Photo courtesy of Raul Juarez, Raul Juarez Projects
Chakena D. Perry ’16 fights for the right to vote before she was old enough to vote. Now she will fight as the newly appointed commissioner on the board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) to protect the health and safety of citizens and the waterways in the greater Chicago area.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker appointed Perry in early January, stating that “her commitment to justice, environmental justice, and the fight against climate change will help empower communities across Chicago and have a positive impact on Cook County as a whole.” .
Pritzker added that he is “glad that the MWRD Board of Directors can count on Chakena’s professional expertise and lived experience as a young, dynamic, black woman as they work for Cook County’s diverse communities.”
At 28, Perry, who previously worked as assistant to MWRD commissioner Josina Morita, is the youngest member of the board.
“I have worked every day for the past three years in the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District advancing green infrastructure, better land use management and clean energy initiatives, and I am honored to continue this work as Commissioner,” Perry said.
“As a resident of the southern suburbs, I take pride in standing up for my community and all of Cook County’s residents while we protect their health and safety and our waterways,” added Perry.
MWRD President Kari K. Steele welcomed Perry’s appointment and focused on her experience and leadership skills.
“We welcome Chakena D. Perry to the MWRD Board of Commissioners and thank Governor Pritzker for the appointment of a qualified and deserved candidate whose knowledge of the MWRD is in-depth,” said Steele. “As we move into a challenging new year amid a pandemic, it is encouraging to have a leader we can count on to help protect our aquatic environment.”
Perry earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from Connecticut College and is currently completing a Masters of Arts in public policy from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.
Prior to joining MWRD, Perry held a number of professional positions including assistant secretary for the Chicago Public Schools. Her passion for civic engagement and advocacy for the right to vote led her previously as President of the Chicago Votes Action Fund and Chair of the Cook County Young Democrats. She has also received many honors, including the Ainslie Alumni Achievement Award from the Posse Foundation and the WE Will “Young Woman of the Year”. She was also recognized as a Chicago Scholars “35 under 35” award winner and a Quad City Urban League women’s empowerment awardee.