Leonard named to head community development


Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz announced today the appointment of Johanna Leonard as the city’s director of community development.

Leonard has been with the City of Evanston since 2010, serving as economic development manager since 2013. She’s been responsible for overseeing the city’s activities associated with the retention, expansion, and attraction of businesses and the marketing of Evanston’s business districts to the community and region.

Notable activities during that time have included the attraction of Trader Joe’s to Evanston, retention and expansion of Evanston’s only car dealership, support for the creation of the special service area for businesses along the Chicago Avenue corridor, and the redevelopment of city-owned properties into commercially viable uses on Howard Street.

Prior to joining the city, Leonard worked for a development consultant that served municipal and development clients seeking development advisory services, tax increment financing analysis and studies, and real estate market studies.

She says her passion for urban planning began when she worked as a community organizer at the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a not-for-profit research and advocacy organization working to improve urban environments through sustainable and community collaborative solutions. 

Leonard holds a master’s degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Loyola University Chicago.

Johanna was born and raised in Evanston and graduated from ETHS.  She, her husband, and their young son live in Evanston.

“Evanston is fortunate to have such a talented, home grown professional take on the important job of director of community development.  Johanna is a thoughtful, smart community builder whose passion for Evanston is unmatched.  She is the leader we need as the city continues to enhance the livability of Evanston.” Bobkiewicz said.

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