Gabrielle Lyon and Alex Linares join The Great Cities Team

Left: Gabrielle Lyon. Right: Alex Linares.

Great Cities Institute is so pleased that Gabrielle Lyon is joining Great Cities to help us build our Cities, Youth and Design Initiative. Alex Linares joins us from the worker cooperative development sector to help build our research on entrepreneurship and workforce development. We are excited to have them as a part of our team. Read their bios below for a preview of what they’ll be working on.

Gabrielle Lyon, Ph.D., is a nationally-recognized non-profit leader, educator, and public speaker with a background that includes launching and leading award-winning social impact organizations and initiatives focused on leveling the playing field of educational opportunity for underserved youth particularly in science, architecture and urban planning. As a senior researcher at the Great Cities Institute she is exploring issues related to cities, youth and design. Questions of interest include: How are youth currently involved in shaping the places they live and learn? What impact do participatory urban experiences have on civic identity? What can be done to generate an evidence base that ensures youth voice informs the development of urban plans at all scales?

Lyon is the author of No Small Plans, a graphic novel that follows the neighborhood adventures of teens in Chicago’s past, present and future designed to ignite urban planning and civic engagement and coeditor of A Simple Justice: The Challenge of Small Schools. Lyon received her BA and MA in History from the University of Chicago and her PhD in Curriculum Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Amongst her honors include being named a National After School Champion by the After School Alliance, Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine and a Leadership Fellow with the Chicago Community Trust. You can follow her at @LyonGabrielle or visit

Alex Linares is an Economic Development Planner and will be working on research projects and engagement with community-based organizations. He works primarily within GCI’s research clusters of employment and economic development, and community wellbeing. Linares most recently published report Policy Recommendations for Amendments to the State of Illinois Worker Cooperative Statute was presented at Chicago’s 1st Cooperative Economy Summit.

Linares comes with vast experience in the nonprofit sector working on issues in labor rights, worker cooperatives, interim housing, and workforce development. Previously he worked for the Working World, a non-profit lending organization, where he was assigned to provide technical assistance to New Era Windows Cooperative, the largest manufacturing worker cooperative in Chicago. At New Era Windows, he provided technical assistance in operations management and sales. Linares also worked as an organizer and paralegal for the Working Hands Legal Clinic, which assisted immigrant workers with wage theft cases, and violations of the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act. He conducted various know your rights labor workshops throughout Chicagoland including Waukegan, Joliet, Melrose Park, and the Mexican Consulate.