Will Towns is executive director for Benefit Chicago, where he leads the day-to-day work of this ambitious effort to help socially motivated businesses and nonprofits access the capital they need to innovate and grow.
Towns came to Benefit Chicago from the University of Chicago, where he led the Neighborhood Initiatives team and its work to fuel economic growth, better health outcomes and increased vibrancy and sustainability in south side communities with high concentrations of poverty and blight. Prior to that, he worked on affordable housing issues related to families and communities at Mercy Portfolio Services, focusing particularly on 27 Chicago neighborhoods hit hard by the economic downturn. He administered a $169 million federal grant for the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), preserving more than 1,000 homes and, in the process, helping create 1,700 local jobs.
Towns serves on the city’s Community Land Trust Board, the Cook County Economic Development Advisory Committee and PNC Bank’s Community Development Advisory Board. He is also a board member of the National Children’s Center, the Roseland Community Medical District, Neighborhood Housing Services and the Illinois Housing Council.
Towns earned his M.B.A. from Notre Dame and his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Loyola University. He has also completed multiple certifications and executive education programs—from the Kennedy School at Harvard to the University of Lyon in France—all focused on the development of people, places and organizations.