Friends of the Parks Appoints New President

Cassandra FrancisFriends of the Parks (FOTP) has appointed a new President, Cassandra Francis. She succeeds Erma Tranter who served as President of the non-profit organization for thirty-three years.

“The Board of Friends of the Parks is excited to welcome Cassandra Francis as our new President,” said Board Chair Lauren Moltz. “We are so grateful to Erma Tranter for her extraordinary leadership. Her advocacy work has truly made a difference in the quality of life in this city. She built FOTP into the strong and vital organization it is today.”

The mission of FOTP is to preserve, protect and improve Chicago’s parks and forest preserves. The organization often collaborates with the Chicago Park District, park advisory councils and educational, cultural and environmental organizations to help make public open spaces safer and more sustainable.

A Chicago native, Francis brings local knowledge and a deep commitment to Chicago parks as well as expertise in urban planning, real estate development, and nonprofit management. In her role as Director of Olympic Village Development for Chicago 2016, she led the planning of this highly-visible component of Chicago’s Olympic plan. Prior to the Olympic Village project, Francis was Senior Vice President at U.S. Equities Realty and was instrumental in successful, high-profile projects including MetraMarket, the Stroger Hospital campus master plan, and the City of Chicago Brownfields Redevelopment Program.

“I am honored to continue the successful work of Erma Tranter, innovatively enhancing, maintaining and programming open spaces with the participation of local communities and the support of broad constituencies,” Francis said.

Francis is a board member of the Chicago Loop Alliance, and plans to leverage that position in her work at FOTP. “Placemaking is creating welcoming spaces in which all communities can meaningfully participate in both passive and active engagements,” Francis said. “From implementing the Last Four Miles project realizing Burnham’s plan of continuous public access along Chicago’s entire lakefront, to completing the installation of 300 neighborhood playgrounds in partnership with the Chicago Park District, Friends of the Parks will continue to pursue transformative projects that impact the lives of City residents and visitors.”

Francis is a certified urban planner by the American Institute of Certified Planners, a USGBC-certified LEED AP and a member of the Counselors of Real Estate. She currently serves on the Chicago Advisory Board of the Urban Land Institute, is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and is a former International Board of Governors member of the honorary land economics society Lambda Alpha International.

A former U.S. National Team rower, Francis is an outdoors enthusiast, enjoying rowing, cycling, and hiking. She is a graduate of Smith College with a BA in architectural studies and the University of Illinois at Chicago with a MA in urban planning and policy.

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