Chicago Selects New Chief Resilience Officer

Like other global cities, Chicago faces many challenges at the outset of the 21st Century. Overcoming these requires an ability to be resilient, to bounce back from adversity and to over-prepare for eventual hardship. To help in this fight, Aaron Koch has been named the first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) in Chicago.

koch_aaronThe new position is inspired and funded by the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) initiative. A project of the Rockefeller Foundation, 100RC helps cities around the world become more resilient to the challenges unique to each city, whether they be social, economic or physical. In addition to financial support for the CRO position, 100RC provides resources for drafting a resilience strategy and connects cities so they can share best practices for becoming more resilient.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Aaron as the City’s first Chief Resilience Officer,” said Mayor Rahm 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.”

As CRO, Koch will work in the Mayor’s Office, coordinating policy among various departments to ensure that Chicago can adequately respond to and recover from natural disasters such as flooding and blizzards. “I am honored by this appointment as Chicago’s first Chief Resilience Officer,” Koch said. “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.”

But Koch will also have to address public safety and community development in addition to emergency preparedness. When Chicago was named as a participant in the 100RC initiative back in December 2014, the key challenges facing the metropolitan area were aging and failing infrastructure, flooding and endemic crime and violence.

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.

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