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Tom Tresser


Adjunct Instructor

Programs/Classes Taught:

PPA 502 – Public Policy Analysis

Areas of Expertise:

Community organizing, social change strategy, leadership and social change, civic engagement, nonprofit policy formulation and advocacy, creativity and social change, civic innovation, peer-to-peer civic journalism, popular education around public policy, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) programming


Tom Tresser (  is a civic educator and public defender. His first voter registration campaign was in 1972. In 2008 he was a co-founder of Protect Our Parks (, a neighborhood effort to stop the privatization of public space in Chicago. He was a lead organizer for No Games Chicago (, an all-volunteer grassroots effort that opposed Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid.  Tom co-founded The CivicLabin 2015 a co-working space where activists, educators, coders and designers came to work, collaborate, teach, and build tools for civic engagement. Located in Chicago’s West Loop. He is the lead organizer for the TIF Illumination Project ( that is investigating and explaining the impacts of Tax Increment Financing districts on a community-by-community basis. Tom is the organizer and editor for Chicago Is Not Broke. Funding the City We Deserve, which describes $5 billion in sustainable and progressive revenue solutions for the city ( Since 2008 Tom has been invited to present at over 150 community meetings and public forums. Tom has designed and taught classes on community organizing, nonprofit management and advocacy, leadership for social change, arts and social change, and creativity and business for a number of local universities.


B.S., Antioch College
M.S., Spertus College
Certificate in Nonprofit Management, Roosevelt University
Certificate in Business Management, University of Chicago School of Business

Research and Interests:

I am interested in the “ladder of engagement” – that is, how to move people from being asleep and disinterested and unengaged to become leaders in and makers of public life. My work blends the arts and creativity with investigative journalism, new media technology and old school community organizing to reveal and explain public policy and to motivate and equip our neighbors to become active and effective players in public life. Over the past ten years I’ve done extensive research into the forces behind privatization, the Olympic movement, tax increment financing, space making, the maker/hacker space movement, crowdfunding and civic metrics.

Contact Information:

Tom Tresser

NLU email:
Personal web site:

Current civic work:

The CivicLab:

The TIF Illumination Project:

The “Chicago Is Not Broke” Book Project:

The POWER Institute:

Past civic work: No Games Chicago:

Protect Our Parks:


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
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    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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