"Trash is just a failure of imagination"

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CPS Vendor #19517

EIN #47-4679301

© 2017 Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange

What is CCRx?

Our Story


Every year, teachers scramble for supplies, furniture, books and other materials and every day, Chicago businesses dispose of a host of things that teachers could really use. 


The Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange (CCRx) is a 501c3 nonprofit that works with local and national businesses to source materials for teachers and non-profit organizations, to support creative thinking in our youth, and to reduce waste. CCRx educates and empowers the public to rethink surplus through events and creative reuse programming such as workshops, webinars, and exhibitions. 

Our Mission

CCRx inspires creativity, empowerment, efficiency and environmentalism by reimagining and redistributing surplus to folks who really need it.   We believe that trash is just "a failure of imagination."

Our Team

​Barbara Koenen is the founder of CCRx and an artist.  She previously worked for the City of Chicago, as Director of Artists Resources.  She is committed to providing access to materials for artists and underfunded educators, while improving Chicago's system of sustainability. 

Carolyn Ottmers is the Donations Manager at CCRx. She is also an Associate Professor of Sculpture at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she also runs the foundry. Carolyn has a passion for art-making and for supporting artists and students. carolyn@creativechirx.org 

Volunteers are the engine that fuels CCRx.  
During events and providing regular support in the office, on social media, working with teachers, artists and donors, our volunteers are an integral component of CCRx's success.  Join us!

Our Board

Barbara Koenen (Executive Director, President) is an artist and arts administrator. After 23 years with the City of Chicago Dept of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, she founded CCRx to support teachers, artists and non-profits.


Cheryl Hughes (Director, Secretary) is senior director of civic engagement at The Chicago Community Trust and the driving force behind partnerships with Chicago Ideas Week, the Chicago Humanities Festival, the Chicago Public Library’s “One Book One Chicago” and StoryCorps. She was executive director of Science Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry; program manager for the Chicago Mayor’s Office of Special Events and executive director of Gallery 37, now After School Matters.


Carolyn Ottmers (Director, Treasurer, Director of Material Donations) is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and activist. As founder and director of the School of the Art Institute's World Famous Foundry, she has 25 years of experience identifying and diverting waste materials into practical reuse, integrating programs with local industries and creating events that celebrate this philosophy.

William Cosper (Director) is Director of Resource & Program Development at Smart Love Family Services.  He was Vice President for Institutional Relations at the Executive Service Corps and Donors Forum / Forefront, director of Development & communications at Strategic Learning Initiatives, and Manager of Corporate & Foundation Relations at The Joffrey Ballet.


Peter Cunningham (Director) is the executive director of Education Post.  He served as assistant secretary for communications and outreach in the U.S. Department of Education (2008-12), and worked with a former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools.  Peter serves on several non-profit boards, including Oakland-based Great Schools; The Montessori School of Englewood; Manufacturing Renaissance; Unbounded; and Foolproofme.com.  Peter founded Cunningham Communications, serving public, private and non-profit clients, worked for political consultant David Axelrod, and was a senior advisor and speechwriter for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.  


Lauren M. Pacheco (Director) is co-founder of Chicago Urban Art Society and the Chicago Lowrider Festival.  She curated an award winning public art initiative as aide to Alderman Daniel Solis in the Pilsen community and received grants from the Legacy Foundation, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the City of Gary, Chicago Community Trust, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) and most recently, the Knight Foundation for Destination Gary, a large-scale public art project that will transform an unbuilt environment in Gary, Indiana into a walkable, art-park. 


William Rattner (Director) served as the Executive Director of Lawyers for the Creative Arts for 14 years. He graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School. He practiced law in Chicago for over 37 years, specializing in business and litigation. He has served as an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University School of Law; Columbia College Chicago; Illinois Institute of Technology; and the Graham School at the University of Chicago.


Timothy Samuelson (Director) is the cultural historian for the City of Chicago, through the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.