Chicago Defender: Summary: MWRD Vice President Barbara McGowan, MWRD President Kari K. Steele, and MWRD Commissioner Chakena D. Perry commemorate Commissioner Perry’s first Board meeting on January 6, 2021.
A knowledgeable, experienced, and talented water professional serving the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) has been appointed by Gov. JB Pritzker to serve as an MWRD commissioner.
Chakena D. Perry was appointed to fill the seat of Debra Shore, who now leads U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5. Since January 2019, Commissioner Perry served as an aide to MWRD Commissioner Josina Morita. The Board of Commissioners is responsible for providing financial oversight of the MWRD and advancing policy and procedures that help the MWRD’s staff of nearly 1,750 meet its mission in protecting the regional water environment. Commissioner Perry is a resident of Justice, IL and at the age of 28, is the youngest Board member. She said she is prepared to take on this new position of leadership.
“Over the past three years, I’ve worked every day to advance green infrastructure, better land use management, and clean energy initiatives at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and I’m honored that I will be continuing that work as a commissioner,” said Chakena D. Perry. “As a resident of the south suburbs, I’m proud to stand up for my community and all Cook County residents as we safeguard their health and safety and our waterways.”
MWRD Vice President Barbara McGowan welcomed the newest Commissioner on her first day by inviting her to participate in a meeting to plan for Black History Month and Juneteenth celebrations.
“It’s very helpful that Chakena is already acclimated to the District and is aware of the exceptional programming we have to commemorate special occasions,” said Vice President McGowan. “I appreciate her willingness to jump right into the fray of activities we have underway.”
Commissioner Perry earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Connecticut College and is currently studying at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago to earn a Master of Arts in Public Policy.
Before joining the MWRD, Commissioner Perry held an array of professional experiences, including deputy press secretary for the Chicago Public Schools. Her passion for civic engagement and voting rights advocacy previously led her to serve as president of Chicago Votes Action Fund and chairwoman of the Cook County Young Democrats. Additionally, she has received many honors, including the Posse Foundation’s Ainslie Alumni Achievement Award and the WE Will “Young Woman of the Year.” She was recognized as a Chicago Scholars “35 under 35” Honoree and a Quad City Urban League’s Women’s Empowerment Honoree.
Perry is excited to continue exploring her love of environmental justice, civic engagement, and economic development in this new capacity. She resides with her husband and their son.