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November 18, 2020 Toni Preckwinkle, President, Cook County Board – Budgeting for Equity President Toni Preckwinkle Toni Preckwinkle is the 35th president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, an office she has held since 2010. A dedicated and effective public servant, President Preckwinkle has worked tirelessly and collaboratively to reshape County government through increased fiscal responsibility, transparency and improved services. As the top executive in Cook County, President Preckwinkle oversees one of the nation’s largest public health and hospitals systems and one of the nation’s largest criminal justice systems. President Preckwinkle is a lifelong advocate for equity and equality, and through her work as president, has fought to improve health care access, bring increased fairness to the criminal justice system and expand employment training opportunities for some of the County’s most disadvantaged youth. City Club of Chicago: Toni Preckwinkle – Advancing Racial Equity in Cook County Leveraging more than 30 years of political experience and leadership, President Preckwinkle has restored credibility to County government, solving for more than $2.1 billion in budget deficits, cutting $851 million in expenditures and passing balanced budgets each year of her tenure. Through the President’s leadership, Cook County used the Affordable Care Act to create CountyCare, a managed care program for Medicaid-eligible residents which now has about 330,000 members. President Preckwinkle is a nationally recognized leader in the drive to reduce unnecessary and costly detention of non-violent offenders in the criminal justice system. The pretrial population at the Cook County Jail has been reduced by more than 30 percent since she took office in 2010 and in 2017, the MacArthur Foundation awarded Cook County one of its highly competitive Safety and Justice grants in recognition of the County’s progress in criminal justice reform and to support its continued efforts. At the same time President Preckwinkle has successfully fought for juvenile justice reform, reducing the number of children tried as adults and the population in the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. She championed reform of expungement laws to ensure that juvenile records do not keep young people from productive adult lives. For her efforts, President Preckwinkle was honored in 2017 with the inaugural State Champion Award from the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. City Club of Chicago – Toni Preckwinkle President Preckwinkle is also president of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, the largest forest preserve districts in the country spanning 69,000 acres. Under her leadership, the Forest Preserves have been reborn as a public asset providing recreational, educational and ecological opportunities. Before she was elected Cook County Board President, President Preckwinkle served 19 years as Alderman of the 4th Ward, building a reputation for progressive independence. She replaced public housing with viable mixed-income developments that included the first market rate housing built in North Kenwood and Oakland since World War II. She fought for living wages, public education and against payday lending and gun violence. Prior to holding elected office, President Preckwinkle taught high school history for 10 years. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago. She is the mother of two and the grandmother of three.
November 17, 2020 COVID on Campus: How Higher Ed is Adapting – Dr. Gloria Gibson, Dr. Wayne Giles and Dr. Joan Holden Dr. Gloria Gibson On June 1, 2018, Dr. Gloria J. Gibson started her first day as the seventh president of Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. A native of East St. Louis, Illinois, she came to Northeastern from Morgan State University in Baltimore, an Historically Black University and College, where she served as provost and senior vice president for the Division of Academic Affairs. She also served in various administrative roles at Indiana University-Bloomington, Arkansas State University and the University of Northern Iowa. Gibson’s educational journey began with both a master’s and bachelor’s degree in music education from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. She then earned a Ph.D. in Folklore with a concentration in ethnomusicology from Indiana University – Bloomington. While at Northeastern, a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution, President Gibson’s focus has been to provide access and opportunity to all students and to make sure they have support services in place to promote their success. As a first generation college graduate herself, Gibson strives to inspire students in Chicago and beyond, to understand a degree is obtainable and will change the trajectory of one’s life. She works to help Northeastern reach its full potential and to honor its mission to “prepare a diverse community of students for leadership and service in our region and in a dynamic multicultural world.” Dr. Wayne Giles Wayne H. Giles, MD, MS is Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to joining UIC in September of 2017, he was the Director of the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He also led the Division of Population Health at CDC, one of CDC’s most diverse divisions with programmatic and research activities in community health promotion, arthritis, aging, health care utilization, and racial and ethnic disparities in health. His past work experience has included studies examining the prevalence of hypertension in Africa, clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering agents, and studies examining racial differences in the incidence of stroke. He has over 150 publications in peer reviewed journals and has authored several book chapters. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Charles C. Shepard Award in Assessment and Epidemiology and the Jeffrey P. Koplan Award. Dr. Giles, holds a BA (Biology) from Washington University, a MS (Epidemiology) from the University of Maryland, and an MD from Washington University, and has completed residencies in both Internal Medicine (University of Alabama at Birmingham) and Preventive Medicine (University of Maryland). Dr. Joan Holden Joan Holden has been with Loyola University Chicago for 20 years, and has served as the Director of the Wellness Center for 4 years. She also currently serves as the Health Officer for the Management, Policy and Command extended team for Loyola’s response to the pandemic. Joan is a doctorally prepared nurse practitioner, and is responsible for managing the Wellness Center. Her duties as Health Officer involve providing guidance to executive leadership regarding health matters during the pandemic. In her free time, Joan enjoys spending time with her family on their small organic farm in central Illinois.
