Project Management

My Project Management Journey

Village of Riverdale, Illinois

Comprehensive Economic Development Plan

The major challenge we had to overcome was assisting the Economic Development Director to engage and include the community in a Comprehensive Plan.  Selecting a diverse steering committee was fairly easy, because these individuals were eager for improvements and change.  When it came to resident’s participation, it more challenging.  The village residents had been involved in many organized planning committees over the years, never to witness the actualization of the plans.  From the very first gathering, tensions were high within the community and difficult to manage because of the existing disdain.  Ultimately, after close observation of concerns expressed, we had to separate the residents into groups with similar issues.  Grouping them together allowed for order to occur, allowing each group focus on their issue.

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Rebuild Together-National Building Day

Rebuilding Together is an organization working to preserve affordable home-ownership and to revitalize communities. Our team reached out to the residents to have them complete the application, while we simultaneously worked on getting permits to insure a successful event.  The event was held on April 26, 2014.  100 corporations with skilled laborers and service organizations volunteered to paint, re-route electricity, provide plumbing fixes, new vanities and flooring.  They replaced broken toilets, installed handicap accessories, appliances, new windows, landscaping, carpentry repairs, and demolitions of weak structures like garages.  Approximate 30 families received these services on this day.  Toni Pretwinkle spoke eloquently about the event.  It was a very powerful day for everyone who received services.

Juvenile Justice Court – Thought Leadership

When I was appointed project manager at the Village of Riverdale, I worked with people in the community of all ages with many interests.  It was my duty to provide resources and useful activities for a municipality of approximately 13,500 residents, and 100 or so businesses.  It was challenging but rewarding. The community was low on resources and had not associated itself with neighboring communities to leverage its opportunities.

The main issues that were continually looming in the community were crime and vandalism. These activities were mostly spearheaded by youth in the community having too much idol time.  

At the time, the juvenile courts were bombarded with a mix of misdemeanors, as well as crimes punishable by law.  Within the role of project manager, I was appointed the liaison for the juvenile courts.  It was my responsibility to oversee tasks that youth with minor infractions were to perform, such as community clean up.  However, I didn’t believe tasks like cleaning, raking, or picking up trash was going to provide positive direction for the participants, so I put together a project I felt would address some of the issues at-risk youth were experiencing.

I designed and organized a program referred to as, “Juvenile Justice Court – Thought Leadership” where juveniles with minor infractions shadowed mentors, attended career-related field trips, thought and wrote about their goals as well as their mistakes.  These interactions exposed youth to career possibilities and changed the way they thought about their future.  I was able to receive a commitment of $10k to kick-off this project.

Back to School Parade and Book Bag Bash

Prior to the juvenile liaison appointment, I organized a Back-to-School Bash which enhanced Village resident’s hope for engagement and inclusion. My team and I secured funding and gave away useful resources to residents provided by corporations and local businesses.  This project was a learning experience where I was able to build relationships with locals, both businesses, residents and their families.  The event was well received by all.  Approximately 1/3 of the residents attended this event.

Riverdales Seasonal Youth Work Program

I was able to collaborate on a project that matched teenagers with summer jobs in six south suburban communities of Chicago.  In partnership with the Senator’s office where federally funded stimulus funds were secured, approximately 75 youth were put to work during the summer months. Job seekers were matched with employers. There was a series of pre-screening to determine youth interest for best placement. Approximately 25 businesses in the community participated in the program of which I managed solely.  This opportunity was presented two years in a row, and it was successful.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly – 1st Annual Small Business Workshop

1st Annual Small Business Workshop on Wed. November 6th, 2013 at the Riverdale Resource Center 13725 S. Wabash Riverdale, Illinois 60827 from 10a.m. to 2p.m.,

The small business workshop had the following areas of focus:

  • Access to Capital (Micro Lending, Grants, Loans, Forming Partnerships, Grants from Private Foundations)
  • How to Access Contracts (IDOT Small Business Contracts, Federal Contracts, Contracts with Healthcare and Family Services and Construction Contracts)
  • How to Create Business Plans and Marketing Plans
  • Discussion of WBE, MBE, and DBE Enterprises (The pros and cons of the process)

There were 8 panelist who spoke to a crowd of small business owners and to those that were seeking to start small businesses. There was a resource table made available for panelist and their assistants engage with the attendees.  It was a packed house, standing room only.

The coolest part about all of this was to learn that Congresswoman Kelly once rented space in the Resource Center and her office was my office, Ste. 107.  A very powerful piece of information!

Black History Celebration 2014

The Village of Riverdale and George S. Patton School celebrated Black History for three days.  The first day was an assembly held at Patton that would full of performances by students from all grades.  Parents were in attendance as well.  Awards were distributed and everyone in attendance had a great time.

