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JULY 20: 7:30pm - Chicago and Cook County: Today and Moving Forward


  • Alma Anaya - Cook County Commissioner of the 7th District

  • Allison Arwady - Acting Commissioner Chicago Department of Public Health

  • Judith Helfand - Director/Producer, COOKED: Survival by Zip Code

  • Dr. Terry Mason - Chief Operating Officer, Cook County Department of Public Health

  • Ranjani Prabhakar - Deputy Policy Director - Climate Change, City of Chicago


  • Alden Loury - Senior Editor: Race, Class & Communities, WBEZ

Alden Loury - Senior Editor: Race, Class and Communities, WBEZ

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In July 2018, Alden joined WBEZ as senior editor of the race, class and communities desk, which provides enterprise reporting on those topics as well as housing, immigration and employment.

Previously, Alden served as the director of research and evaluation for the Metropolitan Planning Council for two years where he examined and wrote about population loss, demographic shifts, job trends and racial segregation.

Prior to joining MPC, Alden served as an investigator and later as a policy analyst for the Better Government Association. In more than four years at the BGA, Alden documented abuses with legislative scholarships, campaign finance expenditures and ward remapping and later analyzed data and lobbied for reforms to increase government transparency, efficiency and accountability.

Prior to joining the BGA, Alden spent 12 years at The Chicago Reporter, initially as a reporter, then senior editor and finally as publisher. He authored, edited or provided research for more than 50 investigative projects examining the impact of race and class in drug sentencing, jury verdicts, jury selection, lottery ticket sales, fatal police shootings and subprime mortgage lending, among others.

Alden has discussed his work on ABC7, CBS2, Chicago Public Radio, CNN, FOX32, NBC5, WGN-TV, and WTTW Chicago Tonight. His research has appeared in The Chicago Defender, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, Forbes, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Alden is a Chicago native who grew up in the LeClaire Courts public housing development and later the Auburn Gresham community on the city’s south side. He is married with three daughters.

Allison Arwady - Acting Commissioner Chicago Department of Public Health

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Dr. Allison Arwady, MD, MPH, is the acting commissioner at the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). She has been at CDPH for four years in the role of chief medical officer, overseeing the disease control, environmental health, emergency preparedness, and behavioral health divisions. Prior to CDPH, she worked for the CDC, with a focus on disease outbreak response including Ebola, and at the Illinois Department of Public Health. She completed medical school and clinical training at Yale University, and is a board-certified internal medicine physician and pediatrician. She continues to see primary care patients weekly and is particularly interested in using data to promote health equity in Chicago.

Alma Anaya - Cook County Commissioner of the 7th District

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Alma Anaya is the Cook County Commissioner of the 7th District, serving the Southwest Side of Chicago. Alma became the only Latina (the first in over 25 years), and the youngest woman to ever serve on the Cook County Board of Commissioners when she took office. Alma is also one of the few formerly undocumented immigrants to hold office in the country. 

Alma was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and arrived to the United States at the age of 6. She is the oldest of 4 and was raised by a single mother on the Southside of Chicago. Alma holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

Prior to taking office, Alma had seven years of experience working on the Cook County Board. She has worked on County and internal budgets, policy initiatives, and has collaborated with community stakeholder to provide resources to the constituents of the 7th District.

Alma is constantly active in her community. She has served on the Local School Councils (LSC) and with non-for-profit organizations like Mujeres Latinas en Acción (MLEA) where she is both a MLEA Board member and Co-Chair of the Young Professional Advisory Council. Alma was also selected as a Racial Equity Fellow in the inaugural cohort of Chicago United for Equity and is an Edgar Fellows alumni through the Institute of Government & Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Terry Mason - Chief Operating Officer, Cook County Department of Public Health

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Dr. Mason was appointed the Chief Operating Officer of the Cook County Department of Public Health by the Honorable Toni Preckwinkle, President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, in 2013 after serving more than three years as the Chief Medical Officer and six months as interim Chief Executive Officer for the Cook County Health and Hospitals System.

The Cook County Department of Public Health is a state‐certified local public health department serving suburban Cook County including 125 local municipalities, covering a 700 square mile area, with a large urban population of approximately 2.3 million residents. As the COO, Dr. Mason provides leadership, fiscal responsibility, and performance based accountability in management. He is responsible for public health programs and services for one of the nation’s largest metropolitan health departments, ranging from disease prevention, control and epidemiology; health statistics; health promotion; STD/HIV screening; emergency preparedness; and environmental licensing, inspections and complaints.

Before joining the Cook County Health and Hospitals System and the Cook County Department of Public Health, he served as the Commissioner of Chicago Department of Public Health. Dr. Mason received his BS in Biology from Loyola University and his MD from Abraham Lincoln School of Medicine at the University of Illinois Chicago. He devoted 25 years of his life in private practice as a board certified Urologist. During that period, his focus was on male erectile dysfunction and prostate cancer. He is a nationally recognized health educator and inspirational speaker who champions holistic approaches to health management.

It is Dr. Mason’s continued vision to transform healthcare delivery through the integration of public health and public medicine to create a population based strategy to manage chronic disease. He is a member of many professional organizations and serves on multiple boards. Dr. Mason is a member of the Cook County Physicians Association and was featured in the 2010 film “Forks over Knives” and received a Telly Award for the video, “Not By Myself,” featuring Marylyn Macoo and Billy Davis Jr. Dr. Mason has delivered countless presentations and conducted numerous interviews on a range of public health matters and continues to share his holistic approach to health on his popular radio show on WVON 1690 AM call in show, “The Doctor in the House” for more than 21 years.

Ranjani Prabhakar - Deputy Policy Director - Climate Change, City of Chicago

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Ranjani Prabhakar is a city planner, engineer, and policy wonk in the sustainability field. Currently, she is the Deputy Policy Director of Climate Change for the Office of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, where she manages renewable energy and sustainability initiatives for the City. Prior to this role, Ranjani was a transportation planner working on traffic operations, transit planning and statistical projects. She has past experience in economic and community development, grantmaking, and affordable housing. She received her Masters in City Planning and Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and her Bachelors in History, Political Science and German Studies from Emory University.