November 9, 2020 Jennie Huang Bennett, Chief Financial Officer and Susie Park, Budget Director – City of Chicago Jennie Huang Bennett Jennie Huang Bennett serves as the City of Chicago’s Chief Financial Officer. Previously the Chief Financial Officer for Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Ms. Bennett has extensive experience in managing financial turnarounds, driving cost efficiencies, managing large complex capital structures, developing governmental budgets, generating revenues through creative solutions, and finding paths toward financial stability. Bennett has a wide range of both public sector and private sector experience. She helped lead CPS through significant financial difficulties, which have now been relieved through new, fairer educational funding. She has also served as CPS’s acting Chief Internal Auditor since 2018 and Treasurer from 2012-2016. Prior to CPS, Bennett spent over a decade as a senior investment banker in municipal securities, managing post-recovery financing needs for New York after 9/11 and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, large water and wasterwater financings and acquisitions, stadium financings, financings for higher educational institutions as well as various types of other municipal financings. Susie Park Susie Park was appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot as the Budget Director in May of 2019. In this role, Park is responsible for developing and overseeing the City’s $11.65 billion annual operating budget which includes $4.4 billion in corporate funds or the City’s general operating fund; $3 billion in enterprise funds that support Chicago’s water and sewer system and aviation system; $1.76 billion in state and federal grants; as well as overseeing the pension, Special Revenue and debt service funds. While managing the budget for the country’s third largest city, Park’s fiduciary duties include continuously monitoring the revenues against spending and expenditures and making recommendations for operational adjustments throughout the year as needed. Prior to serving as the Budget Director, Park served as Deputy Chief of the Bureau of Organizational Development for the Chicago Police Department, responsible for managing the finance, procurement, and grants division and overseeing the department’s $1.6 billion budget. From 2015 to 2018, Park was the Deputy Budget Director for the Office of Budget and Management where she oversaw the budgets for the Chicago Police Department (CPD), Chicago Fire Department (CFD), Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), Police Board and the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT). Prior to her work with the City of Chicago, Park held the role as the Director of Financial Control for Cook County.
October 13, 2020 Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin – City of Chicago Melissa Conyears-Ervin Melissa Conyears-Ervin is the current City Treasurer of the City of Chicago and a former State Representative for the 10th District. She believes in the promise of opportunity and the strength of families to effectively address the needs of our communities. As the product of a single-parent household, Melissa has seen firsthand the value of education and faith from her mother. Through hard work and determination, Melissa became the first in her family to graduate from college and earn an MBA from Roosevelt University. She has more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry as an executive for Allstate and CS Insurance Strategies. Melissa is well qualified and intimately aware of the challenges in this diverse and vibrant City of Chicago. During her tenure as State Representative for the 10th district, Melissa sponsored the improved Illinois education funding formula that directed over $221 million dollars in additional funding to Chicago Public Schools. She was also the chief sponsor of bipartisan legislation that protected funding for childcare assistance, a service that allows many working parents to stay in the workforce. As City Treasurer, Melissa plans to focus her private-sector and financial training on ways to increase economic development in Chicago’s neighborhoods. She believes that Chicago’s $9.5 billion-dollar portfolio should be leveraged to help Chicago communities grow at the same economic rate, regardless of their zip code. Additionally, Chicago’s investments should observe a triple bottom line, turning a profit while ensuring city money makes environmentally friendly investments and aids working families. In addition to her extensive civic and financial backgrounds, Melissa is passionate about giving back to the community. She has served as a mentor for high school girls and as co-chair of several events for the community, including the popular back-to-school festival that provides school supplies for over 1,000 kids. Melissa is married, has a daughter, and is a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Melissa and her husband live in Garfield Park with their young daughter, Jeneva. She also serves as the youth superintendent at Mt. Vernon Church and participates in a youth mentoring program for teenage girls. Melissa also founded a women’s book club that draws members from Roscoe Village to Lawndale. Melissa is prepared to meet the challenges of the office. She is committed to protecting and growing the City’s $9.5 billion-dollar portfolio, while serving as the only city-wide elected official sitting on four pension boards. Melissa considers it an honor to serve the City of Chicago as its Treasurer. She cares deeply about the community and will work diligently to restore the integrity, honesty and dedication that the entire City of Chicago deserves.
