Teresa Córdova is the Director of the Great Cities Institute (GCI) at the University of Illinois Chicago. She is also Professor of Urban Planning and Policy in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA). Professor Córdova received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1986.
As an applied theorist, political economist, and community-based planner, Professor Córdova approaches her work as a scholarship of engagement in which research, pedagogy, and service are integrated. Throughout her career, Teresa has engaged with communities in and outside the university and is an expert in community/university partnerships and methodologies of engaged research. In addition to strategies for community and economic development, her work focuses on global/local dynamics and the impacts of global economic restructuring on local communities, including impacts of resource extraction.
Professor Córdova has been an elected and appointed member and/or chair of national, regional and local boards, commissions and steering committees of federal, regional, county and city governments, foundations, community development corporations, grassroots organizations, editorial boards, research centers, professional associations, planning organizations, policy groups, civic and advisory councils, coalitions, and campus committees. She has been instrumental in affecting economic development policy and projects, the provision and design of infrastructure, local governance, and neighborhood change.
Dr. Córdova sits on the Cook County Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) and The Cook County Small Business Advisory Committee. She recently sat on Mayor Brandon Johnson’ Transition Subcommittee on Economic Vitality and Equity. She was Chair of the Chicago Plan Commission from 2019-2022 and served on the transition committee for Governor J.B. Pritzker on Job Creation and Economic Opportunity. Professor Córdova is a member of the Board of Directors of the Grand Victoria Foundation. She is a member of The Board of Directors of the Illinois Humanities Council; The Kennedy-King College Community Advisory Committee (CAC) and the Advisory Board of Chicago Community Trust’s We Rise Together. She recently stepped down from the Boards of Directors of Manufacturing Renaissance and Children’s Advocates for Change. From April 2020 through early 2023, she has worked closely with Illinois Unidos: Illinois Latino COVID-19 Initiative and served as co-chair of its Workplace Safety Committee. She is an Associate Editor for Economic Development Quarterly and sits on the inaugural editorial boards of Local Development and Society and The Journal of Right Wing Studies. She is an affiliate faculty of UIC’s Departments of Sociology; Gender and Women Studies; and Latino and Latin American Studies. She is also a member of the Executive Committee of UIC’s Institute for the Study of Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP). She provides extensive service in academic reviews of departments and tenure and promotion cases and peer-reviewed articles and books for publications.
Since the mid 1970s, Dr. Córdova has tracked the dynamics of global economic restructuring, paying particular attention to impacts on local communities.
She has expertise in the area of economic development via her work as a policy maker, community economic development planner, and researcher. While serving as a County Commissioner in another state, she paid particular attention to issues of economic development policy, including tax increment financing, Industrial Revenue Bonds, and infrastructure development. She is a proponent of business incubators, particularly at the neighborhood scale and has won awards for her multiple roles in developing a small business incubator and commercial kitchen. Through the Great Cities Institute (GCI), she continues her work on addressing issues of chronic and concentrated joblessness among young people, especially African American and Latino youth, supports efforts to rebuild the manufacturing sector in the Chicago region through workforce development, land use preservation, succession strategies, and high tech innovation and is part of a national campaign to promote inclusion strategies in manufacturing. She supports efforts to build curriculum for entrepreneurship around innovation and technology and encourages the development of social enterprises and small-scale worker cooperatives. GCI has developed various indices to measure the health and wealth of neighborhoods, e.g. the Hardship Index and the Opportunity Index. She is especially interested in promoting investment in disinvested neighborhood, without displacing long time residents. She publishes and speaks on the topic of global economic restructuring and its relationship to local and state economic development strategies.
