Board of Directors 2015-16

 GSLA Board  Comments Off on Board of Directors 2015-16
Oct 042015

From Deb Soehlig, incoming President:

As the incoming President of the Greater South Loop Association, I’d like to offer a HUGE thank you to Jeanette Johnson, our outgoing President for her years of outstanding service as Vice President and President. It makes my term much easier to follow in the footsteps of someone who cares so passionately about our community and our association. Thank you Jeanette!

I’d also like to thank Bill Van Emburg, a multi-year director and treasurer for his years of service. Alison Jackson also did not rejoin the board, but remains active as a member of our events committee. Thanks Alison, for the great events you’ve put on with us, and for continuing to support us.

Our annual elections were held Saturday, October 3, 2015 and I am pleased to announce that we have three new directors, Cristina Bothe-Hall, Sarah Cardona and Gail Filikowski. All have been active members of the south loop community and bring new areas of experience to the board. Congratulations and welcome to each of you.

In addition, returning directors include Jeff Key, Josh Ellis and me. Jeanette Johnson, Norma Jordan, Mark Kieras, Kim McMiller and Frank Readus remain directors as well.
I look forward to the upcoming year and serving the greater south loop community.

Board of Directors 2014-15

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Oct 072014

2014-15 GSLA Board of Directors: left to right: Kim McMiller; Deborah Jo Soehlig, vice president; Jeff Key; Frank Readus; Chris Takacs; Alison Jackson; Josh Ellis, secretary; Norma Jordan; and Jeanette Johnson, president. Not pictured is Bill Van Emburg, treasurer.

The board of directors of the Greater South Loop Association received nominating petitions for the board of directors and held its annual election on Saturday, October 4, 2014 at the DayStar Center located at 1550 S. State Street.

Officers were elected to the board as follows:

  • Jeanette Johnson, President
  • Deb Soehlig, Vice President

Directors elected to the board:

  • Norma Jordan
  • Frank Readus
  • Chris Takacs
  • Alison Jackson was appointed to fill a one year vacancy.

Incumbent board members who have 1 year remaining in their term include: Josh Ellis (Secretary), Jeff Key (Director), Kim McMiller (Director), Bill Van Emburg (Treasurer).

Special thanks to Gail Rutkowski who moved from the South Loop recently and resigned her director role. She gave many years to our organization and pioneered our Bash on Wabash event in the early days. We are excited to have her visit the neighborhood in the future and enjoy how far the community has come!

We have a director position available and are considering candidates. Please do not hesitate to reach out and talk about the role with us. Additionally, looking to 2015 we are seeking additional contributors on our committees. If you love the South Loop like we do – we want to talk with you!

Thank you to all of my fellow board members who give of their time in order to continue the growth of our neighborhood.

The South Loop needs YOU!

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Sep 182014

We meet so many great neighbors that are looking for a way to give back to our beautiful neighborhood and our annual election is the perfect opportunity to join our board and contribute! In addition, we have volunteer opportunities ranging from special projects to committee participation to board member seats.

What a perfect way to lend your time and talents to continue to develop our neighborhood into a diverse and vibrant community!

Here are some of our committees:

  • Community Enhancement
  • Communications (including social media)
  • Condominium living associations
  • Events
  • Bash on Wabash festival committee
  • Membership and promotion of our South Loop’on program

About our board:
We have an 11 member Board of Directors and 5 of our director positions are expiring this year. Each Board member is elected for a two-year term by the current sitting Board members. The Board then elects the officers for the upcoming terms (President and Vice President are 2 years each with the VP succeeding to the President. Nomination forms are available on our website and should be submitted either via email or to a current board member by Monday, September 29th.
We invite all community members to get involved – either by seeking Board or committee membership. If you don’t feel you have the time to commit to either of those roles, we still encourage you to get involved in the community by attending community events, neighborhood and association meetings and by supporting our local businesses.

Feel free to send us an email to learn more or stop by our meeting on Saturday morning to chat with us.


Jeanette Johnson, President

Greater South Loop Association

GSLA Board comment letters on South Loop development proposals

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May 102014

At the May 1, 2014, Board meeting of the Greater South Loop Association, our Board decided to begin posting copies of our comment letters on South Loop development proposals to our web site. Moving forward, those letters will be posted here. We believe in being transparent and accountable, and posting these comment letters publicly is consistent with that.

GSLA is often asked for comments on South Loop development proposals by area Aldermen, and on occasion staff from City of Chicago departments or the developers themselves. This is particularly true when the developer needs a zoning change or some other variance from an established policy.

We vet these proposals by featuring them at South Loop community updates meetings, which we hold every two months. See our events calendar for details on when upcoming meetings will be. At those meetings we ask developers to present their intentions, and then we have facilitated question and answer sessions. Increasingly we also distribute surveys so that people who feel more comfortable writing their thoughts can make sure they are “heard.”  We also solicit comments through our Facebook and Twitter outlets.