September 30, 2020 Ready for Reform? The Path to Honest Government in Illinois – David Greising – President and CEO, Better Government Association David Greising David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy. Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business. Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dalton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.
September 23, 2020 Arne Duncan – Reimagining Public Safety Arne Duncan As managing partner at Emerson Collective, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan returns to Chicago on a mission to improve the lives of young adults in his hometown. Through partnerships with local business leaders, community organizers, and nonprofit groups, Duncan aims to create job and life opportunities for disconnected youth between the ages of 17 and 24. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Duncan served as chief executive officer of Chicago Public Schools. From 2001 to 2008, Duncan won praise for uniting the city’s stakeholders behind an education agenda that included opening 100 new schools; expanding after-school, summer learning, early childhood, and college access programs; dramatically boosting the caliber of teachers; and building public-private partnerships around a variety of education initiatives. Duncan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1987, majoring in sociology. At Harvard he served as co-captain of the basketball team and was named a first team Academic All-American. Emerson Collective is an organization dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity so people can live to their full potential. Established by Laurene Powell Jobs, Emerson Collective centers its work on education, immigration reform, the environment and other social justice initiatives. Arne serves on the boards of: Ariel Capital Management, Aspen Institute, Communities in Schools, Lucas Museum, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, National Association of Basketball Coaches, Pluralsight, Revolution Foods, Thrive-Chicago and Catapult Learning, LLC. He also serves as Co-chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.
September 17, 2020 Census 2020: Accurately Counting Chicagoland – Oswaldo Alvarez, Anita Banerji & Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore Oswaldo Alvarez Oswaldo Alvarez is the State of Illinois’ Census Director and helps oversee all operations including grant management, marketing, government relations. He has over 15 years of experience in the non-profit sector – ranging from ground-level program implementation to philanthropy and public policy implementation. Before joining the State as the Census Director, Alvarez served a Program Officer at Grand Victoria Foundation, where he oversaw the placed based funding in Elgin, Illinois. A fluent Spanish speaker, he earned his Master’s in Social Policy from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor in Economics and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Anita Banerji Anita leads Forefront’s Democracy Initiative, Census 2020 outreach, and civic engagement work in Illinois. Having worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. for a U.S. Senator and the Illinois State Government for a State Senator, Anita has a penchant for policy; she enjoys working in advocacy, and her nonprofit experience has provided her the opportunity to focus on social policy issues over the past two decades, while learning to build public-private partnerships. Most recently, Anita served as Legislative Director for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, as a political appointee for Governor Pat Quinn. She also led the Cook County and statewide sugary sweetened beverage campaign in Illinois through the American Heart Association, bringing education and awareness across the State to communities regarding the impacts of too much sugar. Anita is a 2010 IL Women’s Institute for Leadership alum, a 2019 Edgar Fellows’ alum, a Member of Cook County’s Community Advisory Panel, a Commissioner for the Cook County Census Commission, and a new Board Member of IL Public Narrative. Commissioner Stanley Moore Stanley S. Moore was appointed Cook County Commissioner of the 4th District in April 2013. He was reelected by his district constituents in November 2018 to serve his second full 4-year term. Commissioner Moore has quickly become a respected and progressive leader within government and among the seventeen (17) members of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. He ranks 7th in seniority as a seated commissioner and currently serves as the chairman of the following Cook County Board of Commissioner Committees: Asset Management, Contract Compliance, Criminal Justice, and Law Enforcement. In addition, Commissioner Moore serves as the Committee Chairman of the Law Enforcement for the Forest Preserve District Board of Commissioners. Commissioner Moore has an active leadership role in the Census for all Illinois residents to be educated to fully participate in the 2020 Census. He was selected by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to serve on the Illinois Complete Count Commission and as chairman of the Cook County Complete Count Census Commission. He is committed for every resident in every community across the state to be accurately counted during the federal decennial census. Since his appointment as chairman of the Cook County Complete Count Census Commission, Commissioner Moore has led a diverse and inclusive effort between Illinois elected officials and local Complete Count Census Committees to secure $4 million dollars in the 2019 State of Illinois budget and $29 million dollars in the State of Illinois 2020 budget for statewide census outreach and educational efforts. The funding is the largest per person allocation made by any state to fund the 2020 Census outreach.
