Sustainability Council

Cook County Sustainability Advisory Council


“I am asking the Sustainability Advisory Council help us do nothing less than establish Cook County as a world-class model of sustainability, efficiency and conservation. I urge Council members to ask tough questions and to think outside the box in setting goals for sustainability.  This Council should be a catalyst for policies that will   make Cook County environmentally, socially and economically sustainable now and for the long haul.”

–Toni Preckwinkle, March 7, 2012

The Sustainability Advisory Council is tasked with working with President Preckwinkle, the Cook County Department of Environmental Control and other County departments to put forward innovative solutions and resources for sustainability programs that foster energy efficiency and decrease pollution.  The CCSAC will focus on several key areas, including energy efficiency, sustainability program financing, partnership building and information sharing to improve sustainability initiatives throughout Cook County and strengthen the County’s role as a service provider and leader of sustainable practices.  President Preckwinkle wants Cook County to lead by example by promoting more livable and sustainable communities.


Courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times

Christopher G. Kennedy, former President, Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.–Christopher G. Kennedy is the former president of Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. (MMPI). Kennedy was named president of MMPI in October 2000 and held that role until July 2011.

MMPI manages ten million square feet of space, including the world famous The Merchandise Mart along with Design Centers in Washington, D.C., and Boston and tradeshow facilities across North America. MMPI formerly managed 350 West Mart Center/Chicago Apparel Center in Chicago, until January of 2012.

Under Chris’ presidency, The Merchandise Mart along with its sister building, the Chicago Apparel Center, earned LEED certification. The Merchandise Mart is the largest LEED-certified building in the world, and The Merchandise Mart and the Chicago Apparel Center are the first- and second-largest LEED-certified buildings in Chicago, including the largest hotel in the United States to receive LEED certification and the first hotel in Chicago to be LEED certified. In 2006, MMPI joined Clean Air Counts, a voluntary initiative to reduce smog-forming pollutants and energy consumption in the greater Chicago area. That same year, The Mart Center recycling program saved over 13,000 trees and recycled nearly 11 million pounds of waste, while water conservation efforts saved 5.5 million gallons of water. It even has a machine that breaks down light bulbs and sends off the material to be recycled into new light bulbs.

Chris is currently a member of the Green Ribbon Committee, a group of business and community leaders in Chicago that advises the Chicago Climate Action Plan on its efforts to improve sustainability and environmental consciousness in Chicago by way of energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy sources and reduced waste and pollution. Chris also serves on the board of directors of the Interface Floor Covering Company, a leader in sustainability in the floor covering industry, and he sits on the board of trustees of Ariel Mutual Fund. Ariel Fund has pioneered social investing, screening against investments in companies with significant liabilities related to environmental issues. Chris is a member of the Executive Committee of the Chicago Community Trust.

In August 2009, Governor Pat Quinn (D-IL) appointed Chris to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Chris was elected chairman of the Board by his fellow trustees at the first board meeting. He was reelected as chairman in January 2010, January 2011 and January 2012.

Chris earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston College in 1986 and a master’s of management from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management of Northwestern University in 1994. He is the son of Robert and Ethel Kennedy and is the eighth of their eleven children. He currently resides in suburban Chicago with his wife, Sheila Berner Kennedy, and their children Katherine, Christopher Jr., Sarah and Clare.



Anne R. Pramaggiore, President and CEO, Commonwealth Edison–Anne Pramaggiore is president and CEO of ComEd, which has 5,700 employees and revenues of approximately $6.1 billion. ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation. ComEd delivers electricity to approximately 3.8 million residential and business customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. Exelon Corporation is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with approximately $19 billion in annual revenues. Exelon is headquartered in Chicago and trades on the NYSE under the ticker EXC.

Pramaggiore joined ComEd in 1998 to work on the company’s transition to an open and competitive energy market under the Illinois Consumer Choice Law of 1997. She began with the ComEd legal team before moving into regulatory affairs and worked on significant components of the Consumer Choice Law, including a 2007 legislative agreement that ultimately placed power purchases in the market. Prior to her appointment as president and CEO of ComEd, Pramaggiore served as president and chief operating officer (COO) of ComEd, responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company.

Before being named president and COO, she served as executive vice president of Customer Operations, Regulatory, and External Affairs. In that role, Pramaggiore oversaw distribution and transmission rate making, customer operations, and state regulatory affairs and strategy for ComEd. Additional responsibilities included the administration of environmental stewardship activities designed to promote customer satisfaction. Pramaggiore was promoted to her current position in February 2012. She is the first female to hold the post of president and CEO at the electric utility.

