Martin Sorge, Executive Director
Martin joins Uptown United and Business Partners by way of the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce (LPCC). As the Director of Community Development, Martin oversaw LPCC’s economic development and business attraction efforts, administered two Special Service Areas, collaborated on an organizational rebranding and strategic planning process, and has led the effort to launch a Lincoln Avenue Corridor Plan–all in addition to working alongside hundreds of business owners, neighborhood institutions, and community stakeholders.
From 2011-2014, Martin was with the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies (BALLE), a national network of visionary local economy and community leaders. As Program Manager, Martin built and maintained relationships with a coalition of over 150 business networks, economic development organizations, trade associations, foundations and other stakeholders, representing over 80,000 small business across the nation.
Martin lives in the 48th Ward and, having first landed in Uptown moving to Chicago, has deep love for the neighborhood. Martin holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Indiana University and a master of public affairs in economic development and public policy analysis from Indiana University’s School for Public and Environmental Affairs. Martin is passionate about building vibrant, sustainable neighborhoods through smart economic and community development. Email Martin.
Jan Graves, Office Manager
Jan returns to Uptown United as a part-time office manager, having served as an interim director in 2010. On several occasions during the past 10 years, Jan also served as interim director of Business Partners, The Chamber for Uptown during their staffing changes. She has a wide range of creative and administrative skills including graphic design, project management, and grant writing that she also employs in her management position at the Redtwist Theatre in Edgewater. Email Jan.
John Blick, Director of Business Services
John served as the Executive Director of the Old Town Merchants and Residents Association for five years and comes highly recommended from former board members, local aldermen, and partners in the community. While there, he re-established important relationships with local businesses, grew membership tremendously, oversaw the establishment of the Old Town Special Service Area, ran many neighborhood events, and directed a major rebranding and advertising campaign. Most recently, John was a consultant for PLACE Consulting. He is also very active in Chicago theatre. Email John.
Greg Carroll, Director of Partnerships and Events
Greg Carroll joins Uptown United after serving as Interim Executive Director for Business Partners, The Chamber for Uptown since August 2015, where he established strong relationships with Uptown’s business community, non-profit organizations and community groups. For over 15 years, Greg has worked alongside both nonprofit and corporate partners to build relationships and grow events. Most notably, he has worked at AmeriCorps, City Year, and the Carole Robertson Center for Learning. For eight years, Greg held the position of Community Relations Manager at CME Group.
Greg received his first introduction to the Uptown neighborhood in 1993 through volunteering at local Uptown non-profits: Christopher House, Sarah’s Circle, and Inspiration Café. The experience he gained volunteering in Uptown laid the foundation for his continued career and desire to pursue a path of community service and enriching the lives of others. From 2012 – 2014, Greg broadened his experiences by living and teaching English in South Korea. He brings a breadth of experience in relationship building and event management to the new role of Director of Partnerships and Events.
Greg is a resident of the 46th ward and is excited to be a part of the progress being made in the Uptown community. Email Greg.
Hac Tran, Communications Manager
Hac is an urban planner and community development professional born in Chicago. He is co-founder of Axis Lab, a community centered art, food, and design studio based in on Argyle Street in Uptown. His previous experience includes working in youth development with Americorps Jumpstart and America Reads, in capacity building and sustainable development in Vietnam with Save the Children and Global Village Foundation, and in human services with various community based organizations in Uptown. Hac Tran holds a BA in Political Science from DePaul University, and a Masters in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and traveling. Email Hac.
Justin Weidl, Business District Manager
With over 10 years of landscape architecture and urban planning experience in the Chicago area, as well as other cities throughout the Midwest, Justin brings critical thought and design leadership to Uptown United. Before joining Uptown United, he worked at the Lakota Group in Chicago as a Senior Associate providing services in planning, urban design, landscape architecture, and community engagement. During his five years at Lakota, he managed a diverse range of projects, including regional land use plans, downtown vision plans, mixed-use developments, transit-oriented developments, streetscape designs, and signage and branding systems. Justin is also a skilled facilitator of community outreach events designed to solicit public input and encourage participation.
Through his experience with both public and private sector clients, Justin has developed a deep admiration and respect for the passion that residents hold for their communities as well as the vision that many development companies have for their projects within those communities. Serving this diverse range of stakeholders has helped to inform and enrich his innate ability to build consensus and define common goals.
Justin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in landscape architecture and a Master of Science degree of city and regional planning, both from The Ohio State University. His professional experience began in Columbus, Ohio, working on various improvement plans in and around the city, focusing on how a neighborhood could spur positive, thoughtful growth through creative and innovative strategies.
Residents of Uptown since 2010, and parents in Uptown since 2013, Justin and his wife have been involved in organizing neighborhood enhancement efforts such as the Sunnyside Mall Committee and Uptown Parents’ Facebook group. Justin’s decision to live in Uptown came with an intentional vision of serving his neighbors and enhancing the unique qualities that make Uptown so special. He can think of no better way to continue working towards that vision than by joining Uptown United and serving the community he loves and calls home. Email Justin.
Leyla Bauer, Program Manager
Leyla Bauer is an Uptown local with a passion for Chicago history. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with degrees in Music Composition and Audio Design and Production, and still plays the cello regularly. With a background in events and tourism from working for the Chicago Theatre, Atlas Obscura, as a freelance guide, and more, she has worked with people from all over the world to showcase the city’s history. She loves the diversity and vibrant history of the Uptown and always advocates for people to come visit and explore the neighborhood, and has volunteered in the past for both Treehouse Cats and the South-East Asian Center. In her free time, you can find her researching movie palaces, taking flying trapeze classes, or spending time at home with her cats. Email Leyla.