Meg Kelly

Space to Grow Director
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About Meg

Hometown: Chicago

Education: BA in Urban and Environmental Affairs from Marquette University | Masters of Urban Planning (MUP) from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Hobbies: I spend a lot of time with my family. I have 10 nieces and nephews, and my immediate family is nearly 20 people, so we have a lot of birthdays and milestones to celebrate. I also have friends all over the country and the world, and I love to travel to see them. I start to get anxious at about the six-week mark if I’ve not been on an airplane, or at least out of the state.

Who are you?

I’m the Space to Grow Project Director here at Healthy Schools Campaign. My job is to implement Space to Grow, a partnership with Openlands to transform Chicago’s schoolyards. Our goal is not only to support wellness initiatives by creating space at schools for physical education and outdoor activity, but also to incorporate special features and gardens (known to some as “green infrastructure”) that help manage stormwater issues, such as reducing pollution and neighborhood flooding issues.

What makes your job great?

This is the first time in my career that I get to marry all of my background (urban planning and sensitive resource protection), plus my skills (project management), plus what I’m really passionate about (health, wellness and our environment). Planning is really important, but I really like the implementation side because that is where the actual difference is made. Space to Grow is a great way to link urban planning and green infrastructure initiatives to public health, and also to stormwater management. Being able to do that from within an organization like HSC is really important, because it’s taking a very holistic and comprehensive approach to the issues.

When did you come to HSC?

August 2014. Before joining HSC, I worked on a variety of land and water conservation projects all over the country. I’ve managed public engagement initiatives, land acquisition projects, sensitive resource plans, sustainable building development (including a resort renovation). This is the first time I get to sort of manage all of those things at once, and I’m very excited.

Why did you join HSC?

Being housed inside of an organization whose main mission is health-related is amazing, and allows me to work on issues that I’ve previously only been passionate about or interested in. You’re just not going to get that anywhere else. It’s really unique and innovative.

Where does your motivation come from?

From those 10 nieces and nephews. They are full of energy and wit, and they’re pretty much my favorite people in the world. They keep me young, informed and on my toes. Hopefully, the things I work on will help keep their futures bright.

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