The E.J. Plesko Award is part of the E.J. Plesko Distinguished Speaker Series, which features speakers who embody the “Wisconsin Tradition” in their spirit, imagination, entrepreneurial skills and enthusiasm for improving the quality of the built environment. The E.J. Plesko Distinguished Speaker Series was created to bring the considerable real-world development expertise of alumni and board members to all University of Wisconsin real estate students. It was funded in 2007 by a gift from the late E.J. Plesko, former Graaskamp board member, who was the founder and past president of E.J. Plesko & Associates, Inc.


James Letchinger2018 Distinguished Speaker: James D. Letchinger, Founder and President, JDL Development

Jim Letchinger founded JDL Development in 1993 and to date, has developed more than 1,200 residential units with another 1,500 currently preparing to be in construction. 

He launched his development career with a conversion of a 1940’s Benjamin Marshall building at 210 E. Walton St. in Chicago where he transformed 21 apartments into five unique residential condominiums. Mr. Letchinger quickly became known as one of Chicago’s most creative and respected residential developers, specializing in urban development where his expertise in entitlement and infill design provides a significant competitive advantage. Mr. Letchinger is intimately involved in all aspects of JDL’s projects, from inception to completion. His hands-on approach has helped JDL survive a number of real estate cycles.

Mr. Letchinger is a graduate of the University of Michigan. A life long resident of the City of Chicago, Mr. Letchinger is married with two grown children.


Past E.J. Plesko Distinguished Speakers