September 14, 2020 Samir Mayekar and Sam Skinner – Chicago: A Path to Economic Recovery Samir Mayekar Samir Mayekar fills the newly created role of Deputy Mayor, Economic and Neighborhood Development, designed to further develop and support Chicago’s neighborhoods. Samir has significant experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Samir previously served in the Obama administration in the White House and at a federal infrastructure finance agency. As co-founder and CEO of NanoGraf Corporation, a global manufacturer of advanced materials, Samir built a green energy company that continues to grow in Bronzeville. Samir has deep neighborhood roots in Chicago, having served as board chair for a community-engaged youth theater in Albany Park and a GRAMMY-winning music ensemble serving the Back of the Yards. He holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management, where he received the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. He also serves on Northwestern’s board of trustees. Samir is fluent in Spanish and married to Dr. Emily Mayekar, an orthopedic surgeon working at Illinois’ largest trauma center serving Chicago’s South Side. Sam Skinner Samuel K. Skinner Chairs the Chicago Government Law & Policy Practice and has had a career in both the governmental and private sectors. As Of Counsel to the firm, he consults with clients in a variety of areas, including strategizing on complex litigation matters, state and federal regulatory matters, governmental matters, transportation issues, and corporate governance. Mr. Skinner is the retired Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of USF Corporation, one of the nation’s leading transportation and logistics companies. During each year that he served as CEO, the company was recognized by Fortune magazine as one of America’s most admired companies. From 1993-1998 he served as President of Commonwealth Edison Company and its holding company Unicom Corporation (now Exelon), one of the country’s largest utilities. Prior to joining Commonwealth Edison, Mr. Skinner served as Chief of Staff to President George H. W. Bush. As Chief of Staff, he coordinated the activities of numerous cabinet departments and administrative agencies reporting to the President.
August 25, 2020 Chicago Connected: Closing the Digital Equity Gap for Students & Families – moderated by Daniel Anello – Jennie Huang Bennett, Phillip DiBartolo & Darnell Shields Daniel Anello Daniel Anello has served as CEO of Kids First Chicago since 2015. Daniel brings deep quantitative analytical skills and authentic lived-experience to his role in supporting parent-led and data-informed change within Chicago’s public schools. He previously served as the Chief of Strategy and External Relations for Chicago International Charter School. In 2014, Daniel played an important role in securing equitable funding for students citywide, working side-by-side with the CPS budget office on the implementation of a new student-based funding formula. Daniel came into urban education through the Broad Residency. Prior to working in the education sector, he worked in brand management. In 2015, Daniel was named in the inaugural class of Presidential Leadership Scholars, an initiative that draws upon the resources of the U.S. presidential centers of Lyndon B. Johnson, George H.W. Bush, William J. Clinton, and George W. Bush. He was a member of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship Summer 2016 cohort and the Leadership Greater Chicago 2018-19 cohort. Daniel is a member of Education Leaders of Color, and a Board member of Bottom Line Chicago and Chicago Urban League. Phillip DiBartolo Phillip DiBartolo strives to provide equitably distributed, innovative technology solutions that improve the quality of education for our students, reduce administrative burden on our educators, facilitate parent engagement, and eliminate operational inefficiencies. As the district’s chief information officer since 2016, DiBartolo is responsible for the delivery of all information technology (IT) services. These duties include maintaining 420,000 computing devices, provisioning core systems for 30,000 staff members, securing accessible and secure communications and internet services, and resolving approximately 140,000 annual support requests. Jennie Huang Bennett Jennie Bennett serves as the City’s Chief Financial Officer. Previously the Chief Financial Officer for Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Ms. Bennett has extensive experience in managing financial turnarounds, driving cost efficiencies, managing large complex capital structures, developing governmental budgets, generating