A Message from CNT Leadership

Dear CNT Friends,

In 2021, CNT’s mission and principles, rooted in equity, are not only more important but more needed than ever. As climate change continues to plague this planet, it collides with increasing costs of living, housing shortages, technology gaps, and a continuing pandemic. The disparities felt in Black and Brown communities, which are historically under resourced, only continue to grow.

In response, CNT’s focused blend of analytics, innovative solutions, and authentic and trust-building community engagement has characterized our work in 2021 and will propel us to even greater impact in 2022. Some of the highlights of our recent work are described in this 2021 annual report.

Photo grid of CNT's accomplishments in 2021

Accomplishments in 2021: Environmental Justice and Climate Justice

Calculating the Benefits and Value of Green Infrastructure

Chciago Farm Works

Chicago Farm Works

Nature-based solutions are foundational to community climate resilience. CNT’s Green Values Stormwater Management Calculator supplies homeowners, planners, landscape architects, and municipal staff with an easy-to-use tool to quantify their impacts. First launched in 2006, the calculator was completely redesigned in 2021 for use in creating solutions to prevent flooding at many scales, from single buildings to community-wide efforts. The calculator now includes customizable templates for eight types of sites—including urban farming, community gardens, and schoolyards—in support of CNT's USDA-funded work with Greenprint Partners. The Green Values Calculator also incorporates CNT’s research findings that distributed green stormwater infrastructure increases nearby home values.

Water Equity and Affordability

Water and wastewater service bills have grown at fast rate, placing a large burden on low- and fixed-income households. River Network sought a resource to arm its network of advocates with the information necessary to advocate for affordable and equitable outcomes at the local and state level, and asked CNT for our assistance. In 2021, in partnership with ib Environmental and Rudd Resources, CNT developed an Equitable Water Infrastructure Toolkit. The tool provides an overview on several topics related to water infrastructure investment, utility governance, and decision-making and reviews opportunities on how advocates can work with utilities and infrastructure funding streams to improve water affordability. CNT and ib Environmental also led a series of training sessions for River Network advocates to coach them on how to use the toolkit to advocate for change.

Lead Service Line Replacement

Hazel Crest water supply

There is no safe level of lead in drinking water. In the aftermath of the Flint public health and water contamination crisis, cities across the country have been grappling with the prevalence of lead service lines throughout their drinking water systems. In 2021, CNT worked in partnership with IBM and BlueConduit to develop water service line inventories for two Chicago suburban communities, the villages of Hazel Crest and Flossmoor, using predictive analytics. A complementary toolkit meant to guide communities interested in using predictive analytics to develop a service line inventory (available for download here) won Environmental Policy and Innovation Center’s (EPIC) 2021 Water Data Prize – Wildcard Stellar Entry.

Cover photo of a complementary toolkit meant to guide communities interested in using predictive analytics to develop a service line inventory

Screenshot of Hazel Crest Lead Service Line Probability interactive map

Support for Environmental Justice Groups

In 2021, CNT built and expanded partnerships with community partners with an understanding that the key to implementing a resilient future is centering the communities most impacted by environmental burdens. We kicked off a number of initiatives on the topics of climate vulnerability, flooding, drinking water, air quality, and truck traffic, and expect these to start to bear fruit in 2022. Two organizations central to this work were the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) and Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF), and we look forward to continuing to work closely with them and others.

LVEJO logo
SETF logo

Accomplishments in 2021: Transportation

Transportation Equity Network

Launched in 2020, the Transportation Equity Network (TEN) plays an integral role in helping transportation agencies embed racial equity and mobility justice into transportation decisions and investments. In 2021, the Chicago Department of Transportation partnered with TEN to develop the agency’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan for Transportation. TEN successfully challenged CDOT to address long-standing transportation and racial equity issues at the neighborhood and city-wide level and will continue to serve as an accountability partner for the Plan’s implementation. TEN also advised the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways on the involvement of community groups and equity considerations in their county-wide transit and bike plans.

Cover photo for CDOT's 2021-2025 Strategic Plan for Transportation

Public Transportation’s Impact on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Cover graphic for the TRCP report

In 2021, CNT released An Update on Public Transportation's Impacts on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, sponsored by the Transit Cooperative Research Program of the National Academies. The first project in many years to document the national impacts of public transit on greenhouse gas emissions, CNT found that public transit is a climate solution that saved 63 million metric tons of CO2e in the U.S. in 2018, showing the importance of investing in quality transit that supports the needs of riders and communities. While transit vehicles do create some emissions themselves (12 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent), these emissions are massively outweighed by the savings (75 million metric tons) that transit creates by reducing driving and creating more sustainable built environments. CNT’s research also evaluated the fuel savings associated with public transit, a topic that has generated significant interest with rising gasoline prices. In addition to the technical report, the project website includes a spreadsheet of transit climate benefit scenarios by area, as well as factsheets and PowerPoint slides. A webinar on the project is available as a recording online featuring CNT staff member Jen McGraw presenting the report’s findings.


