Ruth Ann Wuorenma JD » Speakers Bureau

Ely Speakers Bureau

Welcome to the Lambda Alpha International Ely-Chicago Chapter Speakers Bureau. Our chapter members offer themselves as a resource for you across a wide variety of land economics industries. Members of LAI Ely-Chicago have a minimum of 10 years of professional experience in their land economics field. They have been selected by their peers as worthy of recognition for their commitment to excellence. Click on a category below to find your next speaker, panelist or moderator from our membership.

If you are an LAI Ely-Chicago Chapter Member, click here to apply for the Speakers Bureau.

Photo of Ruth Ann Wuorenma JD

Ruth Ann Wuorenma, JD

President and Founder, Neighborhood Capital Institute
Work 47 W. Polk St. Suite 100, Box 573 Chicago IL 60605 Cell Phone: (312) 218-8136


Ruth Wuorenma is a land use and development expert who has focused her career on helping public, private, for-profit and nonprofit entities align goals and assets for mutual benefit and increased effectiveness. Her work as a land use lawyer and as a developer informs her research, her policy recommendations and her interest in advancing best development practices. Her path has spanned national and international commercial real estate, market-rate and affordable housing, and various civic roles. She has deep experience in land use and entitlements; in the creation of new real estate products and systems that are replicable and scalable; in site selection and development; and has a lifelong passion for community engagement that strengthens a shared sense of place.


Neighborhood Capital Institute (NCI). In 2003, Ruth created NCI, an Illinois not-for-profit policy and practice corporation, with federal 501c3 tax-exempt status. NCI offers strategic planning and real estate development services to clients, both public and private, that own or control significant real estate and/or infrastructure, helping them leverage those assets so as to foster capital investment, economic vitality, and an enhanced quality of life for residents and other stakeholders. NCI typically works on projects where the constraints on new investment are too large, complicated or costly for either the public or private sector alone to address, and where focused collaboration is required among many stakeholders. Often, NCI works as an owner’s representative or project manager, offering master development strategies, as well as pre-development management, to help communities move beyond “piecemeal solutions and workarounds,” toward transformational change of significant scale, including the preparation of entitled, market-ready sites to activate the development plan.


Affiliations. Ruth has been a member of Lambda Alpha International, Ely Chapter, since 2000. She has served as a board member, and was honored to receive its Robert J. Piper Leadership Award in . She is an active member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), both nationally and regionally, including membership in the Public Development and Infrastructure Council, and ULI Chicago’s Policy Committee since its inception. She is a Visiting Scholar/Senior Fellow at the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. Other recent affiliations include her service on the board of directors of Illinois American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE – AWK); membership in the Waukegan Economic Development Advisory Board (WEDAB); and membership in the Land Use Committee of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the federal MPO for Transportation. She has been an advisor to studio classes for Transit-Oriented Development in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She is a member of the Transportation Subcommittee at the Union League of Chicago, which was instrumental in the initial formation of the $3.2B Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE). Ruth and her husband, Frank Seever, are proud owners of “Happy Turtle Farms,” two farm sites in Michigan that focus on the preservation of small farms and wildlife habitat.


Representative speaking engagements:

For ULI Chicago, I proposed, then moderated, a panel at The Plant on March 15, 2018, on the Craft Brewing Industry, and its implications for revitalizing neighborhoods. Speakers included 2 brewery principals and the executive director of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild.

For ULI Toronto, I participated in a panel on implications of the Regional Rapid Transit Expansion - urbanized suburbs or more sprawl? The moderator was the Chief Planning Officer for Metrolinx, one of North America’s largest infrastructure projects, and the panel included developers and another transit corporation.


Full Circle Stakeholder Engagement


Favored Speaking Topics:

1. The importance to public leadership of having access to disinterested pre-development counsel before they issue RFQ/P’s. Without that, leaders are often left responding to others’ aspirations, not those of the local community.

2. The importance of testing plans with the development and finance communities before they are finalized so that they don’t fall flat upon passage. It is possible to create development plans that are embraced by community and market alike.

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47 W. Polk St. Suite 100, Box 573 Chicago IL 60605