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A leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors

Champaign, IL


Mayor: Deborah Frank Feinen (2015 - Present)
Institute Session: 2017 MICD West Indianapolis

“Before becoming Mayor, I worked in environmental law and we always laughed that you’d never go into a case ‘naked’ without your technical support. So when I attended MICD without my planner, it was a little intimidating for me. The experience was incredibly eye opening because we don’t often get to see the thought processes behind these things as policy makers.”

Champaign, IL Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen attended MICD in 2017 and sought assistance with her city’s plan to redevelop a parking lot into a more vibrant public space at an important intersection. Thanks to her experience at MICD, Mayor Feinen said she was much more engaged with the planning process of this project than she might have been otherwise.

“We’ve had a few small-group activities for feedback that I’ve been involved in, whereas on another project I may have let staff take the lead. After MICD, I feel a much more intense sense of connection with the project. I’m much more interested in the planning process and energized to make sure the project stays on track.

Mayor Feinen encourages all mayors to participate in MICD. “MICD provided an opportunity out of the public eye to brainstorm with and learn from design professionals of unmatched ability. You can’t even imagine what you don’t know about the planning and design process, and I learned as much from listening to other mayors’ projects as I did from mine. It really helped me learn how to think like a planner. Part of MICD’s goal is to empower mayors to have that kind of community vision. I left the session energized to work on city planning projects and to look at and think about our community in a different way.”

Read more about Mayor Feinen’s MICD project as it progresses: Plan Our Plaza

Landing page photo by flickr user Benjamin Esham