Ensuring Equitable Public Transit, Post-Pandemic

The urgency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced many public transit agencies to make innovative changes to their operations, like service restructuring or free fare programs – and some of these changes will be sticking around for the long term. In 2021, CNT partnered with the American Public Transportation Association and the Urban Institute to publish a report, On the Horizon: Planning for Post-Pandemic Travel, that identifies future trends and offers recommendations for transit agencies on how to institutionalize best practices from the COVID-19 period and prioritize social equity.

Cover photo for the publication On the Horizon: Planning for Post-Pandemic Travel


Cover photo for the publication Equity in Practice: A guidebook for transit agencies

Public transit equity was also the focus of a joint report published in 2021 by TransitCenter and CNT. Equity in Practice: A guidebook for transit agencies details CNT’s research into how the public transit industry defines, operationalizes, and evaluates equity. We assessed industry practices that forefront equity in leadership and strategy, community engagement, and evaluation. The report covers a range of high-level actions items for transit agencies to implement, which CNT and TransitCenter are now putting into practice by working directly with two transit agencies, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Los Angeles Metro (LA Metro), to advance their equity goals.

Accomplishments in 2021: Community Development

Providing Houston's Communities with Access to
Neighborhood Data

Cover graphic for the TRCP report

CNT supported Houston Complete Communities, an initiative by the City of Houston to bridge the gap between equity and opportunity in historically under-resourced neighborhoods, by creating an app to democratize data access to residents.

Developed in 2021, the Data Discovery Portal employs a simple, convenient design to make historic and current neighborhood-level data readily available to residents. The portal includes data on population and demographics, economy and jobs, government and service centers, transit access and quality, voting locations, childcare, food pantries, financial counseling, and other services. The portal also compares how equitably these services and resources are distributed in each neighborhood compared to the city as a whole, empowering residents to advocate for resources in their community.

Cover photo for the publication On the Horizon: Planning for Post-Pandemic Travel

Organization Updates

New Staff and Board of Directors Members

CNT welcomed several new staff and Board members to the organization in 2021. To support our outreach and communications efforts, Leslé Honoré joined CNT as Managing Director and Strategy of Communications, and Brandon Evans took on the role of Outreach and Engagement Associate. New program staff included Paulina Vaca, Project Associate, and Sajani Neeraja, who will serve as Project Manager of Water and Climate Resilience. New members bringing expertise to CNT’s Board of Directors in 2021 include Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri & Kansas, and Chris Wheat, Executive Director for the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and State at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Celebrating Jacky Grimshaw’s Leadership and Achievements

We are thrilled to congratulate Jacky Grimshaw on receiving three well-deserved awards in 2021. Jacky, who joined CNT in 1992 and serves as Vice President of Government Affairs, was the recipient of the Active Transportation Alliance’s Visionary Leadership Award. This award marked the occasion of the Alliance’s 35th anniversary and celebrated local leaders and their extraordinary efforts to advance active transportation in the Chicago region. Jacky was also the recipient of the Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership in Transportation, a national award in recognition of Jacky’s work to champion the interests and concerns of those not usually at the decision table, and was recognized in a resolution by the Illinois House of Representatives for her many achievements in the transportation equity field. We are proud to count Jacky as one of our own!


An overview of our finances in 2021 are below. You may also view CNT's 2021 Audit here.











Looking forward to 2022

With these successes in 2021, we are now poised for even greater impact in 2022 – especially in two areas:

First, we welcome the opportunity to use our unique analytical abilities to help community groups advance their priorities. As our mission makes clear, supporting community-based organizations to achieve their goals is one of our top priorities. CNT contributes by helping to demonstrate the disparities that are so clear in our cities, in terms of water affordability, air quality, transportation access, and flooding and other climate impacts. We seek to arm community groups with the information they need, build their capacity to do their own analysis, and position them to influence government and business decisions.

Second, we welcome the opportunity to put our ideas into practice. The American Rescue Plan Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and most recently the Inflation Reduction Act have directed unprecedented amounts of funding to transportation infrastructure, water systems, and affordable housing. Our top priority is directing this to projects that arose from community-led plans and represent the priorities of marginalized communities. In 2022, we see numerous opportunities to apply this to plans that CNT ourselves helped to develop: advancing affordable housing that is climate resilient, installing green stormwater infrastructure that maximizes community benefits, and building thriving and inclusive communities surrounding transit.

