2017 Timuel Black Community Service Award: Michelle Boone

Chief Program and Civic Engagement Officer; Navy Pier


Michelle T. Boone is the Chief Program and Civic Engagement Officer at Navy Pier, an independent nonprofit, world-class public place that celebrates and showcases the vitality of Chicago and provides for the enjoyment of Chicago-area residents and visitors year-round; it is one of the Midwest top destinations and attracts more than 9 million people annually. Michelle joined Navy Pier in 2016 and is responsible for developing and implementing arts and culture public programs, festivals and specials events.  Previously, in 2011, she was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.  During her tenure, Michelle oversaw the annual presentation of more than 2,000 programs, festivals and special events; the management of the historic Chicago Cultural Center; led the process for a new Chicago Cultural Plan, released in 2012; and launched the first Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015.  Prior to that, Michelle was a senior program officer at the Joyce Foundation (2004–2011) overseeing the culture portfolio and distributing more than $2 million annually in grants supporting nonprofit arts organizations in six major Midwest cities. Her professional career also includes working in television, film and the recording industry, and she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Chad, Africa.  Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications and a master’s degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University, Bloomington.  Boone is the recipient of multiple honors including being named a “Chicagoan of the Year” by Chicago Tribune in 2015.  She currently serves on the boards of Americans for the Arts; the Graham Foundation; and the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

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