100 Resilient Cities: News from Chicago

Editor’s Note: this is a slightly edited version of the City of Chicago’s press release from 2 May 2016. Also see this excellent Chicago Tribune article from 1 May 2016 by Nausheen Husain.

Aaron Koch chicago CROChicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has named Aaron Koch as Chicago’s first ever Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) as part of the city’s partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – an organization pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC).

“I’m thrilled to welcome Aaron as the City’s first Chief Resilience Officer,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Harnessing his experience and work, this position will help to build upon existing efforts within the City to fortify our communities against environmental threats and other challenges.”

100-Resilient-Cities-Centennial-ChallengeThe 100RC-funded position will allow Chicago to build on existing efforts within the City to ensure that Chicago strengthens and prepares its communities for any challenges that may arise. The CRO will work from the Mayor’s Office and coordinate policy throughout the government to ensure every Chicago community can respond to shocks like flooding or blizzards and recover at a stronger and more rapid rate, while also focusing on the stresses which impact Chicagoans on a day-to-day basis. This work will address emergency preparedness, public safety and community development in collaboration with departments and agencies across the City.

In December of 2014, Mayor Emanuel announced that Chicago was selected as a winning City to be a part of 100RC. Chicago is included in a leading community of pioneers, innovators and highly-esteemed cities ready to build urban resilience across the globe by improving their own capabilities to prepare for, withstand and bounce back rapidly from shocks and stresses.

As part of the award, the City was granted funding to hire its first CRO, as well as expanding resources and partnerships with leading experts. The CRO’s role will include the creation of a Resilience Strategy, an action-oriented roadmap to tackle current and future challenges in the City. As part of the strategy, the City will work with a broad set of stakeholders, and, with expert technical assistance supplied by 100RC, will examine the challenges it faces and its capacity to address those challenges. The City will then develop a list of priorities and initiatives that will address existing gaps, including support from 100RC partners in executing various initiatives. Additionally, Koch will be connected to a network of other Chief Resilience Officers from cities around the world to collaborate, share best practices and contribute to building the field of resilience.

“I am honored by this appointment as Chicago’s first Chief Resilience Officer,” said Koch. “I look forward to working with stakeholders across Chicago to prepare for the stresses, shocks and natural hazards that we face now and into the future.”

“Aaron joins a network of peers from cities across the globe that will share best practices and surface innovative thinking,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “Aaron will become a global leader in resilience, and will be an asset for Chicago and other cities around the world.”

Koch has worked as a deputy commissioner in the City’s Department of Water Management since 2012. He developed and implemented the Chicago Green Stormwater Strategy, Mayor Emanuel’s $50 million plan to use natural systems to better manage rainfall and reduce flooding risk. He previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. Koch holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in city planning.

About 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation

100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st Century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges.

100RC currently has 66 member cities, and will announce their third cohort of cities in late May of 2016. For more information, visit http://www.100ResilientCities.org.

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