Pramaggiore serves as a member of Babcock & Wilcox Company Board of Directors and also the boards of the Art Institute of Chicago, DePaul University, Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago Urban League, Lincoln Park Zoo. She also is a member of The Chicago Network and the Economic Club of Chicago.

She is a 1989 graduate of DePaul University School of Law and served as editor-in-chief of the school’s Law Review. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Theater from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.


wendy Abrams photo

Wendy Abrams —Wendy Abrams is the Founder of Cool Globes, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of climate change through public art and education. Cool Globes was founded in 2006, and the exhibit, “Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet” premiered in Chicago in 2007. Since then, the exhibition has been exhibited on four continents and translated in seven languages, with Cool Globes Rio scheduled to open in 2015.

In 2011, the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic was established at the University of Chicago Law School with the goals of challenging polluters, holding environmental agencies accountable and most importantly, teaching the next generation of the best and brightest students substantive environmental law.

Wendy is a Trustee for Waterkeeper Alliance, focusing on citizen action to protect the world’s waterways, with more than 200 affiliates worldwide. Wendy also serves on the board of the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, and the Center for American Progress Action Fund in Washington D.C.

Wendy graduated from Brown University, and received an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. She lives with her husband, Jim, and their four children in (a LEED certified, geothermal powered house) in Highland Park, Illinois.


Gerald R. Bennett, Mayor, City of Palos Hills–Mayor Bennett grew up on the Southwest side of Chicago, one of 13 siblings.  He attended St. Nicholas of Tolentine Grammar School, Brother Rice High School, Lewis University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Jerry and his wife Chris were married in 1970 and lived for a short time in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago before moving to Palos Hills in 1972.  The Bennett’s have three daughters:  Sara, now Mrs. Ed Amendola, Becky, Kristin and two grandchildren.

In 1979 the Mayor was first elected to the office of Alderman from the 2nd Ward.  In 1981, at the age of 30, Alderman Bennett was elected to Mayor of the City of Palos Hills and is currently serving his eighth term.  Besides the part-time/full-time position of Mayor, Jerry is president of Bennett Dental Labs, Inc. located in Palos Hills.  He has been in business for 40 years.

Under Mayor Bennett’s leadership for the past 30 years, he has led the City of Palos Hills through a complete transformation into a modern, progressive community that is a model to all southwest suburban towns.

Mayor Bennett has devoted many additional volunteer hours by serving as founder and President of the Southwest Conference of Mayors for the last 28 years.  He is co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Southwest Central Dispatch (an intergovernmental police and fire 911 service) for the last 25 years.  In 2003 Mayor Bennett was elected Chairman of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and continues to serve on the Executive Board Committee.  He presently serves as past President of the Illinois Municipal League, and is also on the Board of Directors.  He also is the Chairman of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), a regional planning board.  In 2008 Mayor Bennett became co-Chairman of the Mayors’ Caucus 2016 Olympic Regional Committee.

During Mayor Bennett’s 30 years in office, he has been an outspoken advocate for uniting cities and villages to speak as one voice in legislative action with both our congressional and state legislators.  He has worked behind the scenes in forming and creating multi-governmental organizations that have benefited cities and villages not only in the southwest suburban area but, in metro and state regions.  Besides the many major governmental organizations in both state and regional areas, Mayor Bennett has been asked to serve and has participated in numerous task forces, committees and panels regarding all aspects of governmental services.  He has also been a guest lecturer on Public Administration at three major graduate universities in the Chicagoland area. Through his leadership Mayor Bennett has been recognized as a true voice for the mayors across metro Chicago and throughout the State of Illinois.


Jack Darin, Illinois Chapter Director, Sierra Club–Jack Darin has worked for the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter since 1989, and been its Director since 1992.    His position entails working with citizens, volunteers, public officials, business, and labor across Illinois to find and advocate for solutions to environmental problems threatening Illinois communities, and leading efforts to strengthen the membership and work of the Sierra Club in Illinois.  He has worked on a wide variety of conservation and pollution issues, with federal, state, and local agencies with environmental responsibilities, and with private sector stakeholders.

Darin has worked cooperatively with a wide range of stakeholders to clean up pollution, protect natural areas for future generations across Illinois, and promote smart energy policies.   He has been integral to key state policy changes that include Illinois’ clean energy policies, which have created over 14,000 new jobs since 2007; the permanent protection of federal, state, and local public lands for future generations; and major upgrades in Illinois’ protection of Lake Michigan and other rivers, lakes, and streams.   He has been appointed to numerous study, advisory, and working groups and task forces by various public agencies seeking to craft strategies to protect Illinois’ environment.

