President/CEO Lynn Osmond departs Chicago Architecture Center after 25 years

Lynn Osmond

The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) announced the departure of President & CEO Lynn Osmond after 25 years of service, during which she transformed the organization into a global leader promoting Chicago’s role as an architectural innovator and a singular destination for design savvy visitors from around the world. On April 29, Osmond departs the CAC to take the helm as president of Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism agency. 

The CAC experienced tremendous growth under Osmond’s leadership as she built it into the largest organization of its kind in the world and cemented Chicago’s stature as the “City of Architecture”. Osmond was selected to lead the CAC in 1996 when it was a $2.4-million-dollar organization with an audience of 150,000, and by 2019 created a $25 million organization with an audience of 700,000 patrons annually and one of the top cultural attractions in the city.   

Osmond’s accomplishments throughout her 25 years of service leaves the CAC prepared for continued success: 

  • The organization reinvented itself under Osmond’s leadership in 2018 as a global design destination where visitors could discover the city’s architectural legacy in the new 20,000 square-foot Center featuring the popular Chicago City Model with over 4,000 scale models of buildings in the city’s iconic downtown. The CAC exhibition galleries were recently awarded the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Design Award for Interior Architecture.
  • In 2010, CAC launched Osmond’s vision for Open House Chicago. Twelve years later, it is the most successful festival of its kind in North America and one of Chicago’s top annual city-wide events.
  • Osmond expanded the CAC’s top tour, the Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise Aboard Chicago’s First Lady, and strengthened the nonprofit’s partnership with the family-owned Chicago’s First Lady Cruises, the most luxurious fleet on the Chicago River. In 2021, the CAFC River Cruise was named No. 1 Boat tour in North America by USA Reader’s Choice Awards.  
  • During her tenure, Osmond expanded and strengthened the organization’s education programs. Overseeing the development of the nation’s first high school textbook, The Architecture Handbook, developed the K-8 curriculum Schoolyards to Skylines, the graphic novel No Small Plans and founded the Teen Fellows and Girls Build! education programs. 
  • Osmond led the expansion of the Center’s public programs from its new digitally enhanced Lecture Hall, enabling events to go virtual during the pandemic while providing compelling content and programming for CAC’s global audience. 
  • Osmond has made opportunity out of crisis throughout her career, having led the CAC during 9/11, the 2008 economic crisis and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the tough times her leadership kept the organization moving forward and ensured its success.  

As part of the transition CAC’s COO Juanna Blackwell will serve as interim leader while the Board of Trustees conducts a national search for the next president.