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Tom Kotarac

Title: Deputy Executive Director, Policy & Programming, CMAP
NACTO Title: Speaker, Designing Cities Conference
Tom Kotarac

Tom Kotarac joined the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) in 2015 as deputy executive director of policy and programming.   At CMAP, he directs overall agency strategy and setting of research agendas for CMAP’s policy focus areas, including transportation, land use, economic development, housing, tax policy, and governance.  Tom also provides oversight on the annual programming of $250 million in federal transportation funds in the Chicago region that flow through CMAP.

CMAP developed an award-winning comprehensive plan, GO TO 2040, which was created to address the fundamental challenges — including land use and transportation — that shape residents’ daily lives.  CMAP is now developing the successor to that comprehensive plan, ON TO 2050, which will be completed by the fall of 2018.  Tom brings a deep understanding of these issues and how to achieve progress on them at the state and federal levels gained during his 13-year tenure working in the Illinois congressional delegation.  He was most recently senior policy advisor and projects director for U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), positions in which he served for eight years.  Before that, he served five years as senior legislative assistant to U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).

In Washington, D.C., Tom was responsible for drafting legislation and building bipartisan coalitions across government, labor, and advocacy groups to gain passage of key initiatives, particularly in the areas of transportation, appropriations, housing, water, and economic development. His efforts helped the Illinois delegation include provisions important to our region in Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), the federal transportation authorization bill passed in 2012.  His work was also instrumental in passing legislation critical to improving nationwide railway infrastructure and service, as well as national water resources, including the Illinois Waterway system. Tom also served as principal liaison for the Senator and Congressman to members of the Illinois congressional delegation, Illinois General Assembly, mayors, and other local elected officials. Additionally, he helped to manage and develop the senator’s 35-person legislative staff.

Tom is a proud native of Chicago’s South Side.