Executive Director | Friends of the Parks
Juanita Irizarry is executive director of Friends of the Parks, a park advocacy organization which recently won a landmark legal battle utilizing Illinois’ “public trust doctrine” to protect Chicago's lakefront from development. She is now a leading voice for the minimization of impact on Chicago’s parkland as the Obama Presidential Center is developed in Jackson Park and just hosted a conference entitled “Parks as Democracy?” to call for public participation in park planning processes.
A lifelong resident of Humboldt Park, Juanita previously ran for alderman in Chicago’s 26th Ward, coming 143 votes short of a run-off. She also served in the Office of Governor Pat Quinn, coordinating the restructuring of the state's system of affordable housing for people with disabilities, and spent five years in philanthropy at The Chicago Community Trust, serving as Senior Program Officer in Human Services and Community Development. These roles built on 15 years of non-profit leadership in housing policy advocacy and community development and organizing at Hispanic Housing, Bickerdike Redevelopment, The Resurrection Project, and Latino Policy Forum.