Teresa is a featured speaker at conferences, symposia, and community events locally, nationally and internationally. Recently, she was the annual keynote speaker at the University of Massachusetts, Boston in Urban Planning and Community Development, co-sponsored by the Greater Boston Planners Network when she spoke on “Nurturing the next generation of urban planners committed to building anti-racist communities” (October 9, 2020 via Zoom). She was also a panelist on the topic of “Disparities in Public Health in Light of Climate Change,” 25th Beller and Joseph H. Braun Memorial Symposium, Cutting Through Academic Silos to Achieve Sustainability, (October 30, 2020 via Zoom); Panelist, “Youth Job Center presents: ‘Multiple Choice: Promoting Meaningful Career Opportunities for Youth,’ with Rita Raichouhuri, Executive Director of Early College and Career for Chicago Public School, Daniel Serota, Manager of Public Affairs Aon Service Corporation; and Jim Johnson Jr., Vice President – US Production Operations, S&C Electric Company and Scott Simpson, Partner Scott Simpson Design + Build, February 25, 2020; Panelist, “Design Forecast Chicago: A New Vision for Growth and Optimism,” Sponsored by Gensler and World Business Chicago, November 20, 2019; Panelist, “Nonprofits and the Future of Chicago,” Fall Axelson Access event, Axelson Center for Non-Profit Management, Wintrust Bank, October 29, 2019, Featured speaker, “Research and the Shaping of Public Discourse: Joblessness and Violence in Chicago,” Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, Virginia Commonwealth University, March 18, 2019; and Panelist, Book Release, Disassembled Cities: Social and Spatial Strategies to Reassemble Communities,” edited by Elizabeth L. Sweet, Great Cities Institute, March 15, 2019 and Panelist, “Joblessness Jeopardizes the Future of Teens and Young Adults in Chicago and Cook County” on panel, Analyzing the role of workforce development and education in post- secondary planning, with Rita Raichouhuri, Executive Director of Early College and Career for Chicago Public School, Youth Job Center, hosted by Deloitte, February 21, 2019
Among her international presentations, she traveled to Manchester, England in November 2019, to deliver a keynote presentation on inclusive growth. In October 2018, Dr. Córdova presented at a public forum at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland, on a panel hosted by Ecuador’s Ambassador Permanente to the WTO, Diego Aulesia Valencia, on “International Trade, Technological Change, and Development: The Role of Social Policy.” As part of a World Chicago program, she also recently traveled to the Balkans to Slovenia and Macedonia where she met with individuals from local business schools, design and planning institutes, high tech incubators, and local entrepreneurs on topics of high tech innovation and entrepreneurship. She delivered a keynote speech at the Conference on Youth Entrepreneurship at the Technology Park in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She also spoke on Doing Business in a Data-Driven Society, a Business Summit sponsored by CREED Macedonia, World Chicago and the U.S. Department of State. Teresa also participated on a panel on “Manufacturing’s rebound: Analyzing the effectiveness of state industrial policy in creating equitable access to good jobs,” at the 2018 conference held here in Chicago of the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN). Among her many public presentations, in February 2019, she was a featured speaker at an event sponsored by the Youth Job Center on analyzing the role of workforce development and education in post-secondary planning. In November 2018, she was a panelist for a program on “Race and Ownership in Manufacturing,” with Dr. Byron Brazier (Pastor of Woodlawn’s Apostolic Church), Colin Cosgrove (President of Laystrom Manufacturing), Dr. Harry Alston (Safer Foundation), moderated by David Robinson (Manufacturing Renaissance). The event was sponsored by Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council, and Freedman Seating Company.
In her ongoing work as Director of UIC’s Great Cities Institute, Córdova and GCI researcher, Matthew D. Wilson, have produced several reports on joblessness among teens and young adults in Chicago. The reports have drawn attention to the dramatic numbers of jobless young people in the region, most dramatically, Black men between the ages of 20-24, nearly half of whom are out of school and out of work. The research points to the chronic and concentrated nature of joblessness in the context of the flight of industry and opportunity from Chicago’s neighborhoods and directly connects areas with high rates of gun violence to areas with entrenched joblessness. Through ongoing research and strategic partnerships, Great Cities Institute continues to address this issue by working on pathways for employment for teens and young adults in areas of manufacturing and small business development with a focus on industrial policy, succession planning, skills development, small business incubators and worker cooperatives.
