Nneka Onwuzurike

Focus Area:
Community and Economic DevelopmentShared Ownership
Nneka Onwuzurike, Chicago Recovery Program Manager, Office of the Mayor, City of Chicago
City of Chicago, Mayor's Office
First Deputy of Business and Neighborhood Development
Chicago, Illinois

Nneka Onwuzurike is the First Deputy of Business and Neighborhood Development for the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office. Her portfolio includes housing, business and real estate development, arts & culture, tourism, workforce development, digital equity, community wealth building and more. In this role, she helps set team vision and strategy, design economic development programs and policies, measure impact, and manages a team of nine.

In her previous role, Nneka was the Chicago Recovery Plan Program Manager in the Office of Equity and Racial Justice where she designed and managed more than $60M in COVID-19 economic recovery programs, including Community Wealth Building, Nonprofit Capacity Building, Together We Heal, Artist Relief, Food Equity, and a Legacy Business program.

She led a historic Community Wealth Building initiative that provided technical assistance and planning and pre-development grants to models of “local, democratic, and shared ownership and control of community assets,” including worker cooperatives, limited-equity housing cooperatives, community land trusts, and community investment vehicles. She is passionate about work that builds power, wealth, choice, and healing for historically disinvested and resilient communities.

Nneka is a Board Member for The Fields at Rootsprings, a cooperative-nonprofit partnership organization that stewards liberating space for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists, activists, healers, and community in Minnesota and beyond. She served as the Lead Donor Organizer for the $2 million cultivating campaign to purchase the land and renovate the space.

Nneka is also a writer and an artist. She is working on a collection of lyric essays and short stories focused on the themes of loss, displacement, and belonging. She has received fellowships and grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, Loft Literary Center, Intermedia Arts, the Givens Foundation for African-American Literature, and VONA/Voices. She is published in The Offing literary magazine.

Nneka received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis and is on a leave of absence from a joint Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration program at Harvard. She has received fellowships from Chicago United for Equity, New Leaders Council, and Headwaters Foundation for Justice Giving Project. Most importantly, she is a Scorpio sun, and a Sagittarius moon and rising.