Thomas Lenz is the Lead Organizer United Power for Action and Justice, a broad based citizen organizing project affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). United Power brings together churches, synagogues, mosques, health centers, and non-profit associations in Chicago and suburban Cook County to work for the common good on issues of shared concern. The IAF is a 70-year-old non-profit organization that trains citizens in the skills of democratic public life. Mr. Lenz also assists with the supervision of IAF-affiliated projects in metropolitan Chicago and in Germany.
Prior to his work with the IAF, Mr. Lenz was a Senior Fellow in community development at the Great Cities Institute of the University of Illinois at Chicago. He retains an un-paid associate affiliation with the Institute. From 1989 to 1995 he directed the Chicago office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national financial intermediary that channels corporate investment into inner city neighborhoods. From 1979 to 1988, Mr. Lenz was the director of a non-profit housing development corporation in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.
Mr. Lenz graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in American Studies and a minor in Urban Studies from the University of Notre Dame. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society. Mr. Lenz received a Masters in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His Masters thesis was published in the journal Social Policy. From 1977 to 1979 he was a Rotary Scholar in urban planning at the Technical University of Berlin.
Mr. Lenz is currently the Alinsky Fellow at the German Institute for Community Organizing at the Catholic University of Applied Social Sciences in Berlin, Germany. He is a regular lecturer on community organizing at both the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois and Loyola University Chicago. Mr. Lenz has written articles and book chapters on community organizing, housing and neighborhood development. Most recently his essay “Fostering Public Life in the New Suburbia through Community Organizing” was included in What’s Happening in the Neighborhood published by the National Neighborhood Coalition.
Courses Tom Lenz teaches: