The Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (CSLN) meets in locations all over the city to share ideas about sustainability and how to enhance initiatives.  Learn more about this group, attend their events, and consider becoming a member.  Contact us for more information.

Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network logo

  • About Us
  • Upcoming Events
  • Crowd Resourcing
  • Members

circle of people around a globe with the reduce/reuse/recycle arrows. image by We Are

  • We are a diverse, intergenerational group working on a wide variety of issues in communities across Chicago.
  • We are passionate about learning from one another and working across communities for widespread, lasting change.

Our Vision

  • We envision inclusive and just communities of civically engaged residents working together to address social disparities and promote environmental health, human well-being, and community vitality for present and future generations.
  • We value the diversity of Chicago's communities and build upon sustainable practices embedded in different cultures, honoring and learning from the past to adapt for the future.
  • We understand that change happens at many scales - individual, community, and government - and every action fits together within interconnected global systems.

What We Do

  • We connect and share resources and ideas from Chicago and beyond to strengthen our work, broaden our perspectives, and expand our creativity.
  • We support each other's community work and collaborate to develop joint network activities.
  • We build a stronger collective voice to maximize the impact of community-based wisdom on our own work and public policy.
  • We nurture the "in-between" space of collaborative governance, where community-driven initiatives intersect with regional and municipal efforts for change.

How We Work

  • We spend time getting to know each other and intentionally create spaces for interaction where everyone's voice is heard and respected.
  • We gather at different locations throughout Chicago to appreciate firsthand the various forms that community sustainability can take.


Accelerate 77 promotes many sustainability events that happen in Chicago... we recommend checking out the ones listed below. 

There are no upcoming events.

The Chicago Sustainability Resource Network (CSLN) partners with ioby, an organization that works all over the United States to crowdfund and crowdsource sustainable startups.  Learn more about ioby in this video, and visit CSLN's ioby page.  

CSLN's ioby page shows projects by CSLN members that are looking for a little help: volunteers and/or seed funding.  Check it out!

CSLN members not listed are encouraged to submit a biography.

dick alton

Richard Alton
Interfaith Green Network
Green Community Connection
Email him or call (773) 344-7172

Been part of the Green Movement for the last 5 years; before was involved outside the USofA in community development and supporting local NGOs. Presently have a lot of passion around the One Earth Film Festival and its expansion to Chicago communities as a lever for strengthening communities through networking and collaborative efforts.



toni andersonToni Anderson
Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab
Email her or call (773) 891-1967

Toni Anderson is Founding Executive Director of Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab. Toni is passionate about the speaking on the ‘outdoor divide’ and promoting climate change education as a tool to create cohesive community classrooms for our youth and communities to learn and grow. She facilitates environmental workshops on sustainability, consumer economy, monarch and urban ecology.



susanask Susan Ask
Animalia Project
Email her

Susan Ask is an ecologist and educator—and founder of animalia project. She appreciates the holistic view of sustainability that is embraced by this network. She has migrated between research and education-- working as a conservation land manager, field ecologist and university Extension agent -- since receiving an M.E.S. in ecosystem science and management from Yale University. Susan founded animalia project, a new endeavor that bridges science, action and education to create a better environment for all of us in the animal kingdom, with a focus on climate change and urban habitats.



jami beckaJami Becka
Chicago Time Exchange
Email her or call (816) 682- 9322

Jami is passionate about helping communities and organizations actualize the idea that we have everything we need if we use everything we have. The Chicago Time Exchange is the Chicago-based TimeBank that serves as a virtual pool of skills and needs.



brian bonnanoBrian Bonanno
Andersonville Development Corporation
Email him or call (773) 728-75522

Brian has worked as the Sustainability Programs Manager for the Andersonville Development Corporation since 2010. In his role there he has worked to foster social, environmental, and economic sustainability through a variety of programs that include placemaking and public art efforts, residential and commercial compost collection services, energy efficiency and green building assistance for businesses, and advocacy and action to improve pedestrian and bike infrastructure. Prior to his work in Chicago, Brian was involved in community work in Boston, Massachussetts and Des Moines, Iowa.



marla cohenMarla Cohen
Greenlawn Landscaping Inc. (Co-owner)
Email her or call 773.463.0445

Marla and her business partner Dee own and operate Greenlawn Landscaping Inc. Women owned, Greenlawn is a full service landscape business doing landscape maintenance and design installation services. This year Greenlawn entered the “Green Industry” by introducing the installation and maintenance of vegetable gardens for the home or office and offering an organic fertilizer/weed control application treatment for your lawn. Greenlawn is also Greenroof certified. We have a commitment to creating a sustainably smarter and healthier landscape for our customers.



richard dobbins jrRichard Dobbins Jr.
Entrepreneur, Landscape/Horticulture Industry
Email him or call (312) 485 - 0315

Passionate about horticulture and its relationship to urban communities. Very interested in “sustainability” its “conversation,” numerous facets and most of all “inclusiveness” and its value added significance.



JoLynn DoerJoLynn Doer
Chicago Food Co-op
Email her or call (773) 343 - 4914

JoLynn is a member of the Chicago Food Co-op and a resident of the Logan Square (housing) Coop. She believes strongly in cooperatives and community as the means toward sustainability.



melanie ecknerMelanie Eckner
Friends of Cuneo
Email her or call 773-572-9023

Melanie joined CSLN as part of her work with Friends of Cuneo, a coalition of volunteers committed to the creative adaptive reuse of historic Cuneo Hospital in Chicago. The hospital, a daylit mid-century modern gem designed by architect Edo J. Belli, is slated for demolition.

Founded to give voice to diverse concerns and ideas about the redevelopment of the former Cuneo Hospital campus, Friends of Cuneo supports:

  • the historical preservation of cultural assets
  • protection of natural resources and local wildlife
  • community-­‐oriented planning and development
  • housing across a broad range of households and incomes
  • workplaces that fulfill a spectrum of abilities and interests.

Please become a Friend of Cuneo too!


terry edlinTerry Edlin
New Community Vision

Terry Edlin, founder of New Community Vision, believes that the remedy for affordable housing exists within our communities and that mising together is an effective way to find it.

Since housing has become unaffordable, many people are looking for suitable housing, which probably means home sharing. #HousingMixers are monthly community gatherings were people explore their housing options and meet others doing the same. Over time, affinity groups may wish to set up households togetehr. New Community Vision will support people to make wise choices and communicate effectively.



leanne gehrigLeanne Gehrig
Landmarks Illinois
Email her

Leanne Gehrig joined CSLN as part of her work at Landmarks Illinois (LI), in addition to her collaborative faith-based sustainability efforts.The mission of Landmarks Illinois is to preserve, protect, and promote architectural and historic resources in Illnois through advocacy and education. Leanne brings her experience in architecture and nonprofit-program coordination to her role as Administrative and Special Projects Coordinator. Prior to working at LI, Leanne was a Project Manager at Partners for Sacred Places (Chicago office). Partners is a national advocate for the sound stewardship and active community use of older religious properties.

Leanne is a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Chicago. Recognizing the need for a congregational committee to direct the church’s involvement in addressing environmental and social justice initiatives, she co-lead a task force at the church. The team implemented activities and actions around environmental stewardship, advocacy, energy efficiency, recycling, composting, local food and fair-trade. Additionally, Leanne served on the Bishop’s Task Force on Sustainability for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. She is passionate about integrating sustainable practices into faith communities and sharing best practices. Leanne received a Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) degree from Judson University (Elgin, IL). She is also a certified LEED Green Associate.



timothy heppnerTimothy Heppner
Ecotelligent Design
(319) 321 - 7572

Timothy Heppner is the Executive Director of Ecotelligent Design where he expands knowledge, develops skills, changes attitudes and transforms habits which inspire people to become more sustainable. He is an international consultant specializing in sustainable performance metrics that identify opportunities for capturing and reducing energy, purifying and managing water, cleaning and improving air plus enriching and sustaining land. Tim is the designer, builder and curator of Charles Heppner Artist Studio, one of the most environmentally friendly homes in Chicago.



grant kesslerGrant Kessler
Chicago Market Co-op
Email him

Grant Kessler is a Steering Committee member at Chicago Market, an organizing food co-op on Chicago's north side. Grant is a strong believer that change in our food system toward local and regional networks with an emphasis on diversified, sustainable farming methods can make a large impact on both human and environmental health. Grant is also a freelance food photographer and the marketing and outreach manager for FamilyFarmed and their Good Food Festival & Conference.



ben lauBen Lau
Chinese American Service League
Email him or call (312) 791-0418

Ben Lau is the Program Manager of Housing and Financial Education Department at Chinese American Service League (CASL), a nonprofit community-based and most comprehensive social service agency in the Midwest dedicated to serving the needs of people of all ages and backgrounds of the Chinese community in the greater Chicago area. He oversees all the housing programs which include housing counseling, Small Accessible Repairs for Senior, home weatherization, energy assistance as well as financial literacy education.

CASL became a member of the Chicago Energy Action Network (EAN) in 2009. Ben employed a number of creative and culturally competent approaches to promote energy efficiency, energy conservation and ways to tackle climate change, and helped CASl become a Local Climate Hero that was recognized by Chicago Climate Action Plan team in 2010. He is dedicated to raise the awareness of energy saving and climate action in the Chinese community, and proud to be an ally of CSLN.



belinda liBelinda Li
Citta Partnership
Twitter: @CittaPartners
Email her or call 312-870-0822

Belinda Li is Founder & CEO of Citta Partnership, a Chicago-based firm that helps socially-minded companies and organizations become more sustainable and create even greater social impact by improving their business models and practices. Belinda founded Citta with the vision that, collectively, we can create a smarter world in which we can thrive economically while also achieving positive environmental and social impact. To her, this holistic approach represents what ""sustainability"" truly means and needs, and she is passionate in contributing towards the realization of this vision.
Belinda is thrilled to be a member of the CSLN, to help create a powerful platform that allows collaborations and best practice sharing between communities, because working together we can achieve more in advancing sustainability than if we work alone.

Before founding Citta Partnership, Belinda was the Program Manager of the Chicago Climate Action Plan, and before that, she was a management consultant with McKinsey & Co. Belinda currently serves on the Board of Directors of both the Illinois Environmental Council and the Social Enterprise Alliance - Chicago Chapter. She is also a member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP).



jonnie owensJohnnie Owens
Centers for New Horizons
Email him

Johnnie Owens is a lifelong Chicago resident. He has an MA in Urban Geography from Chicago State University. He periodically teaches classes at CSU in Urban Planning, Environmental Geography, and The Psychology of Urban Youth. His professional experience began working for the City of Chicago as a City Planner in the Neighborhood Planning Division. From there he went on to work for Friends of the Parks where he met and worked with our current President Barack Obama. It was through President Obama that Mr Owens was exposed to and trained in the discipline of Community Organizing as a tool for the achievement and implementation of planning goals desired by community residents. He has worked throughout the communities of Chicago, including Uptown, Roseland, Rogers Park, Andersonville Chatham, and Auburn Gresham, to name a few.

Mr Owens is now the Director of Community Building for Centers for New Horizons located in the Bronzeville community. He also serves as a member of the Steering Committee of Place Matters, a national initiative sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation to organize and aggressively promote Health Equity. He currently sits as Chairperson for the Planning and Zoning Commission for Hazel Crest, Ill. Mr. Owens’ current work involves building a grassroots organizing effort called the Bronzeville Alliance and the Bronzeville Urban Agricultural Collaborative, establishment of an urban Garden at 4158 S Calumet, and leading a grass roots organizing campaign to remake Corner Stores in the Bronzeville community.



olatunji oboi reedOlatunji Oboi Reed
Slow Roll Chicago
Email him or call (708) 831-3570

Oboi is the Co-Founder & President of the Slow Roll Chicago bicycle movement, working to build a diverse and equitable bicycle culture in Chicago. An active cyclist for over ten years, Oboi rides at the intersection of community, advocacy, economics, health, and technology. With an extensive background in both nonprofit management as well as corporate social responsibility, he is most proud of his work to create a diverse coalition of people, organizations and businesses all working together to achieve equity in bicycle usage across the the City of Chicago. Oboi is an African-Brazilian by way of cultural adoption, a proud son of the Quilombo do Remanso, and now they call him "O Bahia". He is studying the health economics of Candomble traditional healing in the African-Brazilian population of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Beleza...



lesley showersLesley Showers
Institute of Cultural Affairs
Email her or call 773-769-6363

Lesley became interested in sustainable design while studying architecture. She now lives in the ICA GreenRise and oversees the building's transformation into an energy efficient example of a mixed use landmark building. She is working towards a local solution to waste water management that will make the GreenRise even more sustainable.



latrice edwards williansLatrice Edwards Williams
Bronzeville Community Garden,
Urban Juncture Foundation
Email her

Latrice has worked on the Chicago Climate Action Toolkit for Bronzeville. She's in the CSLN because of its comprehensive approach to defining sustainability. The group's diversity and holistic approach to organizing a disparate group of individuals.

