Stewardship Excellence Award: Cassandra J. Francis
Cassandra J. Francis was selected as a recipient of TCLF's 2015 Stewardship Excellence Award in recognition of her advocacy and leadership in protecting and promoting the sound stewardship of Chicago’s unrivaled network of parks and boulevards. In particular, as president of Friends of the Parks, she demonstrated exceptional courage, resilience, and principled determination to prevent the confiscation of portions of two Olmsted-designed parks – Washington Park and Jackson Park – for use as the site of the Barack Obama Presidential Library. In addition, she has been a strong defender of open space in opposing the siting of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art on lakefront land just south of Soldier Field. These actions emphatically demonstrate the important role of advocacy in the promotion of a stewardship ethic, and offer encouragement and a role model for others throughout the Chicago area and the nation.
Prior to joining Friends of the Parks, Francis was the director of Olympic Village Development for the Chicago 2016 initiative, and was senior vice president at U.S. Equities Realty. A certified urban planner and a former U.S. National Team rower, she holds a B.A. in architectural studies from Smith College and an M.A. in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.