Calumet Collaborative Welcomes New Team Member
In early April, the Collaborative welcomed a new staff member to the team: Ashley Hodges. Ashley is the Program Manager for the Collaborative, providing leadership and support for initiatives, projects, programs, and communications. She is a native of the suburbs of Chicago who received her BS in Commerce at DePaul University, specializing in Marketing and minoring in Spanish. After graduating, Ashley worked in both advertising sales and the more agency-oriented side of advertising, specializing in digital media. Her desire to study sustainable development was sparked during her time spent at the agency doing media strategy and media buying, where she focused heavily on communication. Through this, Ashley realized that she wanted to be able to communicate to the broader public the importance of sustainable development, a topic she’d always been passionate about. One of the most exciting things about sustainable development for Ashley is that it not only applies to everyone, but affects everyone in a positive way, bringing opportunities to people while helping to save the planet as well. She believes in putting sustainable thinking at the center of business strategies to make a difference in this world.
Ashley began her journey with a global approach to sustainable development by moving to Madrid to obtain her Master’s degree in Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility at EOI Business School. In addition to this, she interned at the United Nations Climate Change’s Communications and Outreach Programme in Bonn, Germany. As program manager with the Calumet Collaborative, Ashley aims to further explore the possibilities for sustainable development in the Calumet region.
One thing that has surprised Ashley since starting her position at the Collaborative is the sheer amount of all the Calumet’s natural assets. As she loves hiking and going to the beach, Ashley particularly enjoys the Miller Woods-Beach trail which combines both of these recreational passions. In contrast to this, Ashley was not at all surprised by the enthusiasm and passion demonstrated by people who live and work in the Calumet region, along with their incredible dedication to progress; it’s clear that they are passionate about where they live and what they do.
Sustainable development is a key piece in achieving a thriving Calumet region. Ashley sees a great deal of opportunity and potential in the Calumet region due to the people who call the Calumet region home, its natural assets, and fascinating history. In the near future, Ashley hopes to see a number of positive changes for the region and its residents: the region is resilient, and industry is transforming to be more innovative. Ashley is committed to working with businesses and industries to put sustainable thinking at their core. There are new approaches to be implemented, and the potential role of technology in furthering the region is exciting to her. Finally, the goal is to connect residents and visitors to the natural, recreational and economic resources that make the region a great place to live, work, and play. Ashley is ready for the challenge and is looking forward to doing her part in creating a thriving Calumet region.
My Region: Kristi DeLaurentiis
Kristi DeLaurentiis is the executive director of South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, an intergovernmental agency that provides assistance and services to 45 municipalities in Cook and Will counties.
Kristi has held the position since 2016. Her previous experience includes president of KDL Consulting, Metro Strategies director of government affairs and community development, and Metropolitan Planning Council’s government relations director.
She is a long-time Lansing, Ill. resident and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Governors State University.
What do you love about the Calumet region?
Its diversity, its people, the culture, the range and breadth of its assets, the inclusiveness of the communities and our collective interest in transformative success.
What is your vision for the future of this region?
That we’re successful on multiple initiatives that contribute to this region’s transformation. That our regional prosperity increases; we experience more sustainable development; our natural areas, ecosystems, recreational opportunities, and other inherent assets are more highly valued. That we build upon on our existing assets for an even more vibrant future.
How is the Calumet region starting to work towards that vision today?
There’s a great sense of purpose. Stakeholders from all sectors recognize we need to work collaboratively in order to take on the challenges we face in the Calumet region. I feel very optimistic that we’re starting to, collectively, have an impact. We’re already seeing a groundswell of activity that will have positive effects today, tomorrow and into the future. We know people are proud of where they live and work and they are showing their commitment to making our region stronger.