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Aurie A. Pennick Papers

Identifier: spe-h00125

Scope and Contents

Materials related to Pennick's time with Harold Washington's campaign and administration: Women's Task Force manuscripts, publications, ephemera and news clippings


  • 1966 - 2016
  • Majority of material found within 1982 - 2016


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

Aurie A. Pennick, an attorney, retired in 2016 from the position of Executive Director and Treasurer of the Field Foundation of Illinois, Inc. where for over twelve years she was directly responsible for grant-making management and oversight for approximately sixty million dollars in foundation assets. From 1992 to 2002, Ms. Pennick was the President and CEO of the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities, the nation’s only fair housing organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in 1966. From 1987 to 1992, Ms. Pennick was the Managing Attorney – Administration for the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Legal Department where among other administrative matters she oversaw Freedom of Information requests. Prior to joining the CTA’s Legal Department, Ms. Pennick was the Assistant Director for Special Grants with the MacArthur Foundation where she designed and implemented The Fund for Neighborhood Initiatives; a multi-million dollar grants program for small and emerging community organizations. Her work at the MacArthur Foundation is referenced in the book Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama by David Garrow. Ms. Pennick began her career in philanthropy at the Chicago Community Trust as the third Fellow and first female in the Trust’s Minority Fellowship Program and is referenced in the recently published book, The Chicago Community Trust: A History of Its Development 1915-2015 by Frank Denman Loomis and Terry Mazany.

A native Chicagoan, Ms. Pennick received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the Administration of Criminal Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She later received her law degree from John Marshall Law School. Throughout her lengthy nonprofit career she has led several nonprofit organizations, including being the founding Executive Director of the Greenhouse Shelter, the city’s first battered women’s shelter. For almost twenty years, Ms. Pennick was an adjunct instructor at the then Spertus Institute: Masters of Human Services Administration where she taught courses on the laws impacting nonprofits; strategic planning and board development. Ms. Pennick also taught a Fair Housing course at DePaul University.

From her work in fair housing in 2005, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development invited Ms. Pennick to speak at their national conference held in Atlanta in observance of the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act. With regards to housing Ms. Pennick co-authored a chapter on affordable housing in the book, New Chicago, published by Temple Press in 2006.

Ms. Pennick has been the recipient of numerous awards and appointments which include the following:

1984: appointed to the Chicago Police Board by Mayor Washington.

1996: appointed by HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros to the Official U.S. Delegation for the Habitat II Global Conference on Cities in Istanbul, Turkey.

2002: awarded Aspen Institute Fellowship.

2003: received the Human Relations Award by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.

2006: received the Handy Lindsey Jr. Award and Lecture on Inclusiveness in Philanthropy by the Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy.

2006-2008: appointed to the White House Fellowship Regional Selection Panel.

2010: received the Civic Engagement and Community Service Award from UIC’s Gender and the Women’s Studies Program, as well as, the Jane Addams Women of Valor Award from the Jane Addams Hull House Association.

2012: received the Chicago Women in Philanthropy; Making a Difference Award.

2013: appointed Chair of the now dismantled Cook County Violence Prevention, Intervention and Reduction Advisory Committee, by Cook County Board President. In this position Ms. Pennick was responsible for the development and implementation of the process by which Cook County distributed funds to support community organizations addressing issues of violence.

2016: awarded the Neighborhood Housing Services – Gale Cincotta Visionary Award; awarded the Studs Terkel Uplifting Voices by the Public Narratives and awarded the James Joseph National Award by the national Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE).

In 2010, Ms. Pennick was one of thirty judges and lawyers that participated in an historic trip to Cuba sponsored by the Chicago Bar Association. Ms. Pennick’s article entitled “Pride and Preservation” was published in the January, 2011 CBA Journal: Cuba at Crossroads – CBA Delegations Travels to Havana. Ms. Pennick’s efforts in the civil rights movement of Chicago have been highly regarded. She is referenced in the book, The Chicago Freedom Movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Activism, published in 2015 by University Press of Kentucky and was also quoted by Chicago Sun-Times journalist, Mary Mitchell in an August 5, 2016 article “MLK in Chicago -50 Years Later” and featured in the NPR series on the 50th Anniversary of the Marquette Park march. Ms. Pennick’s oral history is documented in The HistoryMakers Collection which is a part of The Library of Congress.

Most recently, Ms. Pennick has become the consulting attorney with Chicago’s Get Clear Illinois initiative focused on expungements of minor criminal records primarily of African Americans in marginalized communities of the city. This past August, Ms. Pennick was one of four national panelists for the inaugural Race Today podcast (which may be found on their Facebook page) focused on Police Brutality and the upcoming March in Washington.

In addition, Ms. Pennick was a founding board member of the Lake County Community Foundation and has served on the boards of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and Housing Action Illinois. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Field Museum, the Rush Medical Center and the Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy. She is also a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago.

Biography written by Aurie A. Pennick, 2020


2 Linear Feet (in 4 boxes (7 artifacts, 4 photographs, 6 videos))

Language of Materials



Chicago native, Aurie A. Pennick is an African American attorney and philanthropist whose work spans across Chicago’s municipal and nonprofit organizations. Pennick’s papers include her involvement with Mayor Harold Washington’s Office of Women’s Affairs, her decade of executive stewardship at the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities and her ongoing engagement with housing and policing issues in Chicago. The collection contains a variety of articles, newsletters, programs, reports, studies and videos that Pennick authored, consulted in or contributed to in the course of her work from 1982 to 2016.


The collection is organized into 3 series:

Series 1: Mayor Harold Washington Administration, 1982-1987

Series 2: Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities, 1966-2006

Series 3: Subject Files, 1990-2016

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Access to some audiovisual material may not be possible due to available replay equipment or to state of physical media. Please contact the archives before your visit.

Physical Location

Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least 24-hours prior to your research visit to coordinate access.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Aurie A. Pennick, 2019

Related Materials

Harold Washington Archives and Collections, Community Services Sub-Cabinet Records

Harold Washington Archives and Collections, Mayoral Campaign Records

Harold Washington Archives and Collections, Mayoral Records. Press Office Photographs

Harold Washington Archives and Collections, Public Safety/Regulatory Sub-Cabinet Records

Residents’ Journal Records

Faith Rich Papers

Guide to the Aurie A. Pennick Papers
Michelle McCoy
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository

Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States
(312) 747-4875