Tom joined Millennia Consulting following 30 years of work in neighborhood development, public policy, and community organizing. His services include community consultation and planning, leadership development, facilitation, strategic planning, and program/policy development.
In his work with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the nation’s oldest and largest network of broad based community organizations, he worked with religious congregations, unions, and non-profit organizations to build their internal leadership capacity and shape successful campaigns in health care expansion, education reform, and affordable housing. Tom led the project planning team that created Waukegan to College, a successful college readiness program in Lake County. He designed and led a leadership development program for the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living (INCIL) and continues to work with the state’s disability community.
Tom has coached or mentored clergy and lay leaders from Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim congregations both individually and in learning circles. For his work with the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview he was given their 2013 Community Service Award. He provided training and mentoring to staff and leaders of the Berlin-based German Institute for Community Organizing as Checkpoint Charlie Foundation’s Alinsky Fellow from 2000 to 2013. He developed and co-taught “Community Organizing for Missional Living” with Seabury Western Theological Seminary and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
As a consultant, he has been integrally involved in the creation of the Partnership for Resilience, a cross-sector effort to address childhood trauma, access to primary care and family engagement in the southern suburbs of Cook County, Illinois. He has worked with Catholic Relief Services, Episcopal Charities and Community Services, Generation All, and the Wood Fund of Chicago on a range of strategic planning and community engagement initatives.
Tom says, “Strengthening civil society institutions to help them achieve their missions is a passion for me. This requires both recovering old skills – particularly listening to constituents and developing leaders – and acquiring new capacities.”
Lenz holds a Masters in Urban Planning and Policy (MUPP) from University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame. He has written for Social Policy, Shelterforce, and the Public Administration Review.
Tom was a Rotary Fellow in Berlin, Germany in the late 1970s and has visited it almost 20 times since then. “I love Berlin like I love Chicago. Both experienced phenomenal growth in the 19th century and were hotbeds of 20th Century architecture and culture. Both cities have struggled with being divided – Berlin by a physical wall, Chicago by race. Nothing gives me a jolt of energy like spending time in Berlin.”