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2021 – Audrey Wennink, MUPP ‘03

The CUPPA Alumni Association Board of Directors at the University of Illinois at Chicago announced the recipient of its annual Jim Marek Alumni Appreciation Award today.  Audrey Wennink, MUPP 2003, director of transportation at the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) in Chicago, was named the group’s 18thawardee.

"We're excited to honor Audrey, who has not only carved out a path as a leader in sustainable transportation policy in Chicago, but also continues to give back to CUPPA and the field of urban planning through involvement in organizations and direct communication with CUPPA students. She's perfectly suited to assist in the search committee for a new dean at CUPPA and is very deserving of the Marek Award,” said Michael Sewall, President of the CUPPA Alumni Association.

Before joining MPC, Audrey was a transportation planning and policy consultant for 12 years with national expertise in transit, traffic safety, freight and performance based planning. Prior to her planning career she served in various communications roles in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

Audrey joined MPC in 2017. As director of transportation, she promotes biking, walking and transit by focusing on their relationships to affordable housing, land use, equity, the environment, and mobility barriers for the disenfranchised, disabled, seniors and workers with poor transit access. She works directly on advocacy with the transit agencies and CDOT about promoting multimodalism on a daily basis. She leads MPC’s Transportation Advisory Committee, to which leaders of regional business and public policy belong, and will be working with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus on implementation of a regional Climate Action Plan, which MPC helped launch in July, highlighting improving conditions for biking, walking and transit as climate actions.

She serves on the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s transportation committee; is an advisory board member of the Greater Chicago chapter of WTS, a professional organization to advance women in the transportation industry; and is a member of the national advisory board of Young Professionals in Transportation. Additionally, she is a member of Lambda Alpha International, an honorary society focusing on land economics and planning issues; and is a fellow of the University of Chicago’s Harris School’s Civic Leadership Academy.

After graduating with her Master of Urban Planning degree, she served on the CUPPA Alumni Board of Directors for several years and hosted the annual appreciation award event in her home. She regularly communicates with CUPPA regarding MPC job announcements, events, and internships especially suited for CUPPA students.

Peggy Laemle, CUPPA Alumni Board Event Committee Co-Chair said, “Audrey Wennink is a great example of the graduates produced by our alma mater and is a strong regional influencer for our environment and human health. She offers her transportation skills to various regional and national advisory groups and will be working with the Metropolitan Mayors Council on implementation of a regional Climate Action Plan, which MPC helped launch this past July. With her interest in climate issues, Audrey focuses on improving conditions for biking, walking and transit as they relate to housing, land use, equity, and mobility barriers for all,”


The CUPPA Alumni Association has presented the CUPPA Alumni Appreciation Award recognizing individuals or groups for their dedication to the fields of urban planning and public administration and their contributions to the development of the college's students and alumni. In November 2010, the Board of Directors of the CUPPA Alumni Association voted unanimously to rename the award to the Jim Marek Alumni Appreciation Award honoring the former CUPPA assistant dean for student services, Jim Marek. Marek retired from his post in CUPPA on February 6, 2007 after over twenty-nine years of service to the university, its students and alumni. He unexpectedly died on August 13, 2010.