Recent reports co-authored by Córdova include The Fracturing of Gangs and Violence in Chicago: A Research-Based Reorientation of Violence Prevention and Intervention Policy, with John Hagedorn, Roberto Aspholm, Andrew Papachristos and Lance Williams. January 2019; Revitalizing Manufacturing and Expanding Opportunities for Chicago’s Black and Latino Communities, with Matthew D. Wilson and Andrew Stetner, Released by The Century Foundation, June 6, 2018; Industrial Restructuring and the Continuing Impacts of on Youth Employment in Illinois, with Matthew D. Wilson, Chicago: Great Cities Institute, released at Press Conference, Innovation High School, May 14, 2018 and The High Costs for Out of School and Jobless Youth in Chicago and Cook County, with Matthew D. Wilson, produced by the Great Cities Institute for Alternative Schools Network, released with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, U.S. Representative Robin Kelly, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, Alderman Patrick O’Connor and Alternative Schools Network on June 12, 2017.
Additional reports on employment in the region include:
- Expert Commentary: “Severe Hardships for Young People Left Behind When Others Leave,” in Between the Great Migration and Growing Exodus: The Future of Black Chicago? Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2019
- “Economics” with Kasey Henricks and Matthew D. Wilson and “Expert Commentary: Economics” in A Tale of Three Cities: The State of Racial Justice in Chicago Report, University of Illinois at Chicago, Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, May 2017
- Abandoned in their Neighborhoods: Youth Joblessness amidst the Flight of Industry and Opportunity, with Matthew D. Wilson and Great Cities Institute, for Alternative Schools Network, released at Chicago Urban League, January 30, 2017
- A Lost Generation: The Disappearance of Teens and Adults from the Job Market in Cook County with Matthew D. Wilson and Great Cities Institute, Chicago, Illinois, presented before hearing of Cook County Commission Committee on Workforce, Housing and Development March 22, 2016
- Lost: The Crisis of Jobless and Out of School Teens and Young Adults in Chicago, Illinois, and the U.S. with Matthew D. Wilson and Great Cities Institute, Chicago, Illinois, for Alternative Schools Network, released at Chicago Urban League, January 2016
In December 2018, “Chronic and concentrated youth joblessness in disassembled neighborhoods in Chicago” with Matthew D. Wilson, appeared in a book edited by Dr. Elizabeth Sweet and published by Routledge Press – Disassembled Cities: Social and Spatial Strategies to Reassemble Communities. Another recent piece (2017), “Collaborative Community Development Practice: Interfacing with Government to Create a Small Business Incubator,” was published in The Routledge Handbook of Community Development: Perspectives from Around the Globe, edited by Rhonda Phillips, et. al.
Dr. Córdova publishes in the fields of Community Development and Latino Studies.
Her recent publication (December 2021), “Hydraulic Fracturing and Boomtown Planning in Western North Dakota, appeared in the book, When Fracking Comes to Town: Governance, Planning and Economic Impacts of the US Shale Boom. She also wrote “Epilogue: Persistence and Resistance in Genízaro Identity,” for Nación Genízara: Ethnogenesis, Place, and Identity in New Mexico, which was published by University of New Mexico Press in November 2019 and has already won several book awards. Her article, “Collaborative Community Development Practice: Interfacing with Government to Create a Small Business Incubator,” (2017) was published in Phillips, Rhonda, Kenney, Sue and Brian McGrath, eds., The Handbook of Community Development, Perspectives from around the Globe, by Routledge Press.
Professor Córdova’s article, “Neoliberal Policy Regime and the Implications for Latino Studies Scholarship“ was published in 2016 in Vol. 41, No. 1 of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. In 2015, her co-authored article (with Moises Gonzales), “Establishing Principles for Values-Driven Policy,” was published by Policy Press (University of Bristol) in a book titled, Designing public policy for co-production: Theory, practice and change, edited by Catherine Durose and Liz Richardson. Her short piece on the Burnham Plan was published in Jared Green’s Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World published by Princeton Architecture Press in 2015. Another of her recent articles, “Community-based Research and Participatory Change: A Strategic, Multi-Method Community Impact Assessment” was published in the Journal of Community-Based Practice, Vol. 19, Number 1, 2011.