Supporters & Funders

Thanks to all of the funders and supporters who worked with us in 2021! We were generously funded by the following organizations and individuals:

Significant Funders, Clients, and Sponsors ($5,000+)

  • American Public Transportation Association
  • Anonymous
  • Barr Foundation
  • Chicago Community Trust
  • Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
  • Chicago Transit Authority
  • City of Aurora, IL
  • City of Bloomington, IN
  • City of Chicago, IL
  • City of Detroit, MI
  • City of Evanston, IL
  • Coalition to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children
  • Colorado Energy Office
  • Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley
  • Cook County, IL
  • Crown Family Philanthropies
  • C.S. Mott Foundation
  • Elevated Chicago
  • Energy Foundation
  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • Evanston Community Foundation
  • Fund for Our Economic Future
  • Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities
  • Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation
  • Great Lakes Protection Fund
  • Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange
  • Illinois Department of Transportation
  • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Joyce Foundation
  • Kresge Foundation
  • LDR Partners
  • McDougal Family Foundation
  • Metropolitan Transportation Commission
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • National Science Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation
  • Prince Charitable Trust
  • River Network
  • Robert R. McCormick Foundation
  • Sally Mead Hands Foundation
  • TCF Foundation
  • Thanksgiving Fund
  • Town of Carrboro, NC
  • TransitCenter
  • Transportation Research Board
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Verizon
  • Village of Oak Park, IL
  • Walder Foundation
  • Washtenaw County, MI
  • Wend II, Inc

Individual, Family, and Corporate Donors ($500+)

  • Lucy and Peter Ascoli
  • Jonathan Boyer and Judith Stockdale
  • Brian Chang
  • Kathryn Devine and Jon Trowbridge
  • Dale and Ruth Fast
  • Sharon Feigon and Steve Bialer
  • Jan Feldman
  • Bernard J. Ford
  • Fuzzy Math
  • Michelle Gittler
  • Danisha Hall
  • Anne Hallett
  • Emily Harris and Jim Ridker
  • Andrew Irwin
  • John Jasper
  • Jocarno Fund
  • Nancy Juda and Jens Brasch
  • Mark and Christine Ladd
  • Peter Laundy and Shirley Dugdale
  • Jeremy Liu
  • Katie Maher
  • James Mann
  • Paul Marcus and Kitty Juda
  • Clark and Sari Maxfield
  • Kathrine Morsbach
  • Mary O’Connell
  • Margaret H. O’Dell and Alexander E. Sharp
  • Ellen Partridge and Ed Tanzman
  • Jeanne Rattenbury and Geoff Grove
  • Red Bud Fund of the Evanston Community Foundation
  • Eleanor and Bill Revelle
  • Sharon and Louis Rosenthal
  • Ellen Seidman
  • Elysia Solomon
  • Judith Shepelak and George Vinyard Charitable Fund
  • Marie and Bob Weissbourd

Board of Directors

  • Margaret O’Dell, Chair
  • Bennett Johnson III, Vice Chair
  • Jeremy Liu, Secretary
  • Louis F. Rosenthal, Treasurer
  • Kirk Chamberlain
  • Obinna Ekwueme
  • Bernard J. Ford
  • Danisha Hall
  • Anne Hallett
  • Ann P. Kalayil
  • Bo Kemp
  • Ngoan Le
  • Katie Maher
  • Ceasar McDowell
  • PJ McGuire
  • Dick Munson
  • Molly Rutzick


  • Cyatharine Alias,
    Manager, Community Infrastructure and Resilience
  • Marcella Bondie Keenan,
    Director, Climate Planning and Programs
  • Rebecca Cook,
    Manager, Outreach and Public Engagement
  • Robert Dean,
    Chief Executive Officer
  • Paul Esling,
    Senior Application Developer
  • Brandon Evans,
    Associate, Outreach and Engagement
  • Jacky Grimshaw,
    Vice President, Government Affairs
  • Peter Haas,
    Chief Research Scientist
  • Leslé Honoré,
    Managing Director, Strategy and Communications
  • Jon Kuta,
    Senior Web Developer
  • Jen McGraw,
    Director, Sustainability Innovation
  • Sajani Neeraja,
    Project Manager, Water and Climate Resilience
  • Heidy Persaud,
    Director, Transportation Equity
  • Preeti Shankar,
    Manager, Transportation and Urban Analytics
  • Bridget Torres,
    Vice President, Talent and Culture
  • Paulina Vaca,
    Project Associate
  • Drew Williams-Clark,
    Managing Director, Urban Resilience
  • Anna Wolf,
    Program Director, Water Equity
  • Linda Young,
    Chief Operating Officer

CNT is a member of EarthShare and 1% for the Planet.