The CHA Board of Commissioners is the governing body that determines policies and resolutions of CHA. The Board approves decisions that chart the direction of current and future programs and authorizes the actions of the Chief Executive Officer and his designees.
The ten-member Board of Commissioners is confirmed by the Chicago City Council. All commissioners must be residents of Chicago, and at least three commissioners must be CHA residents. Employees of CHA are not authorized to serve as commissioners. Commissioners serve staggered five-year terms.
Matthew Brewer, a partner at the law firm Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP, serves on the agency’s Board of Commissioners.
At Bartlit Beck, Brewer practices commercial litigation in federal and state courts and advises clients on legal and business issues. He focuses on complicated business disputes with strategic significance, including contract, intellectual property, accounting, securities, Chinese regulatory matters, and other commercial disputes.
Brewer attended Stanford University where he served as student body president and obtained his B.A with honors. After college, he worked in the Chinese music industry as a consultant on marketing and intellectual property issues. Brewer earned a J.D. from Yale Law School and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Brewer grew up on the South Side of Chicago.
The Chicago City Council approved the appointment of Brewer as a member of the Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013.
Craig Chico is the President of the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council. With the assistance of the Board of Directors, Mr. Chico has made the BYNC a dominant community agency in the Back of the Yards Neighborhood, and a model community organization for the entire nation.The council’s mission and activities are aimed at improving the lives of all residents and stakeholders in the Back of the Yards Neighborhood, which is achieved by providing social service and economic development programs.
Mr. Chico has deep roots in the Back of the Yards community and years of experience in community service. He attended school in Chicago, at Kelly High School and at UIC. He began his professional career in his family’s business. He worked at Kopico, Inc.,his family-owned printing and marketing company. The business doubled in revenue in his time there, making Kopico Inc., a premier leader in the print industry.
Before beginning his tenure at BYNC, Mr. Chico owned and operated CACV Consulting. The firm specialized in business development and government revenue financing.
Mr. Chico currently sits on several community boards, including the Peace and Education Coalition, El Valor, Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS), Chicago Development Fund Advisory Board and Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County (CEDA), Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation Board, and the Cook County Latino Advisory Board. Among the many honors and awards Mr. Chico has received, he is most proud of the Kelly High School Hall of Fame Distinguished Alumni Award, the Neighborhood Housing Services Man of the Year Award, and MALDEF’s Excellence in Community Service Award.
Today, the BYNC serves thousands of families through a variety of different services. Some of the programs offered include: youth programming, senior assistance, technical assistance to business, and English as a second Language (ESL) courses.
Under his administration, the BYNC is responsible for economic development in both retail and industrial corridors on the Southwest Side of Chicago. The BYNC is the only organization to manage four Special Service Areas (SSAs) for the city’s Department of Planning and Development.
Under Mr. Chico’s leadership, the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council continues to serve as an anchor in the community. Its mission and programs are the driving force in the effort to improve the quality of life for the Back of the Yards.
Dr. Mildred Harris
Commissioner Mildred C. Harris is a retired schoolteacher, mentor, and ordained minister. She was first appointed to the CHA Board of Commissioners on July 7, 1999, and has since received three reappointments due to her exemplary leadership and continued commitment to CHA improvement.
As a commissioner, Dr. Harris has pioneered and contributed to various CHA-related efforts. She created the “Adopt-A-Senior Building” program, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to refurnish the sitting areas in more than 57 CHA senior buildings. As a result, CHA received an award lauding the program from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. Dr. Harris is Founder, President and CEO of God First Church and Ministries, which has contributed well over $40,000 in scholarships for CHA students. She also established a food pantry for CHA senior residents.
Commissioner Harris participates in numerous civic and religious organizations. She serves on the Advisory Board for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and on the Advisory Council for Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford; she sits on the Women’s Board of the Goodman Theatre, is a life member of the National Council of Negro Women and is an Honorary Board Member of Windows of Opportunity.
Commissioner Harris earned a B.A. Degree in Education from DePaul University in Chicago; an M.A. in Early Childhood from Columbia University in New York ; an M.A. in Human Development from Governor's State University in Park Forest, IL; an M.A. in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University in Chicago; and a PhD in Ministry from the International Bible Institute and Seminary in Plymouth, Fla. She has also completed studies in Real Estate Management.
Meghan Harte serves as the executive director of the Chicago office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). A national leader in comprehensive community development, LISC Chicago’s mission is to connect neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier. Meghan oversees a professional staff of 13, an active real estate loan portfolio, and an annual organizational budget of $8 million.
Prior to joining LISC Chicago, Meghan served as Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Deputy Chief of Staff. Previous to working in the Mayor’s office, Meghan was Vice President at AECOM. She also served as the Managing Director of Resident Services for the Chicago Housing Authority.
Meghan served as a deputy chief of staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley and held positions surrounding the 1996 Democratic National Convention and the 2012 NATO Host Committee.
Meghan holds a B.S. degree from Vanderbilt University and received her JD from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She serves on the Chicago Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, is on the board of Special Children's Charities Chicago and is a volunteer coach at ABC Pilsen.
James E. Matanky is the Chief Executive Officer of Matanky Realty Group, Inc., a commercial real estate firm founded in 1955. He oversees the organization’s development, management, brokerage and consulting divisions.
