Aurie Pennick, Field Foundation

TITLE:  Executive Director and Treasurer

FOCUS AREAS: Community welfare, culture, education, environment, health, urban & community affairs

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Aurie Pennick serves as the executive director and treasurer for the Field Foundation of Illinois. Pennick’s Civic Makers bio shares:

Executive director and treasurer of the Field Foundation of Illinois, Inc., Aurie Alma Pennick was born December 22, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois. Her parents, Aurie Watts and Burrell Baines migrated from Alabama and Mississippi, respectively. Pennick attended William G. Beale Elementary School and graduated from Englewood High School in 1965. At the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), then called the Chicago Circle Campus, Pennick became politically active. She worked for the election of Chicago’s first black female alderman, Anna Langford; she worked on voting registration as a civil rights volunteer in Jackson, Mississippi; she was a member of the Friends of the Panthers group and learned African American history from Dr. John Porter’s Englewood School of Human Dignity. By 1970, Pennick was working as a caseworker for the State of Illinois. In 1971, she earned her B.A. degree in the administration of criminal justice from UIC followed by her M.A. degree in the administration of criminal justice in 1981 and a law degree from John Marshall Law School in 1986.

Pennick headed the Chicago Abused Women Coalition, which opened Chicago’s first battered women’s shelter and Citizens Alert, a criminal justice awareness organization. In 1983, Mayor Harold Washington appointed Pennick to the Chicago Police Board. A participant in the Chicago Community Trust Minority Fellowship Program, Pennick joined the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as assistant director of Special Grants in 1984. In 1987, Pennick was managing attorney for the Chicago Transit Authority. From 1992 to 2002, she was president and CEO of the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities, the nation’s oldest fair housing organization. Pennick was chosen as an official U.S. delegate to the Habitat II Global Conference on Cities held in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1996. In 2002, she was appointed executive director and CEO of the Chicago-based Field Foundation, which provides support for community, civic and cultural organizations in the Chicago area.

Pennick is a founding board member of the Lake County Community Foundation; a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the Economic Club of Chicago and sits on the board of trustees of the Field Museum of Chicago.

Pennick is the recipient of the Harold Washington Award for Distinguished Public Service from the Cook County Bar Association. She also was an Aspen Fellow in 2002 and garnered the Chicago Commission on Human Relations Award in 2003.

The mother of two children, Pennick lives in Grayslake, Illinois.

She has been keynote speaker at various events, such as Chicago Women in Philanthropy luncheons. She also has a bio on the Seprtus Institute of Jewish Learning & Leadership website, which shares:

Aurie Pennick is executive director of the Field Foundation of Illinois. She has more than thirty-five years in the public and nonprofit sector. She has served as the president and CEO of the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities, the nation's oldest fair housing organization, and as the managing attorney administrator for the Chicago Transit Authority, Legal Services Branch. She served as the assistant director for special grants at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, where she designed and implemented the Fund for Neighborhood Initiatives, a multi-million dollar grant program for small and emerging community organizations.

In 1983, Ms. Pennick was appointed by the late Mayor Harold Washington to the Chicago Police Board. In 1995, she was awarded the John Marshall Law School Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award. In 1996, she was appointed by then HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros to the Official U.S. Delegation for the Habitat II Global Conference on Cities in Istanbul, Turkey. She has served on the boards of the Field Museum and Rush Hospital Medical Center.