Original Article: Public Building Commission
Mayor Rahm Emanuel today named Felicia Davis Executive Director of the Public Building Commission (PBC) of Chicago and Judy Frydland Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Buildings (DOB). Erin Lavin Cabonargi, the current PBC Executive Director, will be stepping down to accept a job in the private sector.
“Felicia’s diverse background has served Chicago well in her various positions in city government, and her most recent work at DOB supporting and promoting new developments in neighborhoods throughout the city has positioned her to ably lead the PBC as the Commission continues to develop community facilities and infrastructure,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Similarly, Judy has decades of experience fighting for the safety of Chicago residents in building court, and the relationships she’s built with the business community along the way will enable her to be an effective advocate for public safety and continued economic development at DOB.”
Davis was named DOB Commissioner in 2013, and previously served as the first Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement. Davis has worked in a wide range of environments with diverse populations and built strong networks and partnerships along the way. Davis also served as the First Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Emanuel from May 2011 to June 2012. She served as a member of the Mayoral Transition Team and Chair the Public Safety Committee in 2011. Before returning to public service, Davis served as the Vice President of Administration at Kendall College. Prior to Kendall College, she served the Chicago Police Department (CPD), with distinction for 10 years. During her tenure at CPD, she worked in many roles, completing her law enforcement career as a Detective in the Department’s Violent Crimes section, where she also oversaw the Community Policing Strategies.
Under Davis’ watch, DOB implemented a number of new initiatives to enhance public safety while promoting development. Working with City Council, DOB established more stringent safety standards that ensure all licensed Chicago crane operators are in compliance with new regulations while deterring violations through enhanced fines. Additionally, DOB has reduced the time required to obtain a permit, which increased permitting and construction activity to $7.1 billion in 2014, up from $3.7 billion in 2012.
In her role as Executive Director of the PBC, Davis will oversee construction and renovation projects for the city of Chicago and its sister agencies, including the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Public Library, Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago. Davis will begin serving as executive director on June 9, pending approval by the PBC Board of Commissioners.
Frydland currently serves as a Deputy Corporation Counsel in the Chicago Department of Law’s Building & License Enforcement Division. She has prosecuted Chicago landlords in the Circuit Court of Cook County First Municipal Division for Building, Fire and Lead paint violations for more than 25 years, and she has participated in multiple task forces for numerous intergovernmental and multi-agency projects, including the formation of policy on code enforcement and crime prevention. She also routinely works with the Chicago business community to encourage new business development, and her background will allow her to seamlessly move into this position and further foster economic development. Frydland will begin serving as acting commissioner until her appointment is approved by the Chicago City Council.
In her role as DOB Commissioner, Frydland will be responsible for enforcing the building code; continuing efforts to modernize the department, including reducing permitting times; fostering economic opportunities by working with developers and builders on economic development projects; and promoting public safety.
“I want to thank Erin for nearly a decade of service to the city of Chicago in which she oversaw billions of dollars in development that was completed in a timely manner and collectively under budget,” said Mayor Emanuel. “From the upcoming opening of the Chinatown Library this summer to the modernization of high schools across the city, the projects that Erin spearheaded will benefit Chicago residents for generations to come.”
Lavin Cabonargi has been with the PBC since 2006; she was appointed to serve as Executive Director by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2008. In the last several years, she has been instrumental in delivering projects for all public agencies across the city including the Ping Tom Fieldhouse, libraries in Chinatown, Albany Park and Back of the Yards, 31st Street Harbor, the 2013 School Investment program renovating over 100 schools and major schools construction projects including Sarah Goode STEM, Back of the Yards, Jones and CVCA. Her last PBC Board meeting will be June 9, and she will start a new job in the private sector as the Director of Construction at Sterling Bay.
“In my tenure at the PBC, I have had the honor of working in partnership with our clients to plan, design and construct new and renovated public facilities that have and will become community anchors,” said Lavin Cabonargi. “It has been a pleasure to work under both Mayors Daley and Emanuel to invest in the infrastructure that will allow the city to economically prosper.”