Sara Dinges

Senior Manager

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Sara is a Senior Manager based in Next Street’s Chicago office. For fifteen years, Sara has worked alongside small business owners, elected officials and community and institutional stakeholders in the areas of economic development, policy and non-profit management. She has served in executive leadership roles in Chicago’s Uptown and Andersonville communities as well as Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

In these roles, she built dynamic programming for over 2,000 small business owners and has leveraged public and private investment to bring meaningful change through infrastructure projects, neighborhood campaigns and community engagement strategies. In Andersonville, Sara has been a leader in building an ecosystem with local, independent business ownership at the center. Her contributions have helped maintain Andersonville’s position as a pioneer and leader in localism and sustainability.

Through her work in local government, Sara has provided technical assistance to small business owners ranging from zoning to start-up financing; has worked on housing issues focused on affordable housing legislation; and has run communications for an elected official’s office. She has a multi-faceted understanding of government and its impact on the communities it serves. Sara has served on the City of Chicago’s Retail and Accessibility Task Force, the Mayor’s Reopening Task Force, as a board member for Local First Chicago and Chicago Market, and as the 10th District representative for the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues. Sara earned a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and a minor in Italian from the University of Pittsburgh.

On working at Next Street

“Having worked in local economic development and government, I believe building an inclusive economy requires innovation, collaboration and strategic tools. Next Street’s work to deliver these in order to drive equitable small business growth is both inspiring and critical to a stronger economy for all.”

Outside of Next Street

When she is not at work, Sara can be found spending time with her kids, walking Chicago’s Lake Michigan shores, practicing Italian, visting her hometahn Pittsburgh, or trying new local restaurants with her spouse.

 

Get to know Sara

  • Languages: Italian