Older research publications include four on Chicago: “Harold Washington and the Rise of Latino Electoral Politics in Chicago 1982-1987,” in David Montejano’s edited volume, Chicano Politics and Society in the Late Twentieth Century (University of Texas Press, 1998); “Economic Restructuring and The Process of Incorporation of Latino Workers into the Chicago Economy” with John Betancur and Maria de los Angeles Torres in Latinos in the Changing U.S. Economy edited by Frank Bonilla and Rebecca Morales (Sage Publications, 1993); “Community Based Initiatives to Provide Affordable Housing,” in Larry Joseph, ed. Affordable Housing in Metropolitan Chicago, (Center for Urban Research and Policy Studies, The University of Chicago Press, 1993); and “Community Intervention Efforts to Oppose Gentrification,” Challenging Uneven Development: An Urban Agenda for the 1990s edited by Philip Nyden and Wim Wiewel,(Rutgers University Press, 1991),
Teresa has also written on the Environmental (and Economic) Justice Movement, including a piece (2021) published in the Journal of Planning Literature, entitled, “Environmental Justice and the Alliance for a Just Transition: Grist for Climate Justice Planning,” with José Bravo and José Miguel Acosta-Córdova. She also co-authored a book chapter with four veteran environmental justice activists.“Building Networks to Tackle Global Restructuring: The Environmental and Economic Justice Movement” with José T. Bravo, Jeanne Gauna, Richard Moore, and Ruben Solís, which was published in the edited volume by John Betancur and Doug Gills, The Collaborative City: Opportunities and Struggles for Blacks and Latinos in U.S. Cities (Garland Publishing, 2000). She has published “Grassroots Mobilizations in the Southwest for Environmental and Economic Justice” in The International Journal of Public Administration, Vol. 25, Numbers 2 & 3. April 2002, pp. 333- 349. During the 90s, she had a regular column in Voces, the newsletter of the SouthWest Organizing Project, which had a national circulation of 10,000 readers.
In the fields of Chicana and Latina Feminisms, she has produced several classic writings including Chicana Voices: Intersections of Class, Race and Gender (1986, 1993)(co-editor); Unsettled Issues: Chicanas in the 80’s, edited, on behalf of Mujeres en Marcha, Berkeley: (Chicano Studies Library Publication Unit, University of California, 1983, reprinted in Garcia, Alma, ed. Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings, New York: Routledge Press, (1997). “Roots and Resistance: The Emergent Writings of Twenty Years of Chicana Feminist Struggles,” in Felix Padilla, ed. Hispanic Cultures in the U.S.: The Sociological Volume, (Houston: Arte Publico Press, 1994); “Power and Knowledge: Colonialism in the Academy” in Carla Trujillo, ed. Living Chicana Theory. (Berkeley: Third Woman Press, 1997); “Anti-Colonial Chicana Feminism” in New Political Science: A Journal of Politics and Culture, Volume 20, Number 4, December 1998 republished in Torres, Rodolfo D. and George Katsiaficas, eds., Latino Social Movements: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives (New York and London: Routledge Press, 1999); “Grassroots Mobilizations in the Southwest for Environmental and Economic Justice” in The International Journal of Public Administration, Vol. 25, Numbers 2 & 3. (April 2002); “Fields of Knowledge for Democracy, Justice and Community: A Latina Quest” in Vazquez, Francisco, ed. Latino/a Thought: Culture, Politics and Society, Second Edition (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, Publishers, 2009); and “Thirty Years of Chicana/Latina Studies: Early Organizing for the Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social,” in Dialogo, (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, Volume 20 Number 2 Fall 2017).
Early in her career, Teresa was a National Science Foundation (NSF) research trainee at the University of Denver (1972), where she also coordinated the Department of Sociology’s Statistical Laboratory, and a National Institute of Mental Health Research Trainee (1984) at UC Berkeley’s Institute for the Study of Social Change, directed by Professor Troy Duster. As a graduate student, she was a recipient of the American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship and the Spivak Dissertation Award. From 1990-91, she was a Ford Foundation National Research Council Post Doctoral Fellow.