As the director of Sierra Club’s political efforts in Illinois, and as an individual, Darin has worked to elect pro-environment Democrats and Republicans to local, state, and federal office.    His electoral work has included campaign planning, message development and delivery, fundraising, and acting as environmental and strategic advisor to many candidates. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Josh Ellis Photo

Josh Ellis, Program Director, Metropolitan Planning Council — Josh has been with The    Metropolitan Planning Council since 2006. He directs MPC’s sustainability initiatives, most notably in the fields of Stormwater Mitigation and Water Supply Management. Through on-the-ground initiatives like the Milwaukee Avenue Green Development Corridor, technical assistance to the Northwest Water Planning Alliance, and facilitation of diverse stakeholder groups working at the state level to modernize the Illinois Plumbing Code or establish a more robust regional water supply planning process, he leads MPC’s multiple strategies to sustainably manage Illinois’ finite water resources and reduce the harmful impacts of stormwater.

He leads many of MPC’s research projects, including Immeasurable Loss: Modernizing Lake Michigan Water Use, Bus Rapid Transit: Chicago’s New Route to Opportunity, and Before the Wells Run Dry. He also coordinates MPC’s research assistant program, of which he himself is an alumnus.

A New Hampshire native, Josh resides in Chicago’s South Loop where he is a Board member of the Greater South Loop Association. He managed a small school in Japan before his graduate studies in public policy and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. His honors thesis, published in Water, Environmental Security and Sustainable Rural Development: Conflict and Cooperation in Central Eurasia, compared the political discourse of marsh restoration in southeastern Iraq with the environmental history of the region.

Josh is a member of the Midwest Leadership Council of the National Parks Conservation Association. He is President of the Board at PODER, which serves adult immigrants with a mission to provide the necessary academic tools to promote human dignity, increase employment potential, and facilitate participation in the larger community.

Sandra E. Frum, President, Village of Northbrook–Sandra E. Frum was elected Northbrook Village President in 2009. Her previous experience included 22 years as a Village Trustee. In addition, she served as a Park District Commissioner for six years as well as a member of the Northbrook Plan Commission. She is active in a variety of Village organizations including the Rotary Club of Northbrook and the Northbrook Civic Foundation.

Sandy has voted for numerous pieces of environmental legislation during her tenure on the Northbrook Village Board of Trustees. These sustainability efforts include passing the first suburban Green Build Ordinance, the purchase of 4,500 megawatt hours of wind renewable energy credits to fully power Northbrook’s water treatment facilities, implementing a community garden program, developing a robust municipal recycling program, and the purchase policy of hybrid or better technology for all administrative fleet vehicles. Sandy is also spearheading Northbrook’s current effort to develop and implement a comprehensive community sustainability plan in concert with the Northbrook Park District.

Sandy Frum was also active with OPEN (Organization to Preserve the Environment of Northbrook) in 1977-78. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois and a Masters of Teaching from Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado. She and her husband Carlos have lived in Northbrook for 35 years. They have three children and three grandchildren.


David P. Hackett, Partner, Baker McKenzie–David P. Hackett is the current North American Practice Group Coordinator for the Banking, Finance and Major Projects Group. Previously, he served as the Managing Partner of the North American Region of Baker & McKenzie and a member of the Firm’s Executive Committee. He was also the Managing Partner of the Chicago office, on the Firm’s Finance Committee, and started and managed the Firm’s International Environmental Practice Group.

Mr. Hackett practices in the environmental and climate change field and is a recognized leading expert. Lawdragon ranked him among 500 leading lawyers in the US for his global environmental expertise. He has received similar acknowledgments in the 2009 International Who’s Who of Environmental Lawyers. Previously, Mr. Hackett was a trial attorney with the Environmental Enforcement Section of the US Department of Justice where he received a Special Achievement Award.

He is a current Board Member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Academy of Sciences and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. He is co-chair of the International Committee of the Chicago Executives Club. He is past chair of the ABA International Environmental Law Committee.

Mr. Hackett represents multinationals in US and international environmental matters and has litigated a number of major US civil and criminal environmental cases. He has likewise assisted numerous multinational companies with environmental issues in over 50 countries, as well as multiple matters relating to international environmental treaties and multilateral lenders. Mr. Hackett regularly advises companies and financial institutions on environmental issues in US and multi-country transactions.


Ed Miller, Program Manager, Environment, The Joyce Foundation–Ed Miller is a 20-year veteran of protecting the environment at Great Lakes area foundations and currently serves as the environment program director at the Joyce Foundation. In this role, Miller oversees Joyce’s environment program’s direction and priorities as well as actively engages with organizations committed to developing clean energy and clean water policies in the Great Lakes region. A particular focus for the foundation over 2012-2014 is supporting the development and implementation of local and state policies to increase building energy efficiency.

