2022 Landmarks Illinois Influencers

Mariah DiGrino

Partner, DLA Piper

Mariah DiGrino is one of Chicago’s principal attorneys making adaptive reuse projects feasible and attractive to developers in the Loop and the city’s neighborhoods through incentives and public policy. As one of the all-female executive team who redeveloped the Old Post Office,  Mariah reinforces how women are in the lead on Chicago’s preservation projects.

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Eleanor Esser Gorski

Executive Director, Cook County Land Bank Authority

Through multiple leadership roles with the City of Chicago and now the Cook County Land Bank Authority, Eleanor Esser Gorski has advanced historic preservation as an integral part of Chicago’s economic and community development strategy. Her groundbreaking work to develop Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund is providing needed capital to small business owners on the city’s South and West Sides.

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Tiara Hughes

Chicago Landmarks Commissioner, FIRST 500 Founder, SOM Senior Urban Designer

Architect Tiara Hughes is a strong leader on the Commission on Chicago Landmarks where she advocates for a heightened level of equity and inclusion in the City’s landmarking process, empowering communities to decide which places they want to save. Through her civic leadership, activism, and her creation of the FIRST 500 platform to promote the voices of Black women architects, Tiara is reshaping preservation’s future for the better.

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Cheryl Johnson

Executive Director, People for Community Recovery

As Executive Director of People for Community Recovery, Cheryl Johnson has been a fierce advocate for preserving affordable housing at Chicago’s historic Altgeld Gardens and Phillip Murray Homes. A lifelong resident of Altgeld Gardens, Cheryl is a well-known and highly trusted community leader where she continues to fight for environmental justice and economic equity for south side and south suburban residents.

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Tonika Lewis Johnson

Social Justice Artist

Tonika Johnson is a photographer, social justice artist and life-long resident of Chicago’s South Side Englewood neighborhood. Her work, including that through her Folded Map Project™ and her new Inequity for Sale project, reveals injustices and inequities in real estate and land use practices, including historic preservation, and encourages us to reevaluate and create positive change.

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Stacey Pfingsten

Executive Vice President, American Institute of Architects Illinois

Stacey Pfingsten has been an effective grassroots preservation advocate and is now using her persuasive skills to imbed preservation as a part of Illinois’ extensive architecture community as AIA Illinois’ Executive Vice President. Her forward-thinking legislative and education work is positioning preservation for future success.

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Alicia Ponce

AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, Founding Principal, APMonarch

As the founder and principal at a female- and Latina- owned architecture firm, Alicia Ponce works to adaptively reuse existing and historic buildings and make them healthy and sustainable. Her efforts are not only inspirational, but demonstrate how reusing places of our past can contribute to carbon reduction and fight climate change.

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