When I considered writing for Hola America (HA), I wanted to promote positive images of leaders from the Midwest. For this article, I profile Eli Reynoso the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the Chicago Park District (CPD). CPD is the largest park district system in the country.
In my research, I discovered the impact of parks, recreation and conservation on the Quality of Life (QoL) of communities. HA readers should look at their parks as sources for increasing community engagement and creating QoL opportunities for families and youth.
As the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) states: “Parks are key to ensuring the health of our environment because they play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, providing clean water and clean air, and enabling conservation of natural resources.”
In 2013, the National Hispanic Medical Association and the National Hispanic Health Foundation issued a report that identified “limited outdoor space for parks” as a challenge for the Latino community. The report made a recommendation to “increase access to more parks, community gardens and walking areas.”
I met Eli about fifteen years ago. He had just started his information technology (IT) business, after achieving success as a corporate IT consultant. These experiences provided Eli insights on how to design customized and innovative solutions for corporate clients, small businesses, governments, and nonprofit organizations. Eli’s client-centric approach, his reputation for quality work and customer service, caught the attention of prominent leaders in the City of Chicago and he was recruited to serve as the CTO for the Chicago Park District. Eli shared, that the two years in his role as CTO has been an honor. Eli is aware that Chicago’s parks serve an important mission for all Chicago residents and for visitors to the city seeking a world-class experience in a global city.
As a public-sector leader in the IT industry, Eli knows that change is constant, and emerging technologies and innovations in both public and private spheres are introduced as fast as one can keep up. Eli insists that being pro-active is critical to his role. Chicago’s parks and the technology used to support their mission must be world-class. Eli works with his CPD IT team to enhance Chicago’s park experience with a goal of seamlessly integrating world-class IT and Wi-Fi services to all of Chicago’s 600-plus parks. Eli’s vigilance helps insure CPD’s IT systems and data are secure from global threats from hackers. Through his team of dedicated IT and government professionals, he further ensures security systems are up-to-date, prepared, and capable of deterring threats to sensitive CPD information and data.
Eli sees partnerships with school and community leaders as essential for finding ways to improve customer service. For example, based on discussions with youth leaders, Eli is exploring initiatives such as how to integrate virtual and augmented gaming for CPD youth programs. Helping youth is a passion for Eli. He serves as President of an organization called Orange Crush Social Athletic Club (OC). OC is a civic organization in Chicago, made up of community leaders committed to helping young people become leaders, through involvement in academics and sports programs. Eli believes mentors he met in his youth, through OC, were critical in his personal and professional development.
Eli often shares his experience with youth interested in technology, government, and business careers. His advice is that a pathway to success includes good study habits, staying on top of technology changes, commitment to lifelong learning, and a focus on serving others. Eli credits his parents, as well as his three brothers and sisters, for instilling in him his commitment to family and community. As his father often told him, “Always do your best.” Eli is not all work, as he uses his highly-developed planning skills for date-nights with his lovely wife Laura, an educator and community activist. He also applies his logistics talents for coordinating large groups of people for Santana concerts at Ravinia Festival Park and various outdoor camp outings. Eli welcomes the opportunity to meet with Midwest community leaders interested in learning how he leverages his IT, business, government, and Chicago parks experience to make a meaningful, positive community impact.
Roberto Carmona is a contributing writer for Hola American and is the Principal Consultant for Carmona Strategic Solutions (CSS). Roberto is a nationally recognized consultant who has successfully executed on complex projects in the areas of leadership development, revenue generation, strategy design, economic development, and organizational change, for Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, public sector organizations and small businesses.
Roberto has a Masters’ Degree in Public Administration from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has a master’s degree in political science from Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), a Bachelors’ Degree from Northern Illinois University and an Associate of Arts degree from Sauk Valley Community College.