(Photos: Lisa with Charlie Pipal and preservation supporters at a protest in 1995 to save Chicago’s 600 block of N. Michigan Avenue.)
March 4, 2020
Originally published in the February 2020 edition of The Arch newsletter
Landmarks Illinois Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera recently celebrated 20 years working for the organization. A Detroit native, Lisa has devoted two decades to helping people in Illinois save the places that matter to them and their communities. We asked Lisa to reflect on her time with Landmarks Illinois and tell us what it is like leading LI’s advocacy programs – the heart of our organization’s mission.
LANDMARKS ILLINOIS: Tell us what a typical day in the life of LI’s Director of Advocacy looks like. Is there such a thing as a “typical day?”
LISA DICHIERA: I am on the phone 50 percent of the day talking to anyone from public officials, building owners, local community advocates, realtors, developers, architects, planners, attorneys and students. My teenage sons have heard me doing this work all their lives. One of my sons recently told me sometimes I sound like a psychologist because I have to calm down panicked people who call our office for help. No day is typical, no building is typical, no scenario is typical – that’s what keeps this work interesting and challenging.
LI: What is the best advice you can give to people trying to save places in Illinois based on your two decades of experience providing resources to residents hoping to preserve important places in their communities?
LD: Don’t go it alone. Building a coalition is essential. Elected officials need to hear from many constituents. Also, don’t just focus on the aesthetics argument for a historic building’s value – focus on the economic, environmental, cultural and community benefit of historic preservation.