revenues through creative solutions, and finding paths toward financial stability. Bennett has a wide range of both public sector and private sector experience. She helped lead CPS through significant financial difficulties, which have now been relieved through new, fairer educational funding. She also served as CPS’s acting Chief Internal Auditor from 2018-2019 and Treasurer from 2012-16. Prior to CPS, Bennett spent over a decade as a senior investment banker in municipal securities, managing post-recovery financing needs for New York after 9/11 and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, large water and wastewater acquisitions as well as various types of municipal financings. Darnell Shields A passionate builder of relationships and innovative developments, Darnell Shields is a lifelong Austin resident and co-owner of HairTech the Salon, a local business he started with his wife. He holds two Associate degrees from Wilbur Wright-City Colleges of Chicago (Applied Sciences & Liberal Arts) and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Darnell is also an Inaugural Fellow of the Civic Leadership Academy at the University of Chicago and serves as Vice Chairman on the board of directors of the Jane Addams Resource Corporation.
August 19, 2020 Gia Biagi – Commissioner – Chicago Department of Transportation Gia Biagi Gia Biagi is an urban planner and designer with experience in the private and public sectors who was appointed Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot in December 2019. The Mayor charged Biagi with implementing a vision for a transportation system that prioritizes equity and mobility and works to lower the economic and environmental burden of transportation on residents and communities, especially for people in poverty and people with disabilities. As Commissioner of CDOT, she oversees a department responsible for Chicago’s roadways and bridges, sidewalks and bike lanes, the citywide bike share system, traffic signals and signage, streetlights, the permitting of activities in the public right-of-way, and policies focused on complete streets, climate adaptation, and new mobility. Biagi spent more than a decade in public service as a planner for the City of Chicago, with roles that included Chief of Staff for the Chicago Park District, as well as with the Department of Planning and Development. Much of her work for the City focused on neighborhood revitalization through planning, programs, policies and capital investments in our park and recreation system, a network that touches nearly every corner of the City
August 17, 2020 Chicago’s Evolving Media Landscape: Trends in 2020 – Morgan Elise Johnson, Gregory Pratt and Jen Sabella Morgan Elise Johnson Morgan Elise Johnson (Producer/Director) is an independent filmmaker who recently co-founded The TRiiBE (, a digital publication that is reshaping the narrative of Black Chicago. She is also co-producing Unapologetic, a documentary that examines the contributions of queer femmes at the helm of the Movement for Black Lives in Chicago. Previously, she was a producer for Milwaukee-based production house, 371 Productions, where she co-directed There Are Jews Here (2015) and produced Virtual Reality documentary and Sundance Film Festival selection, Across the Line (2016). She earned a BS in Radio/TV/Film from Northwestern University and is a native of North Chicago, IL. Gregory Pratt Raised in Little Village, Gregory Pratt covers Mayor Lori Lightfoot and City Hall for the Chicago Tribune. Before joining the Tribune in 2013, he worked for the BGA, alt-weeklies in Phoenix and Minneapolis, and Hoy. He has been a finalist for the Livingston and earned other national honors, including from the National Headliner Awards, the Lisagors, and Scripps Howard. He serves on the Chicago Tribune Guild’s executive committee. Jen Sabella Jen Sabella is the Director of Strategy and co-founder of Block Club Chicago, a nonprofit news site dedicated to covering Chicago’s neighborhoods. Before starting Block Club, Jen was Deputy Editor and Director of Social Media at DNAinfo Chicago, a site she helped launch in 2012. Prior to that, she was HuffPost’s Chicago Editor and a breaking news reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times. Jen also co-hosts The Girl Talk, a monthly conversation series and podcast featuring influential Chicago women. Jen has been named among the 10 most powerful women in Chicago journalism by Robert Feder, a 2019 “power player” by Chicago Magazine and one of the Windy City Times’ “30 Under 30” when she was actually under 30. Jen grew up in Chicago, attending Columbia College Chicago and Mother McAuley High School.