Day two was equally amazing where Riverdale officials presented and involved the students in meaningful dialoug

During Black History Month 2014, I planned a tour for the eighth grade class to visit Chicago State University.  The tour guide showed showed the cafeteria, the library, and the dorms.  The students were impressed with the tour and some of them even said they would  consider attending CSU in the future.

Rebuild Together-National Building Day

Rebuilding Together was an organization working to preserve affordable homeownership and to revitalize communities. Our team reached out to the residents to have them complete the applications, while we simultaneously worked on getting permits to insure a successful event.  The event was held on April 26, 2014.  100 corporations with skilled laborers and service organizations volunteered to paint, re-route electricity, provide plumbing, new vanities and flooring.  They replaced broken toilets, installed handicap accessories, appliances, new windows, linen, landscaping, carpentry repairs, and demolitions of weak structures like garages.  Approximate 30 families received these services on this day.

In March of 2014, the administration was reorganized.  I was appointed as the communication manager, and my duties changed.  However, I had developed an interest in working with the community.  I inquired about continuing the journey of service in the community while maintaining communications for the village, the request was granted.

The survey revealed concerns about the lack of employment in and around the community.  I then organized the largest job and resource fair the small town had seen in years.  I worked with the department of employment services as well as local businesses to identify resources and job opprotunities.  A series of job readiness workshops were conducted prior to the main event, led by Illinois Department of Employment Services representative Reginald Whitley.

The job fair garnered over 50 employers and approximately 200 seekers, where 3% of job seekers where hired. 

Communications Management

As communications manager, I managed the quarterly newsletter and wanted to extend its reach.  I inquired about starting an advertisement campaign to offset the cost of printing the publication, which was delivered to every business and resident within the village’s boundaries.  This venture was really angled to engage the business community and get residents and businesses talking again.  By creating a quarterly newsletter, where none existed, communications were increased in the village by 80%.  Advertisements from local businesses enhanced the paper and its reach.

Relationships with internal and external stakeholders has allowed me to become efficient in managing comprehensive technical deliverables.  My experience working in fortune 500 firms such as the Quaker Oats Company where I consulted as Gatorade’s National Rebate Manager, and at the American Bar Association where I was part of a transitional Web design / development team. 

As the Communications Manager at the Village of Riverdale my responsibilities were considered the first responder for both internal and external customers.  Responsibilities included:

  • What information needs to be disseminated?
  • Who is the audience, and how many types are there?
  • When to release the information?
  • Formatting the information?
  • By what medium will we transmit the information?

Riverdale Newsletters

Publication Date: Fall 2014

Publication Date: Spring 2015

Publication Date: Summer 2015

Publication Date: Fall 2015

Community Building

At this point I felt it was time to hear from the people, so I organized a way to reach parents in six schools throughout the village by survey.  I worked with local organizations that were interested in doing business with the village to help collect the data.  This was a way volunteers interested in doing business with the village to be vetted so that I could learn if they would be a good fit for the village moving forward.  Volunteers were eager to help collect information.  From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for one day volunteers were allowed to distribute their literature in exchange for collecting data.  The village agreed to provide lunch for the volunteers. 

Amnesty Program

This project was one of my first introduction to the Riverdale community from a corporate stand point. The Amnesty Program for Parking Tickets allowed me to produce the first mass mailing to village residents and businesses.  It allowed for a better understanding of the Village’s landscape.

Residents were excited about the opporutnity to take advantage of the Amnesty program, and they did.

Job Fair & Readiness Workshops

This was the absolute best hiring event the Village had ever witnessed, on the coldest day of the year.  On that day the lowest observation reported by Weather Underground was -2 degrees Fahrenheit, February 27, 2014. Both employers and my team thought no one would show, but to our surprise the temperature rose to a balmy 16 degrees around 1p.m. and approximately 200 locals showed up to be greeted by 50 employers. This event resulted in 3% of seekers being placed in jobs.  The village agreed to provide lunch for all of the employers.  Collectively we thought the event to be a success!

Throughout the year I represented Riverdale at local and surrounding Chicagoland employment events.  The Riverdale Resource Center we

Riverdale’s Vehicle Sticker

I was commissioned to design the Village of Riverdale’s 2015 – 2016 vehicle sticker.  It was a honor to know that my design work was traveling with the residents of the Village of Riverdale for one year!

The sticker featured the demolition of the Riverdale (Hales and Hunter) and Arcadia Feeds Grain Elevators, it was a delight to the residence and businesses to have the eye sore, death trap removed.

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