Jim LAW   罗友民

The Garfield Park
Conservatory Alliance


Since July 2016, I have been the President of the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, a position that works closely with the Chicago Park District to produce interpretive public programming around the Conservatory’s historic plant collection for the benefit of citywide and West Side residents, as well as out-of-town visitors. 

My public service career began in 1990 when I was fortunate to be asked by Commissioner Lois Weisberg to join her leadership team at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. I became Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Planning, followed by the role of Director of the Chicago Office of Tourism. In 1996 my office helped organize an international campaign for Mayor Richard M. Daley and his Chicago delegation that he took to France, and later to Germany. I became the Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events from 1998 until 2007.

I am a licensed architect in Illinois since 1983, and member of the American Institute of Architects since 1984, during which time I have designed and completed significant cultural, retail, civic and residential structures throughout the Chicago region. I am in my third year of serving on the Board of Directors at the Cook County Forest Preserve Foundation, and also volunteer as a Chicago Greeter to show visitors around Chicago. I am an alumni interviewer of prospective applicants to the College of Architecture Art and Planning at Cornell University, and formerly, I served on the Boards of Directors for Francis Parker School and Peoples Music School.         

What was your first job, and how did it shape your life?

During high school, I together with my siblings worked for my father in his store and import-export business in NYC’s Chinatown, which immersed us in the diversity of Chinese culture including an ever-growing range of regional dialects. I learned that my father’s store was also an informal place where many immigrant Chinese families sought my father’s free advice on immigration rules, housing and social services in lower Manhattan, My father had diplomatic experience from being a Vice Consul at the Chinese Consulate in Mexico, until it closed in 1949.

What books are currently on your bedside table?

1) Havana Modern by Michael Connors; 

2) David Adjaye, Form Heft Material

3) Unfathomable City – A New Orleans Atlas by Rebecca Solnit & Rebecca Snedeker;

4) 500 Self Portraits



Istanbul is a truly remarkable place marking both a historical and geographical crossroads of the world culture. During a recent overnight layover lasting less than 20 hours last year, my wife Katie and I enjoyed an “al fresco” feast of small Mid-eastern plates in a beautiful hidden courtyard garden, followed by an evening stroll to Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. A speedy stroll to the spice market the next morning, found us eventually sitting for tea with a shopkeeper from whom we had purchased some beautifully decorated ceramics.


I am a big proponent of French culture having spent a significant part of my childhood living in Chatou just west of Paris with my mother and three siblings, and attending French public school for a school year. Growing up in NYC we continued embracing French culture, language and travel on a regular basis, including return trips to other parts of France, like Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, and Kolmar.