Kelwin Harris is a city planner and public engagement professional who focuses on creating equitable communities, empowering people that have been historically excluded from connectivity, and dismantling inequality in Chicago. He translates complex social issues into things people care about around the kitchen table to inspire change. Kelwin has over 18 years of experience working in various capacities at the city and regional levels and in grassroots neighborhood development. He is the current Director of Outreach and Engagement for the Cook County Assessor’s Office, which is responsible for valuing the county’s 1.8 million properties fairly. Kelwin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in City & Regional Planning from Cornell University, a Master in Urban Planning Degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a Professional Certificate in Municipal Finance from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. He attended high school at The Francis W. Parker School in Chicago.
Kelwin will speak on how the Chicago region faces serious threats. Growth is uneven. Downtown is booming while many neighborhoods are struggling. Streets are erupting in racial uprisings and COVID-19 has made existing inequalities worse. Many residents are giving up altogether and leaving. Now more than ever, Chicago must address racial equity and provide strategies for prosperity for the good of everyone. Kelwin uses an urban planning and equity lens to discuss multiple facets of the issues including systematic policies that produced housing segregation and the unequal distribution of opportunities to build wealth. Drawing from his experience as a community leader on the South Side of Chicago, he offers strategies and interventions for the road ahead.