Kalindi Parikh grew up near the shores of Lake Erie at a time when “nobody wanted to swim at our beaches, but we always trusted that the Lake would be able to provide clean drinking water for us.” This sense of the challenges and opportunities that massive natural water resources, like the Great Lakes, present for the people who depend on them stayed with Kalindi as she pursued degrees in City and Regional Planning from Ohio State University, and a Master’s of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Fast forward to 2020. When COVID-19 hit, downtowns across the globe emptied almost overnight. Here in Chicago’s Loop, planning for the recovery of this essential central business district got a boost from an organization that has been leading collaborative, creative conversations about the Loop’s future for more than 15 years: the Chicago Loop Alliance. As the CLA’s Director of Planning, Kalindi coordinated public engagement strategies with a diverse set of stakeholders and community partners, and developed and published monthly COVID recovery reports to help inform economic development strategies. Her work–managing the creation and implementation of urban plans and economic studies for the Loop and overseeing the placemaking initiatives that have helped spur creative, social engagement in spaces like the Gateway and the pedway—helped reveal and revitalize hidden assets.
Kalindi’s combination of skills—planner, researcher, facilitator and communicator—will serve her well in her new role as Current’s Program Builder, where she will lead the development of new initiatives, including the Inclusive Blue Economy strategy and Blue EDU. “The common thread tying together my diverse set of work experiences is my unwavering commitment towards promoting equity and a high standard of living for all people,” Kalindi says. “I’m thrilled to begin working at Current and bring my passion for environmental stewardship to work every day. It’s time to bring the phrase ‘Inclusive Blue Economy’ into everyone’s vocabulary, and I’m honored to participate in the conversation and help push the region to the forefront of innovation and excellence.”
Kalindi brings her passion for innovation and inclusion to her volunteer life as well, leading Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work for the American Planning Association Illinois, serving as the Arts Chair for Buena Park Neighbors, and as an inaugural Board Member for Heal Chicago.
Please join us in welcoming the newest member of Team Current!