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About Us

Our History

Bronzeville is one of the oldest black neighborhoods in Chicago, and it was traditionally the commercial and cultural center of the city’s African-American community. Hit during the second half of the 20th century with changes in the South Side population patterns, loss of stockyard and steel mills, discriminatory lending practices and attempts at urban renewal saw the community’s fortunes decline, and its commercial district’s dying out. The collapse of the housing market in 2008 made earlier revitalization efforts difficult.

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While we face our own set of challenges, our developments are tailored to the specific needs and unique assets of our community. We provide job opportunities to residents, quality goods and services for existing and new residents, and unique events and attractions to encourage visitors to enjoy the wealth of culture Bronzeville has to offer. As a result, these developments help to stabilize our communities, facilitate their integration with the broader region, and improve the well-being of residents.

Bronzeville History

OUR APPROACH

Our approach to revitalization is this - use the local culture and rich history to create a destination type of experience that attracts customers to engage in commercial opportunities and inspire residents to come out and interact with their growing community. In this way, signature, black culture and history can be learned and celebrated while underserved minority residents feel a sense of pride and hope in new opportunities.

We’re developing restaurants that feature black cuisine from across the globe. We operate a co-working facility to lift up the next generation of community enterprises and maintain an award-winning garden and bicycling programs that attract visitors and bring residents together.

Stay In The Know

Stay updated on all things Build Bronzeville! Be the first to know about Events, News, updates by joining our mailing list!

THE TEAM

Build Bronzeville Team

BERNARD LOYD

UJ Founder & President

Between 1990 and 2003, as a member of the management consulting firm of McKinsey & Company, Bernard helped senior corporate leaders around the world expand existing businesses, create new businesses, and improve operations. Bernard’s contributions at McKinsey include co-founding its global Agriculture and Food Chains initiative and leading world-wide client development and service in that arena. He also co-founded and led the firm-wide Black Client Service Staff initiative, which drove substantial increases in the number of Black associates and partners. In addition, he co-founded the Chicago Office’s Social Ventures sector and worked with public sector clients to address key regional issues.

Bernard’s civic efforts are focused on improving access to economic opportunity. In Chicago, he currently serves as a member of the Board of Governors of the Metropolitan Planning Council and of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s Green Ribbon Committee. He recently served as member and chairman of the Board of Trustees of Centers for New Horizons, as co-chairman of the governor-appointed Dan Ryan Taskforce, and as convener of the Friends of the Checkerboard Lounge. He also has served on the board of trustees of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A native of Chicago, Bernard was raised primarily in Germany and Liberia, West Africa. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from MIT, including a doctorate in computational fluid dynamics and a masters of science in business. He and his family reside in Chicago’s Bronzeville community.

Anthony Brown

Maintenance man

Mr. Anthony Brown is our energetic and hardworking maintenance man. He helps keep our properties looking clean and nice. In his spare time, he is an award-winning stepper and loves promoting positive ways of living. Laughter and making people laugh is one of these great talents that he brings to the Urban Juncture team.

RACHEL GADSON

Managing Director

Oversees the activities of the Bronzeville Incubator. Responsible for the management of the Incubator’s resources, as well as brainstorming strategic goals and formulating plans to make sure those goals are met.

Rachel Gadson was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. She has a strong attachment to the creative arts community and is a proud Chicagoan. She attended Florida A&M University where she attained her Bachelors in the field of Graphic Design; and also studied internationally at Studio Arts Center International, in Florence, Italy.

A combination of love for the creative arts industry, and a keen desire to empower creatives shapes the trajectory of Rachel's career and it's the same fire that keeps her propelling toward her goals.

KAARON JOHNSON

Operations Manager/Boxville Lead Manager

Kaaron manages the day to day operations across all of the Urban Juncture initiatives and is the lead manager at Boxville. She creates vending and promotional opportunities to help independents, creatives, and entrepreneurs expose their brands.

Fashionista and collector, Kaaron imbues everything she does with her unique combination of style, commitment, and grit. Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago she has a huge commitment to community and youth engagement.

LEWIS LEE

As lead farmer of Green Line Farm, Lewis is responsible for all of the production planning and execution for this unique rooftop facility. He also provides leadership for many other plant and landscaping activities on 51st Street.

SHYVETTE WILLIAMS

Interior Consultant & Designer

Award-winning artist, model, civic leader and interior decorator. Provided design concepts and execution of the Bronzeville Jerk Shack and The Bronzeville Incubator spaces and day-to-day guidance on maintaining these designed spaces

Candice Archie

Community Garden Lead

Native to Chicago, Candice is an interdisciplinary creative whose principle work is rooted in health, wellness, and community service. She is the creator of several documentaries, musical compositions, and books; most notably Healing Fear and Trauma with Pranayama and Qigong. Her goal is to offer her talents for the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefit of others – and in turn, use these special encounters to further her continuous growth.

John Robinson Jr

Lead Maintenance Man

Mr. John Robinson learned his craft of painting from his father in 1968 and has used it to create beautiful spaces all over Chicago. John accredits the Johnson’s Equal Rights Movement to giving him the knowledge and resources to perfect his painting skills.

John has used his painting skills across all of our platforms. He has been the lead painter on The Bronzeville Incubator, Boxville, and other Urban Juncture projects.

In his spare time, he enjoys writing songs and painting portraits, he gets a thrill out of working at Urban Juncture and meeting different creative people like himself on a daily basis.

Maya Jones

Neighborhood Engagement Fellow

Jada-Amina H.

Forum Fellow

URBAN JUNCTURE

Our developments are tailored to the specific needs & unique assets of our communities. We provide job opportunities to residents, quality goods and services to serve existing and secure new residents, and unique events and attractions to attract visitors. As a result, we help to stabilize our communities, facilitate their integration with the broader region, and improve the well-being of residents.

Learn More

UPCOMING
EVENTS

DONATE

It takes a commitment from and collaboration between community members, the business sector, government municipalities, and charitable foundations to bring each new concept to life. Our partners in revitalization are critical to Build Bronzeville’s success. Learn how you can help.

Donate

VOLUNTEER

It takes a commitment from and collaboration between community members, the business sector, government municipalities, and charitable foundations to bring each new concept to life. Our partners in revitalization are critical to Build Bronzeville’s success. Learn how you can help.

Learn More

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