About Commissioner Frank Avila
Environmentalist, Professional Engineer, and Professional Land Surveyor, Commissioner Frank Avila was elected to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) Board of Commissioners in 2002 and re-elected in 2008 and 2014. One of his first jobs out of engineering school was at the MWRD, where he was inspired by the ambitious civil engineering projects that improved the health and environment of the greater Chicago area. Commissioner Avila started his own engineering company, Avila & Associates, Inc. but never forgot his early formative experiences working for the MWRD. After Commissioner Avila sold his successful engineering company, he decided to lead a life of public service and return to the agency that started his career.
Commissioner Frank Avila drives the MWRD to stay at the forefront of fiscally sound and environmentally forward policy. As Chairman of Finance, he ensures the MWRD maintains AAA/AA+ bond ratings, undertakes pension reform, creates local jobs and adds billions to the local economy. He guides the MWRD to be a leader in transforming stormwater management culture through the integration of green with gray infrastructure, flood-prone property acquisitions, regulation of development, and numerous regional and local flood control projects. He understands the vital role of pipes and ambitious reservoirs, but also the important role dynamic green infrastructure now plays with the growing number of storm events.
Commissioner Frank Avila is a strong believer in preventive health for our bodies and the environment. After a diagnosis of prostate cancer, he adopted a vegan lifestyle and began to research a wider range of environmental issues including the health impacts of pharmaceuticals, personal care products, PFAS, and other emerging contaminants and their effects on our bodies, our land, and our waterways. Commissioner Frank Avila advanced a policy to restrict the use of toxic pesticides that pose a threat to human health and the environment from being used on MWRD land, as well as encouraged the MWRD to purchase and utilize more green and recycled products
Today the MWRD strives to be an anchor of innovation that prioritizes clean water, nature-based solutions, watershed-based planning, resource recovery, energy conservation, community engagement, and good union jobs. Commissioner Frank Avila has been an important part of this evolution. He advocated the MWRD to examine its energy use, reduce its carbon footprint, and exploit its biogas excess. Approximately, 30-35% of the MWRD’s total energy needs are through renewable energy sources of biogas and hydroelectricity at the Lockport Powerhouse. He plans to work with the MWRD to increase its utilization of renewable energy and be a proactive leader in addressing climate change.
Commissioner Frank Avila pressed for the MWRD to change its investment policy to consider Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors when evaluating MWRD investments. As an agency that works to protect health and the environment, it is important to invest in companies that prioritize good environmental and social business practices, while also protecting public funds against risk. Traveling throughout Cook County, he educates communities about the MWRD and how to be good stewards of the environment and our health. His goal is to work together with elected officials, municipalities, private entities, community groups, and citizens to build a healthy, resilient Cook County.
Born and raised on the near west side of Chicago, Commissioner Frank Avila has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Science in Finance from the University of Arizona, Tucson. With many years of experience as a Professional Engineer and Land Surveyor in the state of Illinois, he understands the technical, environmental, and financial aspects of MWRD projects.
Commissioner Frank Avila received the Water Environment Federation (WEF) 2015 Public Officials Award and the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization’s 2015 Environmental Justice Champion Award. From the Illinois section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, he received the Citizen Engineer of the year 2012 Award. He also received the 2013 Presidents Award from the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers for his work to protect the health and safety of the public and protect the quality of water in the Chicago area waterways. A dedicated public servant, Commissioner Avila and his wife, Sharilyn, have 3 children and 3 grandchildren.
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Please contact Frank with any questions, comments, or concerns or if you wish to collaborate or share information. Frank looks forward to continuing to work together with other environmentalists, scientists, and community groups to ensure the integrity of the Chicago area waterways.