Brad Leibov

President and CEO

Brad brings a broad perspective on the Chicago region’s major environmental and sustainable food challenges as the Liberty Prairie Foundation’s President and CEO. Brad’s primary focus areas include environmental policy, regional food systems, conservation finance, and social entrepreneurship.  

Since joining the Foundation, Brad has led the Foundation’s efforts to advance the supply of sustainable local and regional food. In 2012, he participated in the development of the Lake County Sustainable Local Food report which identified land access as a major barrier to growing the supply of local food in Lake County. Subsequently, he co-chaired the Lake County Local Food Task Force and negotiated the first lease for long-term land access on public land with a local land trust and the Lake County Forest Preserve District, resulting in the launch of the first certified organic farm in Libertyville. In 2014, the Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust recognized this pioneering work and awarded the Foundation $1,000,000 to support a multi-year project with Openlands to advance land access for sustainable local food on a regional scale on both private and public lands.

Brad has also led the Foundation’s engagement in Liberty Prairie Reserve, and helped to create a new Master Plan in 2013 in collaboration with major public and private landowners, civic, and environmental organizations. Since the Reserve’s establishment, the Foundation has served as a visionary, convener, and catalyst in the Reserve, resulting in over $100 million invested by public, private, and philanthropic interests and the protection of over 3,400 acres of natural areas and farmland in the midst of a rapidly growing Lake County.

Brad served in a leadership positon with the Illinois Toll Highway Authority’s proposed Route 53/120 extension through Lake County, which would run adjacent to the Foundation’s 100-acre certified organic farm and the Liberty Prairie Reserve. In 2014 and 2015, Brad served on the Blue Ribbon Advisory Council Finance and Land Use Committees. While serving as Chair of the Finance Committee’s Environmental Restoration and Stewardship Fund committee, he drafted recommendations for the use and governance of a $81,000,000 project fund to protect additional natural resources and farmland, and mitigate unintended environmental consequences of the proposed roadway over a period of 50 years. He also served as co-chair of the Land Use Committee’s Open Space and Natural Resources committee. Brad supported the Finance Committee’s financial recommendations, and joined other environmental leaders in opposing the Land Use Committee’s final Corridor Land Use Strategy due to its insufficient implementation strategy and absence of binding land use commitments.

Brad currently serves as the Co-Chair of Fresh Taste, a funder’s collaborative of twelve Chicago region foundations working together to relocalize the Chicago foodshed and improve equity of access to good food. He is also a board member of the Liberty Prairie Foundation, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF), Farm and Agriculture for Illinois (FARM Illinois), and the Chicago Wilderness Executive Council.

Brad has an extensive background in community revitalization and land use planning. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2011, Brad was a Principal of Terra Firma Co. While at Terra Firma, he co-developed Chicago’s first LEED® certified mixed-use, transit-oriented building outside of the central business district. Previously, Brad founded and served as the President of New Chicago Fund, a consulting firm that developed community development strategies for urban neighborhoods. Under his direction, New Chicago Fund became the leading Business Improvement District planning firm in Chicago by establishing over $20 million in dedicated funding for local economic development programs in underserved, industrial, or emerging retail districts. Prior to New Chicago Fund, he served as the Executive Director of the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce, where he helped establish Lincoln Square as one of Chicago’s most desirable retail destinations by facilitating investments of more than $15 million in private and public funds and recruiting a broad array of small shops, boutiques, restaurants, and outdoor cafes. He also founded the Lincoln Square Foundation to support art and cultural initiatives in the neighborhood. He began his career on Chicago’s South Side, where he helped to create and manage a nationally recognized job readiness program that resulted in employment and training opportunities for over 1,400 inner‐city participants.

Brad earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy, and is a member of Lambda Alpha International, the honorary society for the advancement of land economics.

Brad can be reached at brad(at)libertyprairie.org or 847-548-4062 x16. His office is located at the Yellow Farmhouse.