On Friday, April 22, 2022, students from the Uplift Community High School, 900 W. Wilson, Chicago, IL, located in Uptown, in collaboration with the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), will participate in a fun and creative “Scavenger Hunt” to celebrate Earth Day and underscore the critical role each member of Uptown plays in combating climate change. Eight teams of 6 students each will compete with one another using a new educational app developed by Civil Agents, a communications agency that designs digital tools to raise awareness of critical environmental, recycling, sustainability and waste management issues.
The student competition will culminate with a Happy Hour event hosted at the ICA’s GreenRise, 4750 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL, from 5 pm to 7 pm. The GreenRise is itself a demonstration of how a vintage office building can become carbon neutral, relying, in part, on its solar array of nearly 500 panels, the second most in the city after the Shedd Aquarium. ICA was recognized as a member of the Mayor’s Leadership Circle for Outstanding Energy Efficiency for achieving a 23% energy reduction.
Uplift High School and ICA GreenRise have collaborated with Sarah’s Circle and Lakeside Towers Apartments to form the Uptown Carbon-Free Demonstration Building Project. The goal is to develop action research, training and collaboration with personnel from multiple buildings, organizations and government agencies to assist Chicago neighborhoods in moving toward being carbon-free by 2035. The Uptown Chamber of Commerce is a sponsor of the scavenger hunt along with other neighborhood businesses.
Participating organization’s websites:
Uplift Community High School - https://uplifths.cps.edu
Civil Agents - https://civilagents.com
The Institute of Cultural Affairs USA (ICA USA) is pleased to announce Lesley Showers as Interim Executive Director starting on January 3, 2022. Working in progressive roles at ICA USA since 2010, Ms. Showers has a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organization management industry. She is skilled in program evaluation, conflict resolution, management and facilitation.
Ms. Showers’ career with ICA began in 2010 as Property Manager charged with restoring GreenRise, the organization’s headquarters and a historic 1921 Chicago Landmark. The 166,000 sq. ft. terracotta building houses 19 different nonprofits and social service agencies making it the largest non-profit social service center in the Midwest. She was instrumental in the installation of the second largest array of solar panels in Chicago’s non-profit community (485 panels) and 25% of GreenRise’s energy is solar. As a result, the building has become a sustainable, energy efficient living learning laboratory. Recognizing Ms. Showers accomplishments in restoring the building and making it a leading model in Illinois, she was promoted to become the Chief Operations Officer of ICA USA in May 2019.
“The Board of Directors is thrilled to have Lesley as our new Interim Executive Director,” said Margaret Gergen, incoming President. “She brings over a decade of service and experience with ICA and the Green Rise Project, as well as a wealth of professional knowledge and training. We are fortunate to have Lesley leading our ICA team into exciting new ventures and look forward to working with her to realize our vision to “build a just and equitable society in harmony with planet Earth.”
Ms. Showers holds a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting and Communication from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah and a Bachelor of Architecture focused on Interior Architecture from School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
ICA USA is well positioned for growth in 2022 thanks to the leadership of Philip Waitzman MBA, MPH, MA, LSW who has been serving as Interim Executive Director since mid-2020. Mr. Waitzman focused the organization in revenue growth and fundraising, cost savings, website marketing, refocusing the mission, board development, programming and GreenRise management. His modernized approach to leading and coaching leaders breaks the mold and moves to a strategic proactive business minded approach to leading mission centered organizations.
About Institute of Cultural Affairs USA
Social justice has been a constant in the Institute of Cultural Affair’s mission and has always told its story within the context of the “moral issue of our times.” When it first began in 1962, the major moral issue across the United States was civil rights. Today, awakened persons know that global climate change confronts sensitive and responsible people everywhere with a huge moral dilemma. ICA USA’s current mission statement, approved by its Board of Directors in 2013, combines the two: “to build a just and equitable society in harmony with Planet Earth.”
Oliveann always made the world a better place by her presence and actions in it. In her work with the ICA she set up the first Town Meeting in Ohio and facilitated many more. Through project learning as a teacher she tenaciously worked to ensure high school students had positive images of themselves and the relevanace of math in their lives. The Disney Foundation recognized this work by awarding her the National Teacher of the Year. And most recently she has pioneered in catalyzing teams to offer Climate Action Forums in Denver and Boulder. Oliveann passed away on May 3, 2021, and will be long remembered by her colleagues as an inspiration in her love of life, and the way she cared for others and the planet.
