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Building a Relevant Historic Preservation Movement with Bonnie McDonald

May 2 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Kick off Preservation Month at the CAC with Landmarks Illinois President and CEO Bonnie McDonald! This program will explore the future of architectural preservation with her new book, “The Relevancy Guidebook,” unveiled in November 2023.
At its 50th anniversary, Landmarks Illinois embarked on an effort to explore how to move preservation forward over the next 50 years, culminating in its guiding principles. What the organization found is that preservationists across the nation are deeply questioning the practices and movement’s future. Landmarks Illinois president & CEO Bonnie McDonald was awarded a 2020 James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation Mid-Career Fellowship to help bring the field’s challenges, and solutions, to the forefront through the Relevancy Project. Between 2019-2021, she spoke to 130 individuals, both within and outside of the preservation field, to explore these questions and bring forward crowdsourced wisdom illuminating how change is possible. The project evolved into a forward-looking effort to catalogue preservation’s issues, make the case for its opportunities, highlight resources and instigate collective action toward change that will build a more relevant and just movement. Join us as McDonald explores her findings catalogued in her book, “The Relevancy Guidebook: How We Can Transform the Future of Preservation,” published by Landmarks Illinois in November 2023. Read her January 2023 Next City Op Ed and guidebook Executive Summary for a primer on the Relevancy Project’s outcomes.
Speaker: Bonnie McDonald, President & CEO of Landmark Illinois
Over her 11-year tenure as President & CEO, Bonnie McDonald has led Landmarks Illinois to become a statewide and national voice for relevant change at this inflection point for the preservation movement. Bonnie’s transformative leadership has led Landmarks Illinois to focus on people and their vital connection to place, and to develop collaborative solutions addressing community concerns like climate change, affordable housing and lack of access to capital. Her policy work to incent preservation has led to over $6B in investment in existing buildings and over 30K new jobs created. The James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation awarded Bonnie its 2020 Mid-Career Fellowship to inform, inspire and support preservation’s evolution through The Relevancy Project, a four-year interview and research initiative culminating in the recently published Relevancy Guidebook. During this time, she has also maintained her commitment to serving as volunteer and mentor in the preservation community. From 2018-2021, Bonnie chaired the board of the National Preservation Partners Network, the national nonprofit representing preservation organizations, and she currently serves as an appointee to the State of Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed Bonnie co-chair of the Chicago Monuments Project Advisory Committee in 2020 to help lead a truth and racial reckoning process around the city’s problematic artworks. Bonnie and Landmarks Illinois proudly received the AIA Chicago Distinguished Service Award in December 2022. She holds a Master’s Degree in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University.


May 2
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Chicago Architecture Center
111 E Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60601 United States
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Chicago Architecture Center
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