David Villalobos


My name is David Villalobos. I'm from Illinois. I go to the University of Illinois at Chicago where I am a Masters of Public Administration candidate.

What sustainability, energy, and community issues are important to you?

My hometown of Waukegan, has been through nearly a century of industrial pollution. Waukegan is home to five USEPA Superfund sites, and may potentially have more unidentified. Waukegan has been trying to recover from this legacy of industrial pollution. I have spent over half a decade with follow Waukeganites, and others from across the state, to transition Waukegan into the bright future of sustainable energy. In trying to accomplish this goal, I have learned that environmental justice is part of this web of injustice that impacts education, economics, housing, job opportunities, and other sectors of society.

What exciting projects/research are you working on now?

I have been working with a local organization named Clean Power Lake County for over five years on getting a retirement date and transition plan for the local coal-burning power plant within Waukegan. We have been working with a state-wide coalition that recently got the Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act passed which will make Illinois one of the strongest states regarding coal ash regulation. The next big legislation we are working to get passed is the Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB2132 & HB3624). This legislation puts Illinois on the path to 100% renewable energy while expanding the clean energy economy and job growth in an equitable manner.

What are your plans for the next five years?

I plan on obtaining my MPA in 2021, and applying for a position in Waukegan’s government as a City Manager. Sounds simple enough. However, what I am proposing to do is start a local government revolution. Since, Waukegan has not had a City Manager form of government. 

What made you want to apply to SISE?

I have been learning about the sustainability sector very piecemeal, and feel this is an opportunity to coalesce my ideas into actionable tasks that can be implemented in Waukegan. I believe Waukegan’s economic, environmental, and social future can be positively influenced by the sustainable energy sector. I wish to help pull Waukegan out of its history of industrial pollution and into the bright future of sustainable energy making it the proud seat of Lake County, IL.

What are you most looking forward to doing in Chicago?

I live an hour train ride north of Chicago and have been to various parts of the city. I have not explored much around the campus of UIC, so I am looking forward to seeing what the neighborhood is like. 

Do you like Cats? If not, are you willing to learn to like cats?

Yes, I like cats. I have had cats as pets for most of my life. My cat is 10 years old with a black and white fur pattern. Here is a picture of her being adorable!