Chicago Transit Authority

Chicago's chief small business officer hopes to make grandmother proud

Chicago's chief small business officer hopes to make grandmother proud

Kenya Merritt, Chicago’s chief small business officer, comes by her love of this city honestly.

She grew up on the West Side, daughter of a CTA bus driver and granddaughter of 94-year-old Dorothy Anderson, who moved to Chicago from Tupelo, Miss. in 1965 and still resides in North Lawndale. As a child, Merritt witnessed how energized her own family was after attending a rally held by Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor. She was 6.

“(My) mom said I wanted to donate the money from my piggy bank to his campaign,” said Merritt, 42, who now lives in the Austin neighborhood with her 15-year-old son, Caleb Dunson.

After 18 years in other city departments, Merritt...

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