Before returning to the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she taught in the late 1980s, she was Chair and Professor of Community and Regional Planning at the University of New Mexico (UNM). During her twenty-one years at UNM, she was founder and Director of the Resource Center for Raza Planning in the College of Architecture and Planning at UNM. While director, the Center engaged students in research, policy writing and analysis, public participation, design, strategic and sector planning, and curriculum development on issues related to economic development, infrastructure (water, sewer, drainage and road improvement), land use, neighborhood stabilization, agricultural preservation and youth entrepreneurship.
Dr. Córdova served as an elected member of the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners (New Mexico). (She is the only woman to have ever represented this district and the third woman ever elected to the Commission). While a County Commissioner, she served on the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority; The Mid-Region Council of Government’s Metropolitan Transportation Board (MPO); Bernalillo County Board of Finance and was Chair of The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Government Commission. While Commissioner, she brought needed infrastructure projects and improvements, economic development, jobs, amenities such as open space and parks, a medical clinic, youth facilities, and various services to her district. In addition, she initiated several long- range planning projects. She also focused on tax incentive policies including industrial revenue bonds and tax increment financing. Later, Córdova served on the Technical Standards Committee of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA).
Teresa was on the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities from 1998–2002.
Teresa was President of the Board of the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation from 1999-2004. During the same time period, Teresa served on the Land Use and Land Rights Campaign of the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (SNEEJ). From 1999-2001, she served on the U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia Labs, Community Advisory Board (CAB). From 1995-97, she served on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (NEJAC), Subcommittee on Hazardous Waste and Facility Siting. Throughout the 1990s, Teresa was active with the environmental and economic justice organization, SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP) and participated in regional and national gatherings of environmental justice activists, including the gathering to draft the Jemez Principles of Democratic Organizing and the second People of Color Summit in Washington, D.C.
In the early 1980s, Teresa was on the City of Berkeley Planning Commission, serving as Vice-Chair, in the administration of Mayor Eugene “Gus” Newport. She also served on a number of Mayor and City Council Committees for community and economic development. While in Berkeley, she was active in the anti-apartheid movement and through a course that she taught, initiated the Empowering Women of Color Conference, which has continued as an annual event since 1985. She was a co-founder of Mujeres en Marcha at Berkeley, Mujeras Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS) and the Chicana Caucus of the National Association for Chicano and Chicana Studies (NACCS). Throughout the years, she has been an active participant in the Inter University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR), serving on several committees and research working groups.
Teresa has a long history of working in coalitions, especially Black/Latino and people of color coalitions. In 2018, her essay, “Solidarity Revealed through Music,” was published in Robinson, David, Palmer, Alice, and Edward L. “Buzz” Palmer, eds. The World is Watching, Third World Press Foundation, December 2018.
Dr. Córdova’s recent service includes sitting on the Boards of Directors of Manufacturing Renaissance, LUCHA (Latino United Community Housing Association) and llinois Voices for Children’s Thought Leaders of Color Advisory Committee. She also recently completed terms on the editorial boards of Latinos in the United States Book Series (Michigan State University Press); State and Local Government Review; and Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies; and Latino Studies. From 2010-2017, Córdova served as President of the Board of Directors of The Praxis Project, a national, nonprofit organization that provides research, technical assistance and financial support to tackle issues impacting the well-being of communities. She recently sat on the Board of Directors of CANTV, Chicago’s public access television. From 2011-2013, she was Secretary of the Governing Board of the Associate of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP).
Dr. Córdova has received multiple recognitions for academic achievement and leadership including recognition of her role in infrastructure planning and in developing a small business incubator and commercial kitchen.
In October 2019, Teresa was one of four individuals honored by State Comptroller, Susana Mendoza, during Hispanic Heritage Month. In 2015, Teresa was honored with the Sor Juana Legacy Award from the National Museum of Mexican Art. She was also listed in 2015, 2016, and 2017 in the Chicago United and Negocios Now, Who’s Who in Hispanic Chicago and was recently recognized as an Advocate for Inclusion by Chicago United.
As Director of the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Teresa applies her years of experience and commitment towards addressing challenges facing cities and regions, while simultaneously advancing UIC’s Great Cities Commitment.