycling magazine.
Previously, Scheinfeld was the Chief Planning Officer and a Senior Vice President at the Chicago Transit Authority, where she handled the CTA’s strategic planning for major capital projects and new transit service. She is an attorney, having worked previously at Mayer Brown, where she represented public and private sector clients on major infrastructure and transportation projects.
A native Chicagoan, Scheinfeld graduated from Brown University with a BA in Urban Studies and earned both her JD and MBA from Northwestern University.
Hon. Mariyana Spyropoulos
President Mariyana Spyropoulos was first appointed to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago by Governor Pat Quinn in 2009. She was subsequently elected to the Board in 2010 and 2016.
In 2013, her peers elected her to serve as Chairman of Finance and later elected her as President of the Board in 2015 and 2017. Spyropoulos serves as Chairman of three committees: Judiciary; Labor & Industrial Relations; and Pension, Human Resources & Civil Service. She also serves on the Pension Board as well as the Great Rivers Leadership Commission and Public Building Commission.
Spyropoulos is an attorney with the Law Offices of Mariyana Spyropoulos & Associates. Prior to opening her own law office, Spyropoulos worked as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney and then as a Hearing Officer for the State of Illinois. Before law school, she lived in London, England, where she worked at Nomura Research Institute. Her work focused on privatization efforts in Eastern European countries.
A Chicago native who grew up on the South Side, Spyropoulos received her law degree from The John Marshall Law School and her MBA from Loyola University Chicago. She also completed graduate work in American Government at Georgetown University. With her experience as an attorney, she brings a unique legal and business perspective combined with environmental activism. She has spoken to many community groups on environmental and water issues.
Hon. Patrick Thompson
Patrick Thompson is the Alderman of Chicago’s 11th Ward, which covers parts of Bridgeport, Canaryville, Armour Square, Pilsen, Stockyards, University Village, and UIC. Prior to his election to the City Council in 2015, Thompson served as a Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). Elected to that position in 2012, Thompson’s experience as an attorney helped him provide value to the taxpayers. While at MWRD, he chaired the Industrial Waste and Water Pollution and the Monitoring and Research Committees, and served as Vice Chair of the Information Technology and the Judiciary Committees.
As an Alderman, Thompson serves on the Committee on Finance; Committee on Public Safety; Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development; Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation; Committee on Human Relations; and Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics.
Thompson is a member of the Chicago and Illinois State Bar Associations and he is active in a number of civic and charitable organizations. Currently, Thompson serves as a Board Member of the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association; Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence; Secretary of the South Loop Chamber of Commerce; Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago; Member of The John Marshall Law School Board of Visitors; and Finance Council Member of Nativity of Our Lord Parish. He is also a past Chairman and current Board Member of the Aquinas Literacy Center and a past President and Board Member of the Louis L. Valentine Boys and Girls Club of Chicago.
Thompson graduated from Saint Ignatius College Prep and earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and his Juris Doctorate from The John Marshall Law School. Thompson and his wife, Katie, a school teacher, are raising their three children on the same block where he was raised.