Full Name: Donovan W. Pepper
Role: Senior Director, Government Relations & Civic Engagement
Serving as a volunteer leader on The Magnificent Mile Association Board for: 10+ years
What drew you to this volunteer leadership role?
Walgreens has historically engaged with The Magnificent Mile Association because we have a number of retail stores in the district. We bookend Michigan Avenue with high profile stores at both Chicago Avenue and in the historic Wrigley Building. In the past, we encouraged our local store management teams to be points-of-contact for Association engagement. Unfortunately, due to the changing nature of retail, many of our store managers were promoted or assigned to take over leadership of other stores outside of the district. Because of this shift, Walgreens decided that someone who was not subject to these regular changes might be better positioned to represent the company on The Magnificent Mile Association's Board for consistency. I was chosen, given my long history in the Chicagoland business and civic community.
What makes The Magnificent Mile so special and unique to the City of Chicago?
I was born in Chicago and as a child, lived on the near Westside. As such, we didn’t venture much downtown or if we did, we never went past the movie theaters at State & Lake or Grant Park. However, one of my fondest memories as a child was having a relative take me and my twin brother to Water Tower Place for the first time during the Christmas holiday season and he told us that we could have whatever we wanted. I remember so vividly going to then-FAO Schwartz and Marshall Fields and riding the escalators and glass elevators! Later, walking down Michigan Avenue and seeing all of the beautiful buildings and holiday decorations, we were simply awestruck! It was such an amazing and memorable time and showed me that there was so much more to Chicago than the Westside. I am certain that the experience I had visiting The Mag Mile for the first time is similar to so many others, whether residents or tourists. This is why The Mag Mile is so important to the City of Chicago.
In your opinion, what is the most surprising or endearing quality of your fellow Magnificent Mile Association Members?
Having witnessed members prior to the pandemic and the civil unrest of 2020, I was always impressed how these individuals were truly committed to ensuring that the district remained a welcoming and thriving place for tourists to visit and enjoy the “quintessential Chicago shopping, dining and retail” experience and to also ensure that residents in the district were valued. However, since the onset of the pandemic and the numerous challenges that retailers and businesses have faced as of late, I have seen Association members continue to be very committed to seeing the district return back to its prominence, to advocate for reasonable regulatory relief, and to support each other in every way possible. It has been truly inspiring.
What inspires you most about your current role within your company?
To work for Walgreens, a company that promotes healthcare in its mission, is a highlight. Especially during the pandemic, it has been inspiring to see that mission come to life in a magnified way, shedding light on the importance of accessible healthcare through the lens of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians providing life-saving COVID vaccines and COVID testing. Also, I find focusing on managing the complex federal, state, and local regulatory challenges of an essential retailer very rewarding. This includes enabling our stores to remain open and available for residents and businesses, and to help them get through this historic time.
What is your favorite Chicago pastime?
Association Annual Golf Outing 2021 - Tuckaway Golf Club
What is your biggest hope for The Magnificent Mile district in the next year, five years, or beyond?
I hope that The Mag Mile will be the singular “doorway” to Chicago. I wish for it to continue its prominence as a global destination for tourists and for residents across Chicagoland and the U.S., so they too, can have the similar experience I did when I visited The Magnificent Mile for the first time.