Marisa Novara is the vice president of Community Impact at The Chicago Community Trust.
In this role, Marisa leads the team that oversees the development and implementation of the Trust’s strategic initiatives, its policy agenda, and grant making to reduce the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the Chicago region. She has more than 25 years of experience engaging with communities to create innovative programs that respond to their needs and drive policy change. Most recently, Marisa served as Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Housing. She led the passage of nine bills in four years, conducted the country’s first Racial Equity Impact Assessment on the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, and in 2021 invested a record $1 billion in affordable housing.
Before joining the City, Novara was vice president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, where she designed and managed the Cost of Segregation project, which concluded how decades-old racial and economic segregation patterns cost the Chicago region an estimated $4.4 billion in additional income each year. She also led the subsequent creation of the region’s first comprehensive guide to a more racially equitable future. Before that, Novara directed affordable rental and for-sale housing development for Lawndale Christian Development Corp. in the North Lawndale community, where she lived and worked for over a decade.
Novara has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in sociology, master’s degree from the University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice, certificate in affordable housing finance, development, and management from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and master’s in urban planning from the Instituto Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy.
Strategy AreaAddressing Critical Needs
Supporting essential service organizations that are addressing the most basic and immediate needs of individuals and families across our region.
Strategy AreaAdvocating for Policy Change
Supporting and advancing policy and advocacy efforts to effect systemic change.
Strategy AreaBuilding Collective Power
Addressing the wealth gap at the community level by connecting people, amplifying resident voice, and sparking action.
Strategy AreaCatalyzing Neighborhood Investment
Addressing the wealth gap at the neighborhood level through more investment in community-led revitalization.
Strategy AreaGrowing Household Wealth
Addressing the wealth gap at the household level by increasing incomes, building assets, and reducing debt.