Eve Critton joined Fourth Economy + Steer in August, assuming the role of Senior Consultant for Economic Development. Eve earned an MPA in urban policy, management, and communications from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in 2020, and spent the following two years leading projects, managing business development, and mentoring team members at James Lima Planning + Development in New York.
We asked Eve a few questions about her role, how it builds on her past professional experiences, and what she’s excited to accomplish at Fourth Economy. Eve also recently relocated to Chicago after stints living in Los Angeles and New York, so we asked to hear her favorite aspects of each of these iconic cities.
You are Fourth Economy’s Senior Consultant for Economic Development. What does that entail? What does your work look like on any given day?
In my role at Fourth Economy, I wear a number of hats — leading client projects and the internal teams that contribute to them, exploring new business development opportunities, supporting other staff members in their professional growth, and more generally collaborating with the team in pursuit of the firm’s growth and ability to achieve its mission. On a typical day, I oscillate between different project and management priorities, attending meetings, reviewing draft deliverables, communicating with clients, and checking in with different project teams. Of course, there is always time for chatting with team members, whether about work or, more often than not, about what we’ve been cooking or the latest mayhem our pets have been causing.
One of your first professional roles was Manager of Development and Public Affairs at Pershing Square Renew, the public-private partnership tasked with revitalizing Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles. What do you look back on as the most important economic development lesson you learned from that experience?
Working on the revitalization of Pershing Square was what led me to a career in community and economic development, urban policy and planning, and, overall, trying to make public benefit projects a reality. I saw firsthand how difficult it is to make a complex public-private partnership actually work; bringing together different types of stakeholders, aligning their goals, securing the funding, and pushing the needle forward to make the vision a reality is incredibly challenging. Combining local knowledge with best practices I learned from those successful partnerships is now what I do for clients almost 10 years later
Prior to joining Fourth Economy, you were a Senior Analyst at James Lima Planning + Development, an NYC-based economics and development firm. What was the most meaningful project you worked on there?
I collaborated on so many meaningful projects! JLP+D and Fourth Economy share the same ultimate goal — harnessing community and economic development to create greater accessibility and equity in the communities where we work. One of my favorite projects at JLP+D was with a land trust in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that was working to protect a group of environmentally vulnerable and severely impoverished neighborhoods along the Martín Peña channel. We worked with the land trust and local residents to create an affordable housing development plan for single and multifamily units that would be resilient, accessible, and connected to social infrastructure. Building even one of these units would mean ensuring that one family has a safe and comfortable place to call home.
What do you hope to accomplish with Fourth Economy this year?
2023 is already off to a great start with Fourth Economy! We have a lot of really interesting projects and fantastic clients, and our team is looking to continue growing. I would like to start doing more work and engagement with my new city, Chicago, as the year progresses. What better way to get to know my new home than to build relationships and work with communities to help them achieve their goals?
You have lived in Los Angeles, New York, and now Chicago – three of the largest and most vibrant cities in the United States. If you could take your favorite parts of each and combine them, what would that new city be like?
Three amazing cities, each with such a unique culture and urban landscape! Certainly I’d take the weather and outdoor mindset of LA — I am not a cold weather gal, and I long for the 70 degree beach or hike days in January that I used to have! New York is so special to me because it’s where the majority of my family and close friends live. Also the transit! For all of its transit-related issues, NYC is still the most connected and accessible city I’ve lived in. Chicagoans really use public space; there are these wide boulevards in some parts of the city that have grassy areas on either side. In other cities, these would go untouched, but in Chicago, people use them as their backyards: setting up hammocks and picnics, playing with dogs, having children’s birthday parties… It’s a really lovely sight to behold in the warmer months. And, of course, the most important category of all: food. LA wins hands down for Mexican food; I dream of Sonoratown’s delicious tortillas. NYC has Chinese food on lock; looking at Shu Jiao Fu Zhou and many others. And Chicago has the best burgers around; Scofflaw is my current favorite, but every new restaurant I go to claims to have the best burger in the city, so that may change.