Related Midwest has hired Kiera Ellis as director of public affairs. In this position, Ellis will collaborate with executives, community members and the media to help lead and support Related Midwest’s work in various neighborhoods. She will serve as a key liaison to civic, business advocacy and trade groups, as well as nonprofits and local community organizations.
“We are thrilled to welcome Kiera to our team as a partner in helping us not only to continue and enhance our important work in our local communities, but also to ensure we collaborate even more closely with community members, businesses and elected officials as we endeavor to strengthen Chicago’s neighborhoods with key investments in housing and public infrastructure,” said Frank Monterisi, chief operating officer of Related Midwest. “Kiera’s unique expertise and experience make her an ideal fit for our organization and the work we are undertaking with some of Chicago’s most transformative developments.”
For more than 30 years, Related Midwest has worked to strengthen communities through local hiring initiatives, job training programs and minority- and women-owned business investment initiatives and has been a leader in both affordable housing production and preservation. Over the last 10 years, Related Midwest has awarded more than $250 million in contracts to women- and minority-owned businesses and has developed, acquired and preserved more than 10,000 affordable residences, never converting an affordable unit to market rate. Ellis will work closely with Related Midwest’s executives and government officials to support and grow these initiatives in partnership with the local community while also working to implement innovative affordable housing solutions.
Ellis has more than eight years of experience in public affairs working on high-profile issues and initiatives. She previously served as press secretary for U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth and as deputy press secretary for former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In her role as deputy press secretary, she managed matters such as the response to water quality issues following the Flint water crisis, as well as targeted media relations around police accountability in Chicago. She also brings relevant experience from the Chicago Park District and Chicago Architecture Center.
“It is exciting to be part of an evolving city landscape within an organization that is dedicated to responsible development, invests in small and minority businesses, and uplifts and collaborates with communities where they work, live and play,” said Ellis. “I look forward to working closely with my colleagues to deliver more mixed-income and affordable housing, like the projects at Lathrop, Taylor Street Apartments and The 78, which will set the standard for urban living throughout the country.”
Ellis is passionate about improving the lives of others and supporting causes she believes in. As part of the iMentor program, she helps a Chicago Public Schools high school student navigate the path to postsecondary education as a future first-generation college student. She is a member of the metropolitan boards of the Chicago Urban League and the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago.