2017 Park Advisory Council Conference


On February 25th, 2017, over 250 Park Advisory Council (PAC) members filled Malcolm X College with lively discussion, laughter, and readiness to learn about ways to enhance their neighborhood parks.


This was the beginning of the Annual Park Advisory Council Conference – a day of networking and brainstorming hosted by the Chicago Parks Foundation and the Chicago Park District.

Guests were greeted by delicious pastries and bagels courtesy of Corner Bakery Cafe as they entered the conference space. What started on a corner in downtown Chicago, Corner Bakery Cafe is now a nationwide operation that focuses on giving back - "We've always been a part of the neighborhood. That's why it's important to us to give back to the communities around us. From sponsoring local events to helping children across America get the healthy food they need to grow and thrive, being part of the Corner Bakery Cafe team means more than just enjoying great food."

After breakfast, the PAC members were able to meet each other and talk before the opening session. They placed stickers to represent their parks on a big map of Chicago, shared how they hoped to impact their parks in 2017, and took photos. 

WBEZ's Natalie Moore

WBEZ's Natalie Moore

The opening session featured keynote speaker Natalie Moore, WBEZ Chicago's South Side reporter. Natalie discussed her own upbringing in Chicago and the challenges communities face due to segregation. The PAC members were able to reflect on the communities surrounding their parks, and how they can create programming that is inclusive and promotes diversity.

The Chicago Parks Foundation presented three PACs in each region with the Connecting Communities Award. This award will provide grants to support an innovative community events in the parks. The Chicago Parks Foundation team will support each PAC in the planning and promotion of the event to inspire the local community to connect with their park. There were so many great applicants for this award. While only three PACs received the grant, the Chicago Parks Foundation will offer thought assistance to the development of all applicant events.

I learned today that we need to network more with each park, because every park is doing something different and amazing. The more we work together, the more we can really change our city.
— Dr. Yvonne Wilson, Gately PAC

Congratulations to the 2017 winners of the Connecting Communities Award


Welles Park Advisory Council: Welles Park Advisory Council is planning to host Nature Senior Social. This event will welcome seniors from the surrounding community to an afternoon of exploring the new Welles Park NaturePlace. The event will include a tour of the natural area, food, socializing, and a free concert at the Welles Park Gazebo.

Douglas Park Advisory Council: The Douglas Park Advisory Council is planning a Naw Head for Life Reunion. The purpose of this event is to bring Lawndale and surrounding communities together to provided fun entertainment through music, art, and dance. The Naw Head for Life Reunion will mirror the North Lawndale voice by engaging the community and park patrons and heightening community awareness.

Ada Park Advisory Council: Ada Park Advisory Council is organizing the Morgan Park “House and Soul” Festival. This will be a free community event designed to promote peace, unity, and non-violence. There will be activities for every age group, including health and wellness, sports, and dance.

The Chicago Parks Foundation honored The Home Depotwith the first ever Community Leadership Award. The Home Depot is a gracious supporter of Chicago parks and communities. They supply tools at Chicago Park Foundation’s annual It’s Your Park Day and bring volunteers to work within the parks. Thank you Home Depot!

Sessions, Story Booth, Resource Fair & More!


As the day progressed PAC members attended sessions that included topics on fundraising, how to build strategic partnerships, and asset mapping. Chicago Parks Foundation hosted a story booth, where 10 PACs were able to share their stories about their involvement with their park and community. Stay tuned for the video!

After the sessions ended, PAC members sat with the expert of their choice to learn about various topics during lunch.These included Chicago Parks Foundation’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program, Permits, Art in the Parks, and Security, among others. PAC members were able to ask questions in a personal setting and get the exact information they needed. The day ended with more networking and a resource fair. Thank you all of the wonderful organizations that participated in the resource fair!  Check out the resource fair attendees here.

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2017 Park Advisory Council Conference!

And special thanks to our generous sponsors:

Jennie Scheerer