Chicago Announcements November 17, 2021

The Metropolitan Planning Council’s Board of Governors announced their selection of Darlene Hightower as the organization’s new president and CEO. Hightower is currently vice president of community health equity at Rush University Medical Center. She will take over in January following the retirement of previous CEO Mary Sue Barrett. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday nominated Kenneth Meyer to serve as the next permanent commissioner of the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. Meyer has worked for the city for more than 25 years and began serving as the department’s interim commissioner since former Comm. Rosa Escareño retired in July. Prior to being named interim commissioner, Meyer served as first deputy commissioner of the department since 2016. Meyer also served as chief of staff for the city’s Department of Buildings. His nomination is subject to City Council approval. 

Separately on Tuesday, Lightfoot officially nominated Erin Harkey as the next commissioner of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. If confirmed by City Council, Harkey would replace former Comm. Mark Kellywho retired this fall. Prior to her nomination, Harkey has worked for the city for five years beginning as projects administrator, then deputy commissioner for programming and finally, Kelly has served as first deputy commissioner of the department since 2021. 

Finally on Tuesday, Lighfoot nominated Andrea Kersten to serve as the next Chief Administrator of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA). Kersten has served as COPA’s interim chief administrator since former Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts resigned in the spring. Kersten has also served as deputy chief and chief of Investigative Operations. Lightfoot’s nomination is proving controversial though, as 19 aldermen sent a letter to Lightfoot on Tuesday saying they are “dismayed, disheartened and outraged” over a report recently released by COPA recommending a three-day suspension for the late police officer Ella French who was killed in the line of duty earlier this year. The report was released under Kersten and aldermen wrote in the letter that they are “vehemently opposed” to her nomination as COPA chief administrator. 

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