August 12, 2020 Sam Toia – President & CEO – Illinois Restaurant Association Sam Toia Since 2012, Sam Toia has served as President & CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA), a non-profit trade association representing the state’s largest private sector employer, with projected employment in 2019 of 588,000 people and more than $30.1 billion in annual sales. The IRA owns and produces Chicago Gourmet – the annual food and wine festival held in Millennium Park that unites hundreds of restaurants, chefs and beverage experts and more than 14,000 attendees for a weekend filled with food and drink tastings, entertainment, cooking demonstrations, book signings, interactive seminars and more. The Association is a proud host of the James Beard Foundation Awards, which will be held in Chicago through 2027 and celebrates excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary education throughout the country. Prior to his election, he served as the IRA’s Chairman of the Board. Toia is a graduate of DePaul University and a specialist in community and government relations. He has served in leadership positions in several civic and public agencies. Previously, he was a Board Member for McPier (McCormick Place Navy Pier) from 2003 to 2010. In 2011, Mayor Emanuel named Toia to the Zoning Board of Appeals. In 2017, Sam was appointed a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for Choose Chicago. As President & CEO of the IRA, Toia is responsible for managing day-to-day operations of the association, increasing its membership base, developing strategies to enhance its profitability and maintaining positive relations with public officials and state and local agencies. He is passionate about local, state, and federal issues affecting the hospitality industry.
July 30, 2020 Michelle Morales – President – Woods Fund Chicago Michelle Morales Michelle Morales is the President of the Woods Fund Chicago. She is a first-generation US born Puerto Rican. Prior Woods Fund, she led the Illinois chapter of the Mikva Challenge, an organization that leads the field of civics by developing young people to become civically engaged and creating space for their civic participation and leadership. Michelle’s background has been in the field of alternative education, focusing on and advocating for educational justice, first as a teacher at an alternative high school in Chicago’s Humboldt Park community and then as Associate Director at the Alternative Schools Network. In addition, she was an active community organizer for 16 years in Chicago’s Puerto Rican community. Michelle received a BA from DePaul University, a Master’s in Special Education from UIC and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. She is a fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and had the honor of participating in the inaugural cohort of Cultivate – a women of color leadership program developed by Woods Fund, Crossroads Fund, Chicago Community Trust and the Chicago Foundation for Women. City Club of Chicago: Race & Place – Young Adults and the Future of Chicago Michelle is honored to lead Woods Fund Chicago, one of six foundations in the city of Chicago to explicitly fund grassroots community organizing and public policy advocacy.
July 29, 2020 City Club – Tom Dart – Sheriff – Cook County Hon. Thomas Dart Sheriff Tom Dart has lived a life dedicated to effecting change, protecting the unprotected and fighting for social justice. After serving the community as a prosecutor and state legislator, Sheriff Dart decided to run for Cook County Sheriff in 2006 on a promise of using this incredible platform to advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable and neglected communities among us. In the ensuing years, he has fulfilled that promise by enacting meaningful social justice reforms and has rewritten the book on what a Sheriff can accomplish. In particular, Sheriff Dart’s restorative justice vision has reduced the number of non-violent offenders detained at Cook County Jail –one of the largest jails in the nation –while spreading awareness nationally of the ongoing criminalization of mental illness. In 2017, Governing Magazine named Sheriff Dart a Public Official of the Year. TIME Magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2009.Sheriff Dart and his wife Patricia live on Chicago’s South Side and are the proud parents of five children. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart explains how he was able to control spread of coronavirus in Cook County Jail Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart: ‘Electronic monitoring is not a program for violent offenders’ Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s message to looters: ‘You will be locked up’
