I’m Ben van Loon and I like to create things.

By day I serve as managing director for the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE), where I oversee the association’s communications, publications and research, creative direction, and thought leadership, including serving as editor-in-chief of AFIRE’s award-winning Summit Journal. I’m also an adjunct professor of communications at Northeastern Illinois University, where I have taught public relations since 2018.

By night I’m a strategy consultant, writer, editor, photographer, designer, cyclist, urban explorer, and proud Chicagoan.

I have nearly fifteen years of experience working for global firms, boutique agencies, nonprofits, associations, and consultancies. I specialize in integrated communications strategy development, reputation management, public relations, creative direction, and leadership.

I’m passionate about cities, urbanism, design, sustainability, globalism, alternative transportation and energy, philosophy, and challenging orthodoxies.

I have a large portfolio of writing, editorial, academic, design, marketing, and public relations work—and several awards recognizing these efforts over the years. And from 2011 to 2015, I served as founder and editor-in-chief of Anobium Publishing, a boutique literary publishing interest focused on outsider and experimental art and writing.

I have a hold a certificate in editing from the University of Chicago; a master’s degree in communications and media from Northeastern Illinois University; and dual bachelor’s degrees in English and philosophy from North Park University, where I graduated magna cum laude.

awards /

2021 Ragan’s/PR Daily, Editor of the Year
2021 Silver Stevie/American Business Award, Communications Professional of the Year
2021 AVA Digital Platinum Award Winner for Communications
2020 GlobeSt/Real Estate Forum Top Marketing Influencer in Commercial Real Estate
2016 Oxford Bibliographies Cinema and Media Studies Award
2016 Eddie & Ozzie Award, “Best Single Article in Technology,” FOLIO
2015 Distinguished Student Speaker, Northeastern Illinois University
2015 Library Award for Excellence in Research, Northeastern Illinois University
2015 IAP Grant, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
2014 IAP Grant, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
2014 Award of Merit, Northeastern Illinois University
– 2013 Satire Award, The NewerYork

work /

– Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate
– Northeastern Illinois University
– Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
– World Business Chicago
– Aileron Communications
– Cotter Consulting
– Guerrero Howe Custom Media
+ more

education /

– University of Chicago, Certificate in Editing
– Northeastern Illinois University, MA, Communications and Media
– North Park University, BA, English; BA, Philosophy

certs /

– Certificate Program in Association Leadership, American Society of Association Executives, 2022
– Foundations of Real Estate (FoRE), Urban Land Institute, 2021
– Certified Digital Marketing Professional (IE-DMI55630), Digital Marketing Institute, 2019

membership /

– American Society of Association Executives, Member, 2019–Present
– American Jewish Committee, Member, 2020–Present
– Urban Land Institute, Member, 2020–Present
– Urban Land Institute, Chicago Product Council, Member, 2022

residencies /

– 2015 Artist-in-Residence, Starry Night Retreat, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico