Daniel “Pogo” Pogorzelski’s long career in public service connects Chicago’s robust tradition of civic activism, economic development, environmental action, empowering the arts, and community organizing. The son of immigrants, his passion to link people with resources, especially with communities for whom English is a second language, has been a constant in his wide-ranging record of volunteerism. Dan’s passion for communication is evident in his devotion to making people aware of the dangers climate change poses to all of us.
As the former executive director of the local chamber of commerce in the Chicago neighborhood of Avondale, Dan worked to not only utilize the arts as an economic engine to assist local business, he helped foster a local movement by residents to beautify the neighborhood. During Dan’s tenure as chamber ED, Avondale became part of the city’s neighborhood tour program run by the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, helping to generate revenue for local mom-and-pop business owners. Partnering with organizations such as the Northwest Arts Connection and Arts Alive Chicago, festivals such as the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, the Avondale Restaurant Crawl, as well as A Day in Avondale, brought media attention to the vicinity’s cultural revival. The capstone of this effort was the successful creation of a community space which doubles as a piece of green infrastructure to capture rainwater. Dan’s moniker as the “unofficial Mayor of Avondale” is a nickname he holds exceptional pride in.
The imprint of Dan’s commitment to community engagement through the arts can be seen throughout the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Dan has played a role in projects in West Englewood, Bridgeport, Forest Glen, Dunning, Portage Park, Brighton Park, and West Town, some of which were featured in the “Art in Chicago Neighborhoods” booklet published by the City of Chicago for the Year of Public Art. His efforts in this sector continue into the present as a board member of the Logan Square Chamber of Arts, the first organization of its kind created in Chicago.
Transitioning to government, Dan has worked in the offices of 38th Ward Alderman Tim Cullerton as well as State Senator Robert F. Martwick Jr while he was in the Illinois House. Since 2018, Dan has been with the office of Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs in Civic Engagement, where his responsibility is to connect Illinoisans with the services and programs they offer. Dan’s work in journalism and communications has consistently been an asset in these roles. As the coauthor of 4 books on different neighborhoods of Chicago, Dan has collaborated with reporters, TV producers, an Oscar-nominated film director, and was even sought out to assist on a media project by a partner of the US State Department.
Since beginning in politics while an organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers union, Dan has worked in over 40 political campaigns over the past 12 years. He serves as Vice-President of the 38th Ward Democrats. Dan has also been involved with the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council and is Co-Chair of the Diversity Subcommittee of the Community Outreach Committee of the Cook County Democratic Party. Dan is also a member of the DRIVE Committee for Teamsters Local 916.