Matanky serves as the North American Chair of the International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) Ambassador Program. He is a member of the ICSC Open Air Committee and the ICSC Nexus program planning committee. Matanky regularly participates as a panelist for both the ICSC and the Urban Land Institute. He has worked with the City of Chicago as a mentor for retail redevelopment and served on the Chicago Building Departments Commissioner’s advisory panel, as well as on the Illinois Food Marketing Task Force, responsible for developing strategies to eliminate statewide food deserts. He is Chairman of the Chicago Stockyards Commission SSA#13 and participates on a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago advisory panel as well as on the Chicago Trend Steering Committee. Matanky also serves on the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was honored as a principal for a day in the Chicago public schools. He has involved himself in the community through a variety of past roles including as an officer of the West Humboldt Park Development Council, board Member for the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations, board member of the JCCs of Metropolitan Chicago and as past chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago Circle Council.
Matanky has been honored as a recipient of the Chicago Neighborhood Developer of the Year Award multiple times for his work in Chicago’s underserved communities. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Illinois, College of Law and was named as an Honorary Fellow of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Matanky graduated with honors from the University of Illinois with degrees in finance, accounting and law. He earned an honors graduate degree in law from Cambridge University, Cambridge, England. He is certified by ICSC in Executive Leadership (CRX), Leasing (CLS), Development (CDP), Shopping Center Management (CMS) and Marketing (CMD).
Matanky currently resides in Old Town with his wife and two children.
A community activist for over 23 years, Debra Parker is known in her community as a role model, mentor and consensus builder and has served as liaison between residents and local officials. An advocate for better life choices to improve the quality of life for low-income families she has traveled the country speaking on policies that affect the people she serves. Debra Parker is a member of the Housing Choice Voucher Participant Council.
A former Altgeld resident, Debra Parker served as Vice President of the Local Advisory Council at Altgeld Gardens and was a voting member of the Altgeld Gardens Working Group. Working as an Information and Referral Counselor for Teenage Mothers with the Chicago Housing Authority, Ms. Parker was able to utilize her wealth of knowledge in housing issues while addressing and promoting upward mobility for all CHA residents.
After working for over a decade for Holabird & Root Architecture, Debra’s experience and expertise in permit administration catapulted her to form her own company: Carol’s Consulting and Expediting Services that assisted small minority businesses with architectural administrative tasks as well as licensing and permits.
Debra Parker studied Organizational Leadership at Roosevelt University in Chicago and she looks forward to advancing and improving the working relationship between CHA and its Resident Leadership through shared interests and responsibilities.
A longtime business owner in Chicago, Bill Thanoukos is the co-owner/operator of the Greek Kitchen mini-chain of fast-casual restaurants (greekkitchen.com) and 42-year old Hub’s Restaurant (hubsrestaurant.com) which was founded by his father. Bill is a strident champion of the small business community of Chicago with an emphasis on entrepreneurship.
Prior to becoming Director of Government Affairs for BMO Harris Bank, Bill Thanoukos served as Chief of Staff to Chicago City Treasurer Stephanie D. Neely from June 2007 to December 2010. An attorney, he managed the day-to-day operations of the Treasurer’s Office. Bill worked directly with Treasurer Neely on a series of community outreach programs designed to assist neighborhood small businesses and increase youth and adult financial literacy. In addition to overseeing the Office’s personnel matters, Bill managed intergovernmental relationships for the Office and for the Treasurer. In his role as Chief of Staff, Bill coordinated the Treasurer’s speaking engagements/events and wrote speech content as well. He also facilitated the Office’s media relations to increase awareness of the Treasurer’s programs on a local, and at times national, level.
Bill began his career as an Assistant to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs from 2005-2007. During his tenure in the Mayor’s Office, Bill developed, analyzed and advanced state legislative agendas for the City of Chicago concerning revenue, land conveyances, gun control, health care and other areas. Furthermore, he testified before the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives committees and negotiated legislation between state and local entities. Bill also served as a liaison between various City of Chicago departments and the Illinois General Assembly.
In 2001, Bill received a Bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He received a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola University Chicago - School of Law in 2004. Additionally, Bill is a member of the State Bar of Illinois since November 2004, the Chicago Bar Association and the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC).
Francine Washington was appointed to the Chicago Housing Authority Board of Commissioners in June 2014.
A longtime and respected voice in the Chicago resident leadership community, Washington was recently elected as the President of the Central Advisory Council, and is also President of the Washington Park Local Advisory Committee. She has also served on many other important Boards in the city, including the Bronzeville Alliance, the National Public Housing Museum, and has served as at-large president of Stateway Gardens/Park Boulevard Local Advisory Council. She is also a member of the Stateway Associates Working Group.
In her various roles, Washington has aggressively addressed important issues that affect communities and residents, such as community safety, building maintenance, and the need for public housing residents to be recognized and supported. She has also seen to it that CHA residents are healthy, serving as Director of the Summer Food Program, in which CHA residents are provided healthy meals free-of-charge. She has selected sites for the program, hired and trained staff, provided management and prepared applications, contracts and applications for the program.