Chicago Sister Cities International – Making Friends, Helping Others

Whether serving on the Loyola University Chicago Board of Trustees or Mayor Richard M. Daley’s 21st Century Leadership Council, Smita Shah has a passion for civic leadership in Chicago, IL. Serving as the committee chair for Delhi, India, in Chicago Sister Cities International, Smita Shah works to encourage economic and cultural exchanges between the two cities. In 2003 and 2005, she led trade missions for the organization from Chicago, IL, to India.

Chicago Sister Cities International was established in 1960 by Mayor Richard J. Daley, when the city entered into a Sister Cities agreement with Warsaw, Poland. Today, the organization has similar agreements promoting international business development and friendship with nearly 30 cities worldwide. Member cities range from Belgrade and Paris to Lahore and Shanghai. Some of the humanitarian efforts undertaken by Chicago Sister Cities International include supporting groups like UNICEF and donating hearing aids worth more than $500,000 to cities in Morocco and Jordan. Through its continuing efforts, Chicago Sister Cities International is the most active organization of its kind in the world.


Smita Shah – The Chicago Plan Commission

A business professional based in Chicago, IL, Smita Shah received her bachelor of science in civil engineering from Northwestern University and her master of science in civil and environmental engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since 2009, Smita Shah has used her knowledge of and passion for civil engineering to serve as the vice-chair of the Chicago Plan Commission, a group ensuring that proposed uses for public lands benefit the city’s long-term goals.

First created in 1909 to implement the “Plan of Chicago,” a series of citywide improvements proposed by architects Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett, the Chicago Plan Commission oversaw such changes as wider streets, new railroad facilities, and additional civic buildings. The commission is now concerned with the development of city districts and other long-term community plans. Supervised by the Land Use Planning and Policy Division of Chicago, IL, it also approves ordinances and potential sales of city-owned land. From new parks to renovations of public buildings, the Chicago Plan Commission has a wide-ranging impact on city life.

Ellis Island Medal of Honor Given for Exemplary Service by Minorities

Smita Shah of Chicago, IL, currently serves as president and CEO of the engineering and construction management firm. Throughout her life, Smita Shah has demonstrated a strong commitment to public service, having served as an intern in the White House and as chair of the Delhi-Chicago Sister City committee. In 2007, Ms. Shah was presented with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in recognition of her efforts to support cultural connections between the U.S. and India.

Sponsored by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), the Ellis Island Medal of Honor is awarded to influential American citizens who have made notable contributions to American society and distinguished themselves as leaders within their own ethnic group. The Medal of Honor is intended to honor the diversity of individuals who have enriched America’s cultural heritage. Past recipients of the award include six U.S. Presidents, various Nobel Prize winners, and other well-known leaders in the areas of art, education, government, and sports. The most recent Ellis Island Medal of Honor was awarded in 2013 to David Merage, the creator of Hot Pockets snack foods, in recognition of his nonprofit foundations community development and education work in Israel and the United States.