Prior to joining the Joyce Foundation, Miller served as the director of the Legacy Fund at Henry Crown & Company which funded projects to reduce global warming pollution in the Midwest and strengthen conservation and sustainable development in select regions of North and Central America. Previously, as program director at the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, he worked on a range of local sustainability initiatives across Illinois, including green building design, energy efficiency upgrades for schools and other local government buildings, and community-sited wind and solar power generation.  Before moving to Chicago in 2000, Miller was a program officer at the C.S. Mott Foundation in Flint, Michigan. Miller earned a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics from Stanford University.


Kenneth Ortiz , Midwest Regional Manager, The ReUse People of America–After 20 years in real estate development specializing in adaptive reuse and restoration, Ken joined The ReUse People of America (TRP) as Midwest Regional Manager. TRP is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit whose mission is to keep reusable building materials out of the landfills. Since beginning with TRP in 2007, Ken has pioneered the deconstruction industry in Cook County, often being the first to introduce municipalities’ planning and permitting personnel to the advantage of deconstruction over demolition. He has been responsible for deconstructing over 120 houses and numerous commercial sites and keeping thousands of tons of reusable building materials out of landfills.

Ken has spoken about the value of deconstruction at many regional and national conferences, with local and national media and continues to promote the value of deconstruction and reusable building materials. A certified trainer in deconstruction technology, Ken has been responsible for numerous training programs for entry level individuals seeking a career in deconstruction and contractors looking to become certified as deconstruction contractors. Ken, a lifelong resident of Cook County, holds a BA from SIU and a MBA from Northwestern.


Gail Paul PictureGail Paul, City Administrator, City of Countryside- Gail Paul grew up in a southwest suburb of Chicago. She attended Kolmar Grammar School, Harold L. Richards High School and DePaul University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Masters of Accountancy. Gail worked a few years in public accounting as an auditor. Her first job in government was with the Village of Oak Lawn as Comptroller. After a couple years she was promoted to the position of Finance Director/Budget Officer which she served for 14 years. In 2007, Gail decided to accept the position of Director of Finance with the City of Countryside. After a few years with Countryside she was promoted to her current position of City Administrator.

Gail oversees all City operations other than police. One of her primary responsibilities is Economic Development. During her 5 years as City Administrator she has assisted with the adoption of the City’s first Tax Increment Financing District and the negotiation of several redevelopment agreements. She has worked endlessly on the City Center Development which is home to Illinois Harley Davidson, Texas Roadhouse, Hooters and Starbucks to name a few. The City recently won the 2014 Economic Development in Illinois Award from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Development Council for this development.

Gail works very closely with residents and businesses to solve issues and improve the community. She recently received the Public Servant of the Year award from the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce and Industry for her work with non-profits and the revitalization of Countryside. Gail serves as the City’s liaison to the Countryside Business Association, she is an active member of the West Central Municipal Conference, the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and she recently served as the Chairman of the Lyons Township Quarry Advisory Council.

Gail currently resides in a southwest suburb of Chicago with her husband John and their three sons Elijah, Spencer and Dominick. Gail’s hobbies include photography, scrapbooking, and travel.


Jean Pogge, Chief Executive Officer, Delta Institute–Jean Pogge is CEO of Delta Institute, a center of innovation that creates market opportunities to achieve environmental sustainability and economic development.  Pogge is known nationally as a leader in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors with a particular expertise in building triple bottom line institutions.  Pogge spent 18 years at ShoreBank, the first and largest community development and conservation bank in the U.S.  At ShoreBank, Pogge served as Executive Vice President of the Community and Consumer Banking Group and was a member of the bank’s Executive Leadership Team.  Prior to joining ShoreBank, Pogge served as President of the Woodstock Institute, a national non-profit research and policy organization working in the areas of fair lending, wealth creation, and financial systems reform policy. She also has served as curriculum consultant and adjunct professor for the Certificate in Non-profit Management through the Great Cities Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Jean holds a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago and a Bachelor’s degree from Barat College.


David Pope, Former President, Village of Oak Park–David Pope was elected President of Oak Park in April 2005.  He brings to the role a professional background as a management consultant, having served as a Principal with Price Waterhouse’s Strategy Consulting Practice.  David has made intergovernmental coordination a priority and has instituted improved accountability and a results orientation that goes well beyond typical public sector practices.