July 23, 2020 Dr. Allison Arwady – Chicago Department of Public Health – Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady Dr. Allison Arwady, MD, MPH, is the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). Dr. Arwady started at CDPH in 2015 and served as Chief Medical Officer before being confirmed by the City Council as Commissioner in January, 2020. As Chief Medical Officer she oversaw the disease control, environmental health, emergency preparedness, and behavioral health divisions. She has worked on disease outbreaks, immunization promotion, tuberculosis response, lead poisoning prevention, substance misuse, and more. Prior to CDPH, she worked for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer. In that role, she focused on outbreak response, including international work on Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. While based at the Illinois Department of Public Health, she responded to disease outbreaks across the state. She has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, and completed medical school and clinical training at Yale University. She is a board-certified internal medicine physician and pediatrician, and continues to see primary care patients weekly.” Dr. Allison Arwady: The 19-29 age group has the highest number of COVID-19 cases The head of the Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady: ‘Wear your mask and we’ll get through this thing together’ Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady: ‘There is a lot of silent COVID here’ Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady: “Don’t let [the good weather] change the way you’re taking this crisis seriously”
July 8, 2020 Jahmal Cole – My Block, My Hood, My City – Founder & CEO Jahmal Cole A champion of social justice, Jahmal Cole’s mission is to build a more interconnected Chicago on the pillars of service and education. As the founder and CEO of the city’s fastest growing social impact organization, My Block My Hood My City, Jahmal is the creator of an exposure-based education program for teens and a network of volunteer initiatives that serve Chicago communities year-round. Traveling, youth mentorship and community organizing are the subjects of Jahmal’s highly acclaimed books and speeches. He has spoken to audiences ranging from high school students to the Mayor of Chicago. In 2019, Jahmal Cole was named to Crain’s 40 under 40, he’s also the recipient of the 2019 Champion of Freedom Award, the 2018 Chicago Defender Men of Excellence Honoree, and the 2018 Chicago City Council Resolution Award. In 2018, he was also named one of the “20 Most Inspiring Chicagoans” by Streetwise Magazine and a Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine.
June 30, 2020 Erin Aleman – Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning – Executive Director Erin Aleman Erin Aleman was appointed unanimously by the Board of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) in June 2019 as the agency’s third executive director. Immediately prior to joining CMAP, Aleman served as Vice President of Metro Strategies, a policy and advocacy consulting firm. From 2015-18, she held leadership positions at the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT), first as a Bureau Chief and then as Director of the Office of Planning and Programming. During her IDOT tenure, she provided strategic guidance, implemented performance-based tools, developed the state’s first Asset Management Plan, and was responsible for developing multimodal policy initiatives. Her master’s degree in Urban Planning emphasized Design and Development. She is a certified mediator, a strategist for the Obama Foundation Scholars Program, and a member of the American Planning Association and Women’s Transportation Seminar.
May 14, 2020 Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle Hon. Toni Preckwinkle started her career as a high school history teacher, teaching in Chicago for 10 years. Her journey in public service started as alderman for 20 years and later in the Harold Washington Administration she worked in the Department of Economic Development. In 2010 Hon. Preckwinkle was elected as Cook County Board President; the first African American woman elected to run the 2nd largest county in the nation. As Board President she has overseen one of the nation’s largest public health and hospitals systems and, one of the largest criminal justice systems and the largest Forest Preserve system in the country. Hon. Preckwinkle is a lifelong advocate for equity and equality, and through her work as County Board President, has successfully expanded access to healthcare for 350,000 people, brought increased fairness to the criminal justice system, championed a regional economic development strategy and expanded employment opportunities for the young people of cook county.
