I love places and what makes them tick. As a lifelong Chicagoan, I'm pretty sure what my favorite city is. And as an urban and historical geographer who spent 27 years teaching on the far south side of Chicago, I'm quite certain that one of the world's tickingest places is the incredibly diverse Calumet region. Before I came to the Museum, I was a Professor of Geography at Chicago State University, which anchors one corner of the region. I taught a wonderful group of students and worked with some terrific colleagues, who get how important it is to deliver an educational program that is vibrant, caring, and relevant. I came to see how institutions like universities (and museums!) can bring the heft of their research and the depth of their commitment to take action to make a real difference in the world. In the Calumet area this meant working on projects that not only enhance environmental quality or that build on cultural heritage, but that try wherever possible to work on both in concert. I began the University’s Neighborhood Assistance Center, the Calumet Environmental Resource Center, and the CSU GIS Laboratory. I also helped to establish the Lake Calumet Ecosystem Partnership. I was the Project Director on a map for Chicago Wilderness that has been an important touchstone for current planning work in the region.
I learned at CSU that THE core partner on efforts to take action to build a better bridge between people and nature in the Calumet region is The Field Museum. It's a privilege to work with this team now, and to scale up the insights and best practices won from experience in the Calumet region to other places across the region and the urban world. And I continue to be active in regional affairs: I serve as President of the Calumet Heritage Partnership, as Co-Chair of the Calumet Stewardship Initiative, as a Member of the Working Group of Vital Lands Illinois, and as a Member of the Millennium Reserve Steering Committee.
I've got an undergraduate degree in Geography from Valparaiso University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Minnesota.