is a problem-solver, advocate, PhD, triathlon competitor, daughter of activists, and defender of the public with a passion for public policy.
Never one to settle for the status quo, Amara believes in thinking outside the box, challenging systems, and building new ones that reflect values that put the public interest first.
Amara got her start as a journalist, desiring to capture the human experience through stories. In addition to degrees in journalism and political science, she earned a Masters degree in education, a law degree where she focused on international and environmental law, and a PhD in Education Policy. Amara has always sought to translate complex public policy to a form that is easily understood and used by the public to arm people with the information they need to make the best decisions for their lives. She consults with education organizations and community groups advocating on issues of education equity and works with groups to design community-centered education plans. She created “Thanks for Paying Your Taxes” – an animated series that simplifies public finance topics to help residents understand how their tax dollars are being used. She conducts annual in-depth budget analyses of the City of Chicago budgets and hosts town halls and workshops in communities across Chicago to help residents and community groups understand the numbers so they can advocate for their own interests.
Amara founded the Institute for Cooperative Economics and Economic Innovation, a social lab whose primary purpose is to educate, assist, and advocate for the expansion of cooperative economic models and other innovative economic development concepts that would diversify Chicago’s economic eco-system such as worker-owned cooperatives, housing cooperatives, community land trusts, sharing economy platforms, and financial institutions and products that support these enterprises.
She co-authored the book “Chicago Isn’t Broke: Funding the City We Deserve” which proposes fiscally responsible revenue-generating proposals for the City as well as ways to eliminate corruption and waste in city government. She is a staunch advocate for transparency in city government and equity as a matter of policy.
Amara’s goal is to help communities – especially challenged communities – unlock their civic imagination so they are empowered to create the solutions that address the city’s most pressing issues. She has worked in city government, managed a municipality, run non-profits, and worked at the grassroots level where she has always served as a bridge-builder and advocate.
Amara proudly calls the West Side of Chicago home. When she’s not wandering through Chicago’s neighborhoods or writing, she’s either on her bike, in the pool, or learning a new language.