Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA) Board of Directors recently voted to welcome three Beverly/Morgan Park residents to join them as Board members. Each of these people brings to BAPA a wealth of professional experience, a deep connection to our community and a heartfelt commitment to serving our neighbors by serving BAPA.
Michele Pettiford didn’t know much about Beverly/Morgan Park when she and her husband Jeff began driving in from downtown to visit Jeff’s grandmother at Washington and Jane Smith Home, now Smith Village.
“From the moment we started our journey to Beverly, you could see and feel the sense of community and love. People we didn’t even know would wave at us as we were passing by. We would see children outside playing with friends and neighbors chatting with each other. It felt like home,” Pettiford said.
Fifteen years ago, the she and Jeff came to Beverly/Morgan Park to stay. “Logistically it was ideal being close to the train and to both airports as Jeff travels a lot for work. For me it was the unique architecture, the history of the neighborhood, and most importantly, the sense of community.”
The Pettifords live in North Beverly and their children, Burk, 12 and Francesca, 9, attend Christ the King School. Jeff just finished his last year on the Christ the King School Board, and currently serves on boards that benefit Mercy Home and Blue Cap. Michele is on the Board of Directors of A New Direction, and is a member of two local business associations, Beverly Improvement Association, and the BAPA Home Tour Committee. She is a local real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. The family is active with the Christ the King parish and the community. “We have our Beverly community where we share in the joys, trials, and everyday life of all who live here, and we have our CK parish community where we live, pray and provide service to others,” Pettiford said.
“I decided to join the BAPA Board, because it was another way to get directly involved with the community. I see BAPA as a Beverly/Morgan Park hub, providing interesting, insightful, and fun programs, resources about local businesses, and even being a welcoming band wagon for new residents,” she said. “BAPA is constantly looking beyond today and how to best impact the future viability of our neighborhood.”
Pettiford looks forward to serving on BAPA’s Housing Committee and being a
local real estate liaison regarding current market conditions, housing needs in the area, and what draws people to Beverly/Morgan Park.
“My heart is the BAPA Home Tour. I’ve been privileged to be a part of one of the most talented and efficiently run divisions of BAPA. Pettiford said. “The people who choose to open their homes for the Tour truly provide a gift to our entire neighborhood. That gift is an important window into where we live.”
Bill Halvorsen grew up at 103rd and Oakley and attended the Castle preschool, Sutherland School and Morgan Park High School. He moved away in the 1980s, and returned in 2005 with his wife Aileen and two-year old twin sons. “We were bursting out of our small condo in the North Center neighborhood,” Bill recalled. His grandmother was in the process of selling her home in North Beverly, so Bill and Aileen made an offer and updated the house a bit before moving in. “We moved here initially because it was affordable, and to have more space, and a yard and be close to the Rock Island. But we stayed because of the wonderful friends and neighbors we met!”
Aileen, a long-time teacher, grew up in central Illinois. The Halvorsens have three teenage sons in CPS schools — Whitney Young and Keller. As a family, they enjoy family road trips, and exploring wherever they go. “During this current quarantine, you will find us playing tons of card games, puzzles, and taking family walks around the neighborhood every afternoon.”
Halvorsen has worked in the health insurance industry for 25 years. “My experience with corporate planning, strategy and project management will hopefully be an asset to the work that BAPA is doing in the 19th ward,” he said. “Community-building is a passion, and I look forward to continuing it with the BAPA team. . . I’d love to see how we can partner with and provide more support for our local business owners and business corridors.”
A long-time runner, Halvorsen said he loves the recent addition of the post-race festival to the Ridge Run and he thinks it’s great to see how many kids are running with school teams. “I’ve enjoyed a number of fun BAPA events over the years and look forward to helping support them in the future.”
Halvorsen serves as treasurer for the Beverly Improvement Association (BIA) and helps with or participates in BIA events such as Fall Fest, community bike rides, and spring Clean & Green. He is also a new board member with the Beverly Area Arts Alliance after being a long-time volunteer. Through The Alliance he supports the Beverly Art Walk, the Frunchroom reader series, and a variety of other music and art-related events in the neighborhood.
Don Larisey is a native South Sider; he grew up in West Lawn and graduated from St. Rita High School. He and his wife Ashley, a native of Kansas, live in West Beverly/St. John Fisher Parish, with their children Ava, a student at Sutherland Elementary School, and Paddy, 3, a Castle Preschool student.
Larisey has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years, and decided to move here because of connection and community.
“The initial draw to the neighborhood for us was family and friends, which continues to grow being an Irish Catholic family,” Larisey’s parents grew up in Beverly/Morgan Park and he knew a lot of people who were coming home to the neighborhood to raise their families.
“My wife and I began to meet more families, appreciate the growing business community and strong schools and parishes. Beverly is a special place that has a great mix of culture and neighborhood pride and a strong sense of support for the community.”
Larisey is Director of Continuous Improvement for Fortune Fish & Gourmet, one of the largest seafood and gourmet distributors in the Midwest. Ashley, a Speech Pathologist, works at a local school district and St. Xavier University.
A volunteer on the Southside Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, Larisey chairs the annual Parade Golf Outing at Ridge Country Club. His experience in fundraising, consulting, project management and budgeting will be beneficial to continue building on BAPA’s strong programs. “I feel I can help BAPA build additional partnerships and neighbor support for both established events and new programs and community groups. I’m excited to connect the business programs and look into developing a mentoring program for younger people in our neighborhood.”
Larisey’s goals for BAPA employ the importance of connection that he sought when choosing to make his home in Beverly/Morgan Park. “I would like to help BAPA continue its growth and relationships with the many groups and neighbors to enhance our community events and programs.”