Community Relations Consultant, Chicago TREND
Michelle E.L. Merritt is an experienced community and economic development professional with over 15 years of experience. She has proudly focused her career on amplifying stakeholder engagement, specifically participation of community residents in the development process. Since joining the Chicago TREND team, Michelle’s primary role encompasses serving as a relationship manager for the Chicago Prize 2020 teams. In this capacity she works closely with all of the teams to provide technical assistance, strategic planning support and accessing resources to advance project implementation.
Prior to joining the TREND team, Ms. Merritt co-developed the community programming at Boxville, an award-winning initiative in Bronzeville focused on creating a hyper-local ecosystem of micro-businesses, activated to disrupt the historical disinvestment of a distressed commercial corridor. She led the outreach and engagement efforts for small and micro-business entrepreneurs, curated community events and developed the marketing and social media promotion plans.
In 2015, Michelle began working as an independent consultant providing strategic planning and project management services, including co-lead facilitator for the community planning and public engagement process for the Master Land Use and Quality of Life/Revitalization Plan for Roosevelt Square, a mixed-income community.
From 2006-2015, Michelle was Vice President of Community Relations for a prominent Chicago-based real estate developer. Her work at the firm included, leading the community engagement process for the Master Planning of ABLA Homes (Roosevelt Square) and the Redevelopment of Lathrop Homes. In addition, she managed Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Women Business Enterprise (WBE) contract compliance to ensure local contracting and hiring goals were being met by the professional services and general contracting teams.
Michelle is experienced in working in complex, cross-functional, multi-disciplinary environments. With a unique talent for collaborating and engaging diverse communities and neighborhood stakeholders. Michelle is known for her patience under pressure.
Michelle received her Master of Arts Management in Entrepreneurship and Arts Management from Columbia College and her Bachelor of Arts in History from Hampton University in Virginia.