Kelwin Harris is a city planner and public engagement professional who focuses on creating equitable communities, empowering people that have been historically excluded from connectivity, and dismantling inequality in Chicago’s property tax system. He is the current Director of Outreach and Engagement for the Cook County Assessor’s Office, which is responsible for valuing the county’s 1.8 million properties fairly. He has worked in various capacities at the city and regional levels and in grassroots neighborhood development.
Prior to the Assessor’s Office, Kelwin was Senior Outreach Planner for the The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) where he led public engagement for Chicago’s regional plan, ON TO 2050. Other projects include: North Lawndale Quality-of-Life Plan, South Suburban Economic Growth Initiative, Robbins Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and Industrial Area Plan, and Elevated Chicago. In addition, Kelwin led the organization’s Human and Community Development Committee, a multi-sector group of equity-focused public and private professionals and community leaders that guided the Chicago region’s inclusive growth and health equity strategies.
Prior to CMAP, Kelwin held numerous leadership roles on the South Side of Chicago with a social justice and outreach-focused church – St. Sabina. His work included community organizing and directing social services for the Auburn Gresham neighborhood along with programs to upskill residents, address food and housing insecurity, and combat violence. Kelwin also served as Executive Director of the church’s non-profit partner, The Beloved Community, where he led a college exposure program for high school students. Early in his career, Kelwin served the City of Chicago as Assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley and Acting Deputy Chief of Staff for Human Infrastructure where he led the transformation of Chicago’s notorious public housing stock.
Kelwin was a 2020 Impact Fellow with the Chicago Urban League and a 2018 Marshall Memorial Fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He was a member of the 5th cohort of the Center for American Progress’ US – Mexico Leaders Initiative in Mexico City. Kelwin also serves on the board of directors for Acero Schools and is the co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee with the Francis W. Parker School. He is a member of the American Planning Association (APA-IL) and serves on the Public Policy Committee of the Urban Land Institute (ULI Chicago).
Kelwin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in City & Regional Planning from Cornell University, a Master in Urban Planning Degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a Professional Certificate in Municipal Finance from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. He attended high school at The Francis W. Parker School in Chicago.
Kelwin lives on the South Side of Chicago in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood where he enjoys reading, exploring new cities, finding new trails to bike, and rediscovering soulful music.