After progressing in a series of leadership roles in City government, Eleanor Esser Gorski was appointed Executive Director of the Cook County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA) in August 2021. Gorski brings more than 25 years of planning, design and economic development experience to the CCLBA as it embarks on plans to expand its inventory to create more affordable housing and economic opportunity partnerships within Cook County. The Cook County Land Bank works to efficiently return vacant properties to productive use in underserved communities throughout the county by partnering with community developers, small business owners and prospective homebuyers. It is the largest land bank by geography in the country, with a current inventory of more than 1,700 properties.
Before leading the CCLBA, Gorski served as Director of Design and Planning for the University of Illinois at Chicago. From 2019 to 2020, Gorski led the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) as First Deputy Commissioner and Acting Commissioner. Prior to this role, Gorski led the Bureau of Planning and Design for DPD, leading work on the City’s Industrial Corridor Modernization Initiative and the Fulton Market Innovation District Plan, creating the fastest-growing commercial sector in the city. Gorski has held many other leadership roles within the City, including director of the Landmarks Commission for five years. Projects she has managed include the five-year renovation of Wrigley Field, the planning for the Obama Presidential Center, the renovation of most of the early skyscrapers in the Loop as well as the preservation of the Carson Pirie Scott State Street store (now Target).
A hallmark of Gorski’s work is the way it centers equity and community, integrating design, planning and historic preservation. Notable projects include the creation of a community review process for the Chicago Plan Commission and numerous design guidelines for city landmark districts and neighborhoods. Her work in financial incentive legislation provided groundbreaking assistance for small businesses in communities of need through the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund and helped to preserve landmarks with the Class L tax incentive.
Gorski is a licensed architect with degrees in architecture, art history and history. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Rome, where she studied the integration of new construction and old in Rome, Berlin and Amsterdam. She is also a fellow of the University of Chicago Civic Leadership Academy. Gorski sits on the Local Advisory Board of LISC Chicago, the alumni board of the University of Illinois School of Architecture and the Board of the Illinois Medical District. Most important, she is a proud mom to two teenage boys and lives in the City of Chicago.