Then our Community Enhancement committee reviews those comments and applies their own expertise and viewpoints to author our comment letters, which the Board then considers and after review and editing, approves. We send them directly to the entity that requested them.

SO… that means you have four outlets to be involved in shaping these letters:

  • Come to our Community Updates meetings and take part in the discussion
  • Weigh in on Facebook and/or Twitter
  • Join our Community Enhancement committee
  • Join our Board

Please send an email to us if you are interested in joining or learning more about any of these options, or if you have comments or questions about our Board letters.

Board comment letters (starting in 2014 and going forward)

Home, South Loop, Home: Meet Josh Ellis

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Mar 082014

Josh Ellis, a GSLA Board member since October, 2013, shares some thoughts on why he joined the Board, and more broadly speaking, why he engages in community life in the South Loop:

Short version of the story: Last Tuesday my wife and I bought our first home, right here in the South Loop. That’s exciting. What’s also exciting is the prospect of working with GSLA, all of our members, and the broader neighborhood, to make the South Loop a truly great neighborhood. I’m in for the long haul, and over the next few years there are going to be some big changes in the neighborhood, which is great. But rather than watch from the sidelines and simply receive/observe whatever changes the combined forces of market dynamics and city politics result in, I joined the GSLA Board so that I could help steer that change, yes, but also so that we might grow our organization’s capacity to help the community steer that change. That’s exciting too.

Long version of the story: For years I lived in Hyde Park, which is a tough neighborhood to be a new guy in. I was a graduate student at U. of Chicago, and so long as I was in school, there was a sense of community. After I graduated I continued living there, and as my connection to campus life dissipated, I began to realize how difficult it was going to be for me to really get involved. I didn’t have enough standing, I hadn’t lived there long enough, I was 30 years younger than other people at community meetings, I didn’t have kids… the list went on and on. At the same time I was working evenings in Pilsen, at a school called Poder (by day I work for the Metropolitan Planning Council), and while I like Pilsen, it was too far from the lake for me to seriously consider living there. I would ride my bike home, along 18th Street and then down the lakefront, and when I would get to the intersection of 18th and Michigan, waiting for the light to change, I would think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I just lived here?” It was closer to both of my jobs, had easy access to the lakefront, and when you’ve been working for 12 hours, a cold beer at Kroll’s is really appealing.

So I moved into 1801 S. Michigan. I have moved once since, got married at Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens, have fully embraced how easy Divvy makes my commute (yes, even during this brutal winter), and last week my wife and I bought a place at 13th and Wabash. And I joined the GSLA Board.

I’ve already alluded to the three things I love most about the South Loop.

First, access. I work in the Loop and my wife works in the suburbs. She has much easier access to the expressways than folks in many other parts of the city do, and when the schedule works, can get to Union Station pretty easily too. My commute is the stuff of humblebrag. From locking my door, checking out a Divvy, riding 1.5 miles, checking it back in, and going upstairs to the office… 15 minutes. There aren’t too many neighborhoods in Chicago that allow for that. The South Loop does.

DSCF3786Second, the lake. The lakefront path is obviously great for cycling, running and strolling, and if I had a boat it would be good for that too. The spring/summer/fall benefits of the lakefront don’t require much exposition. But this winter the lakefront has been awesome – seriously. I can walk out the door, cross over to the lake at 18th Street, and be snowshoeing or sledding in minutes. Minutes. It’s simply not a big deal to get out there and make the Chicago winter a fun, active, awesome thing. There aren’t too many neighborhoods in Chicago that allow for that. The South Loop does.

Third, the neighborhood is still figuring itself out. There are certainly some folks in the South Loop that have been here for a while, and places like Printer’s Row and the Prairie Avenue District have a pretty established identity. For a lot of the rest of us, the South Loop is new territory. In my mind, that’s great. Because we haven’t figured out who we are, it also means we haven’t figured out who we aren’t, and that means everybody belongs. I hope it stays that way, even while the neighborhood develops a greater sense of identity. Ideally (at least to me) that identity is inclusive, active, friendly, worldly, helpful, and focused on the future. You want jazz? We got it. You want craft beer? We will soon have it. You want to be in a running club? Done. You want to be left alone? Nobody is going to be in your face about it. You want to be engaged in the community? There are outlets for you, GSLA being one of them. We all get to be a part of defining the South Loop, and in a way that speaks to all of us. There aren’t too many neighborhoods in Chicago that allow for that. The South Loop does.

So I am excited, and I am making this my home,  and working with the GSLA and all of you, we’re going to make this place an even Greater South Loop.