Kelly Evans

Kelly is currently the Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at the Chicago Urban League where she is responsible for setting the strategy and agenda for the business building and community impact efforts for small businesses. Understanding the intersection of small business and community economic development, Kelly also works with community and municipal leaders to determine business needs and assure that small businesses receive the support necessary to successfully integrate into the communities that they serve.

As the former National Director of Community Integration and National Director of Workforce Development for Cresco Labs, one of the country’s largest, vertically integrated cannabis companies, Kelly was responsible for creating and implementing social equity and social justice initiatives, workforce development and educational programming on a national platform by creating partnerships with community organizations, local businesses and educational institutions throughout the country.

Prior to her work at Cresco Labs, Kelly was the Chief of Staff for former Illinois State Senator and “Cannabis Czar” Toi Hutchinson. There she was responsible for leading district programming, community engagement, and handling legislative community/business concerns. As the former Director of Economic and Community Development for the Village of University Park, Kelly was responsible for working with various Fortune 500 companies, providing business development services for local businesses and providing marketing and public relations for local municipalities for business attraction and community engagement and was an integral participant in the Southland Economic Development leadership.

With a BA in English from Knox College, and an MS in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, Kelly commands an overwhelming understanding that the collaboration of community, education, business and government is imperative to ensuring the future of a globally competitive economy and is the intersection of true community engagement and ultimate change.

VP Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Chicago Urban League; Social Equity Evangelist; Founder of Kush Kollective LLC Brand