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Deryl Mckissack, a force in D.C. and Chicago./photo hand-out 0

Project manager of African American museum is a force in Chicago, too

October 9th, 2016

The project manager of the just-opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., is the force behind building projects all over Chicago, including Navy Pier.

It’s all about “carrying out what the client envisions,” says Deryl McKissack, who was in Chicago last week for meetings around town.

McKissack & McKissack is based in D.C. and has had a Chicago office for nearly 20 years. It’s for years overseen building projects for Chicago Public Schools. More recently, the firm helped oversee work on the $251 million new Malcom X College and is managing some of the $500 million McCormick Place expansion, including for the new Event Center and the new Marriott Marquis hotel. The firm also oversaw the Ferris Wheel re-do at Navy Pier.

McKissack also has a home in Chicago. She counts health-care executive Eric Whitaker and his wife, Cheryl Whitaker, CEO NextLevel Health Partners, as close friends, along with Seaway Bank Chairman Veranda Dickens and Midway Broadcasting Chairman Melody Spann-Cooper.

In Washington, the firm worked on the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial and on the upgrades for the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.

McKissack is a descendant of slaves, so the work on the African American history museum was especially personal. “I saw the museum in several different stages of construction, but it didn’t come to life for me until I saw the exhibits,” she says. “You start out with this lonely feeling and when you leave, you feel inspired.”


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