Latrice E. Williams has spent many years working in the not-for-profit sector and is active in the burgeoning urban agriculture movement in Chicago. She is considered one of the city’s young leaders in sustainability and has spoken on many panels and participated in conferences dedicated to climate action, adaptation and mitigation. She uses a wide lens to identify the various ways communities can sustain themselves with food choices being primary. Latrice is a garden manager, writer, breastfeeding peer counselor, women’s healing circle facilitator, jewelry designer, cultivation instructor and charter member of Bronzeville Bikes. She has been dubbed the Queen of Green by her project director from the Bronzeville Cookin' community development initiative.



orrin williamsOrrin Williams
Center for Urban Transformation
Email him

Orrin is an accomplished writer and emerging photographer documenting what he calls the “aesthetic of oppression” in south and west side communities in Chicago. It is his belief that the aesthetic conditions in a community contributes to determining whether a community is healthy or unhealthy and therefore oppressed.

Orrin has been an advocate for and supporter of urban agriculture for over 20 years and has been working on food access and food security issues and their relationship to ecologically sustainable development. Additionally, he is an avid advocate for the development of a sustainable green economy and the creation of green jobs. Orrin firmly believes that society is on the cusp of the Third Industrial Revolution which will transform energy, the economy and the world and that all communities should benefit from that emerging revolution.

Network Organizers


terry bergdallTerry Bergdall
Institute of Cultural Affairs
Email him

Terry Bergdall first worked with ICA as a university intern and returned in 2009 with extensive international experience in community development, organizational change, project design and evaluation. He lived and worked in Africa for 18 years where his focus was village development. This included a period as the coordinator of an action-research project in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe while employed by the Swedish Cooperative Center. He is pleased to be a part of CSLN because of its emphasis on community initiatives and ways that bottom-up development can creatively interact with, and influence, top-down planning and programming.



seva gandhiSeva Gandhi
Institute of Cultural Affairs
Email her

Seva Gandhi is a Chicago-native who has long had a passion for international community development. She earned her Masters in Social Work from University of Michigan with a focus on community organizing within the international context. Throughout the years she has worked on various rural community development initiatives in other countries. In recent years, Seva's interest had come back to Chicago, and more specifically, focusing on access to local, organic, and affordable food within an urban context. Seva currently works at the Institute of Cultural Affairs and spends a good deal of her time organizing for the accelerate77 project.



jenny hirschJennifer Hirsch
Institute of Cultural Affairs
Email her

Jennifer Hirsch is an applied cultural anthropologist working on community sustainability and social justice. She is passionate about cultural diversity and about collaborations that push people to think in new ways. Jennifer works as an independent consultant and also develops and implements projects with a variety of organizational partners in the Chicago region and beyond. Much of her work builds from community engagement initiatives that she led when she worked at The Field Museum, such as the Chicago Community Climate Action Toolkit, which provides tools for communities to take climate action in ways that enhance their local culture and move forward city and regional plans at the same time.



samantha sainsburySamantha Sainsbury
Public Allies AmeriCorps/Institute of Cultural Affairs
Email her

Samantha Sainsbury is Public Allies AmeriCorps Member and recent graduate of Northwestern University. She was drawn to the ICA as an intern after learning about the participatory ways of engaging grassroots organizations in the accelerate77 project and continues to value the realization of holistic, collaborative sustainability through the CSLN. She appreciates continuously learning about the city, the way organizations work within it, and the potential to strengthen collaborations within and across communities.”



caitlin sarroCaitlin Sarro
Institute of Cultural Affairs
Email her

Caitlin Sarro has been working on the accelerate77 project for two years. What she values most about the project is the participatory process and inclusive definition of sustainability. She believes that community led planning leads to more meaningful action and to make sustainable communities a reality requires the collaboration of many different approaches. Caitlin is a graduate of UIC's CUPPA program and recent alumni of the Americorps program Public Allies.