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John Pady wins Wipfli’s 2024 Innovation Excellence Award

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Wipfli LLP, a top 20 national advisory and accounting firm, is pleased to announce that John Pady, chief program and expansion officer of the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, Inc. (CEDA), is the winner of Wipfli’s 2024 Innovation Excellence Award in recognition of his multifaceted approach to community action in the Chicago area where he has revolutionized weatherization and energy efficiency initiatives.

Pady was presented with the $20,000 award for his agency on July 10 in Las Vegas during the opening session of Wipfli’s 2024 Stronger to Serve conference. The conference features tailored training for leaders and staff of federally funded nonprofits and human services agencies.

CEDA is one of the largest private nonprofit community action agencies in the country, serving residents throughout Cook County, Illinois. It serves more than 300,000 people and more than 150,000 households every year.

Colleagues said Pady witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects of inefficient housing, inequitable access to resources and limited opportunities for youth and was inspired to act.

Pady has demonstrated exceptional innovation in both his organization and the broader community through his visionary leadership in creating the Affordable Housing Options LLC. The groundbreaking initiative addresses a critical need identified in the community needs assessment by providing a pathway for nearly 250 families transitioning from subsidized housing to becoming first-time homeowners.

He’s integrated cutting-edge technologies and sustainable practices into the housing programs CEDA provides to help ensure tangible impact and long-term viability. Moreover, his nominators said his commitment to advancing equity is evident in his inclusive leadership style and programs that prioritize marginalized communities, fostering empowerment and opportunity.

“Driven by his personal mission, John strategically located the state-of-the-art CEDA Building Science and Weatherization Training Center just minutes from where he grew up,” explained a nominator. “By bringing this valuable resource to a historically disinvested community that has long suffered from a lack of opportunities, John is directly addressing the challenges he witnessed and experienced in his youth. The training center serves as a beacon of hope, providing individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to secure meaningful employment and improve their lives.”

Not only does he focus his efforts on efficient, sustainable housing for low-income families but he has also worked with the Illinois Office of the Governor to meet and exceed the goal of providing EV charging stations in disadvantaged communities, sustaining employment in minority-owned businesses by supporting the location of EV stations within those communities.

The Innovation Excellence Award was established in 2018 to honor the late Evelyn Wright Moore, a Head Start leader from Angleton, Texas, who attended 16 Wipfli national training conferences until her passing in 2017.

Learn more about the services Wipfli provides for nonprofits and government-funded agencies.