James Michael has worked in a wide range of program and business development environments, including higher education, healthcare, international child development, and grassroots social service work. Jim’s thirty-year career in the nonprofit sector has brought him in contact with an incredibly diverse group of individuals, from military families to ill and injured homeless people, from the visually impaired to people with developmental disabilities. He currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for Baal Perazim Wellness & Health Services, a multi-site integrative primary care and community wellness organization, where he leads development planning, marketing, and community partnerships. He moved to Chicago in January of 2006 from his hometown of Seattle.
Jim is very active in various philanthropic and fundraising project work, as both a consultant and a volunteer, and has a deep interest in community building and cultural engineering. He has a certificate in Nonprofit Executive Management from Kellogg School of Management, a master’s degree in education from Seattle University, and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Washington. He counts his two school-age children as his greatest achievement, and lives in Forest Park
Margaret Gergen is recently retired from 35+ years in real estate development, senior housing administration and property management throughout various neighborhoods in Chicago and Evanston, IL. In this capacity, her responsibilities included oversight of physical maintenance, residential and commercial leasing, budget preparation and accountability, supervision of food service and social program departments, as well as program development and community relations.
She and her family were full-time volunteers with the ICA in the 70’s and 80’s, serving in Minneapolis-St Paul, Chicago, Atlanta and Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Margaret is a native of Missouri, was a Presidential Scholar and Humanities major at Hamline University in St. Paul, and currently resides in Chicago.
Since her retirement she has been active in senior advocacy and services with Joining Forces for Affordable Housing’s Age-Friendly Housing Committee, Levy Senior Center Advisory Board, Age Options Advisory Board, and the Aging Well Evanston Conference Planning Committee. She is also a member of the Evanston Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors and an Evanston Long Term Care Ombudsman Volunteer.
Chris Brubaker has worked in a variety of legal, finance, accounting, and operations roles in industries spanning manufacturing, real estate, multi-family housing, technology, and education. He currently serves as the Director of Finance for OnlineMedEd, a digital healthcare learning platform designed for medical students and health professionals, where he leads finance, accounting, and business strategy planning.
Chris moved to Austin, TX, in 2016 from his hometown of Des Moines, IA. He has a law degree from the University of Iowa, a bachelor’s in finance from Iowa State University, and is currently working towards his Master of Accounting at the University of Connecticut.
In his own words, "I joined the ICA USA board because I believe in a just and equitable society, and support the work that ICA does. I hope to serve as a valuable resource for finance, accounting, and legal questions." May 2021
April 22, 2021 As part of Earth Day 2021, the ICA team hosted Mayor Lightfoot for a top-to-botton tour of ICA GreenRise. Mayor Lightfoot was joined by 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman, 47th Ward Alderman Matt Martin, Chicago Chief Sustainability Officer Angela Tovar and Blacks in Green founder Naomi Davis.
ICA Chief Operating Officer Lesley Showers led the group on visits to the Heartland Alliance Health Center, the rooftop solar panel array and the ICA intentional community floor.
Lesley reflected on the Mayor's visit, "It was a wonderful opportunity to share our vision our vision for positioning GreenRise as a Chicago Carbon Free Demonstration Building. 70% carbon emissions in Chicago come from buildings. Converting older buildings is cheaper and more ecologically sound than tearing them down and starting over. Incorporating our residential communities and nonprofit tenants into our overall approach establishes a model for sustainability."
ICA's Karen Snyder reports that the Mayor has encouraged Ms. Tovar to work with ICA GreenRise and program staff since August 2020. Angela connected GreenRise with Chicago’s Department of Planning, which has committed a $1.5M grant to ICA during its second closing on its building renovation.
Our history has proven that the methods of partnership, facilitation, and collaboration simply need to be brought forward and modernized. Many of these techniques and approaches have the spirit and ability to be applied to any social issue at any time in history.
Phil Waitzman joined ICA and EI has Interim Executive Director in October, 2020, bringing more than 20 years of experience working with clients both as a strategic executive leader and as a direct practice clinician. He is a Licensed Social Worker who has received an MA in Social Service Administration, a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), and a Masters in Public Health (MPH).
As we welcome in the new year, we also welcome in new leadership and staffing. ICA has hired Ashleigh Hughes as Marketing Manager of Programs. Ashleigh will lead our marketing efforts, serve as the primary liaison with external stakeholders and customers of the Technology of Participation (ToP) training program, lead customer service, and administer course registration.