The senior leadership of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (the Mayors of Trenton, Miami, and Seattle) in 2007 appointed David to the conference’s leadership group (40 mayors from across the U.S.) and named him Co-Chair of the Conference’s Sustainability Task Force.  Here in Illinois he also serves as Co-Chair of the Environment Committee for the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus.  He also served as the initial convener of the West Cook County Housing Collaborative.

He received his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School as an Austin Fellow.  He was a founding Board Member of RAINN – the United States’ national rape crisis hotline.  He also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand for 2 ½ years.  David considers himself tremendously fortunate to be the husband of Beth Houle and the father of two wonderful daughters, Elise and Vivienne.


Kelly Shelton, President, Shelton Solutions, Inc.–Kelly Shelton is a knowledgeable and highly skilled energy manager and consultant with over 20 years of professional experience.  She has held various positions of increasing responsibility from Systems Engineer to Sales Manager to Energy Management Director.

Ms Shelton’s technical background is extensive and includes sustainability strategy development, energy audits, energy procurement advisory services, retro-commissioning, utility management and oversight, market research and community outreach.

As President of Shelton Solutions Inc., Ms. Shelton provides comprehensive energy management services to many clients in the private sector as well as state and local government.  Kelly has extensive experience with state and utility energy efficiency and sustainability programs and has served as an application assistance provider and community outreach administrator.

Shelton Solutions created the School-Based Trade Ally Program, funded by the State of Illinois, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, to help school districts bring energy projects to implementation.

Ms Shelton, who has been named Energy Manager of the Year by the Association of Engineers, is a LEED AP. Ms Shelton holds memberships in various industry organizations including the Illinois Chapter of the U. S. Green Building Council, the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and the Illinois Solar Energy Association.

She is a Certified Energy Manager, a Chartered Industrial Gas Consultant and a past co-chair for the Chicago Solar Partnership.  In addition, Ms. Shelton is President of the Chicagoland Chapter of the Association of Professional Energy Consultants.  She also co-wrote an early version of the Energy Plan for the City of Chicago.

Ms. Shelton is a much sought after speaker on energy efficiency and sustainability. She has been a guest speaker and trainer for utility meetings, U.S. Department of Energy meetings, Aldermanic meetings, and numerous civic organizations. Her topics include renewable possibilities, energy efficiency, and environmental sustainability.

Kelly holds a Master of Engineering Management from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL.
A native Chicagoan with strong community involvement, Ms. Shelton donates her time to inner-city youth and serves as a mentor for young girls at one of the Chicago Public Schools.


Kathryn Tholin, Chief Executive Officer, Center for Neighborhood Technology–Kathryn Tholin is the CEO of the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a nonprofit center for innovations that, since 1978, has been a national leader in promoting urban sustainability—the more effective use of existing resources and community assets to improve the health of natural systems and the wealth of people, today and in the future. CNT is a creative think-and-do tank that combines rigorous research with effective solutions for communities in the areas of climate, energy, water, transportation and community development.

In her role as CEO, which she has held since 2005, Ms. Tholin directs CNT research, demonstration, and policy development in transportation, community development, water and green infrastructure, energy, and climate change mitigation. During her tenure, CNT has nearly doubled its staff; developed and released the nationally recognized Housing+Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index; and been awarded a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. In 2008, CNT conducted research for the City of Chicago’s Climate Action Plan, including the development of a greenhouse gas emissions baseline for the city and region, and documentation of the 33 different mitigation strategies that would meet the City’s greenhouse gas emissions targets. In 2009, she served as Project Director of the Illinois Smart Grid Initiative, a collaborative project to develop a consumer-centered approach to smart grid development in Illinois.

From 2000 to 2005, Ms. Tholin was the founding General Manager of CNT Energy (originally Community Energy Cooperative), where she was responsible for the development and management of energy-efficiency and demand reduction programs in the Chicago area, including an innovative multifaceted, geographically targeted demand reduction program; a natural gas price protection program for residential consumers; and the Energy-Smart Pricing Plan, the nation’s first real-time, market-based pricing program for residential customers.


Eugene Williams, Mayor, Village of Lynwood–Eugene Williams is completing his 2nd term as the Mayor of the Village of Lynwood. Prior to becoming Mayor, Gene served many years as a Village Trustee. He was also a Fire & Police Commissioner and a member of the Community Relations Committee.

Gene is a former Chicago schoolteacher and journeyman Sheet Metal Mechanic. He earned his Teaching Certificate at Chicago State University and began teaching the Sheet Metal Trade at Chicago Vocational High School and later for the Sheet Metal Workers Union Apprenticeship Program at Washburne Trade School.

Gene is immediate past president of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association (SSMMA), where he still serves on the Legislative Committee, the Transportation Committee, and the Little Calumet Watershed Planning Council.