March 10, 2020 Charting a Future Course in Higher Education – Moderated by Robert Jordan – Dr. Ali R. Malekzadeh & Mablene Krueger Mablene Krueger Mablene Krueger, M.B.A. is the ninth president of Robert Morris University Illinois, is a strategic academic leader who has a distinguished career in higher education for over 35 years. She is passionate about the strengths and challenges of first-generation students. As President of Robert Morris, Krueger spearheaded a plan to refocus the Institution on its […]
March 10, 2020 Charting a Future Course in Higher Education – Moderated by Robert Jordan – Dr. Ali R. Malekzadeh & Mablene Krueger Mablene Krueger Mablene Krueger, M.B.A. is the ninth president of Robert Morris University Illinois, is a strategic academic leader who has a distinguished career in higher education for over 35 years. She is passionate about the strengths and challenges of first-generation students. As President of Robert Morris, Krueger spearheaded a plan to refocus the Institution on its core mission and focus on student outcomes. These efforts led to consolidating campuses, streamlining services, and restructuring the institutional discount model to more tightly align with the mission, resulting in significant institutional savings while increasing opportunities for first-generation, under-resourced students. With the goal of leading RMU to become the Midwest’s leading experiential university, Krueger’s priorities for the institution include building additional career-related majors, taking full advantage of the educational, cultural, ethnic, and entertainment partnership opportunities provided by a world-class city, and providing opportunities to unlock the potential of first-generation students. In addition to her Associate Degree from Robert Morris, Krueger holds a B.A. in Management and an M.B.A. from University of Illinois at Springfield and a certificate in IT Systems from the University of Chicago. She currently serves as Secretary/Treasurer for the Executive Committee of the Federation of Illinois Independent Colleges and Universities, Treasurer for the Yes We Must Coalition, and as a Peer Reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission. Most recently, she was elected as the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s (CCAC) Council of Presidents representative to the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Krueger is a nationally certified Experiential Educator through the National Society for Experiential Education. She also works closely with the leadership teams of America’s Urban Campus and Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative. Dr. Ali Malekzadeh Ali R. Malekzadeh, PhD, the sixth president of Roosevelt University, is an expert in strategic management, an accomplished fundraiser and a visionary academic leader who has served in higher education for more than 20 years. He believes that access to higher education is every American’s right and one of the pathways to living the American Dream. At Roosevelt, Malekzadeh champions the University’s mission of social justice. He is passionate on issues of women’s and LGBTQ rights, immigration, affirmative action, and access to higher education. One of Malekzadeh’s signature accomplishments is the creation of the American Dream Reconsidered Conference, an annual three-day event free to the public discussing issues related to law, politics and the pursuit of the American Dream. Since becoming Roosevelt’s president in 2015, Malekzadeh has worked to raise over $37 million for student scholarships and grants, continues to stabilize enrollments and identify creative solutions to increase new revenue sources. Prior to Roosevelt, Malekzadeh served for four years as the dean of the College of Business Administration at Kansas State University. He also spent a combined 13 years as dean of the business schools at Xavier University in Cincinnati and St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Malekzadeh earned his doctorate in business administration with an emphasis on strategic management from the University of Utah, and a bachelor’s in management and Master of Business Administration from the University of Denver. Malekzadeh is also a member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. Robert H. Jordan, Jr. Robert H. Jordan, Jr., is a retired, weekend anchor for WGN-TV’s News at Nine. Jordan’s journalism career has spanned close to 50 years and has showcased his exceptional writing and verbal communication skills. Jordan recently published his first book, entitled, “Murder in The News: An Inside Look at How Television Covers Crime.” During the Fall Quarter of 2014, Jordan was the first Journalist-in-Residence at the University of Chicago. Jordan earned his undergraduate degree from Roosevelt University, a master’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies from Loyola University in Chicago. Since retiring, Jordan has been focusing his energy on his video production company that produces luxury, documentary-style, legacy biographies for Ultra-High-Net-Worth-families across the country. These private family histories help multi-generational families preserve and protect their exceptional histories. A native of Atlanta, Ga., Jordan and his wife Sharon, a retired middle school librarian, have one daughter, Karen, who is a weekend news anchor for WLS-TV, Ch.-7, in Chicago. Karen’s husband Christian Farr is a reporter for NBC-5, TV in Chicago. The Farrs have two children, a girl, Vivian and a boy, John Robert Farr.
March 5, 2020 City Clerk Anna Valencia – City of Chicago Hon. Anna Valencia Anna Valencia was first sworn-in as City Clerk of Chicago on January 25, 2017 overseeing one of the largest offices in the City serving 1.2 million Chicagoans and generating more than $130 million annually. As City Clerk, Valencia has focused on making government accessible to all Chicagoans. Under Valencia’s leadership, the Office of the City Clerk has made it a priority to find new and innovative […]
March 5, 2020 City Clerk Anna Valencia – City of Chicago Hon. Anna Valencia Anna Valencia was first sworn-in as City Clerk of Chicago on January 25, 2017 overseeing one of the largest offices in the City serving 1.2 million Chicagoans and generating more than $130 million annually. As City Clerk, Valencia has focused on making government accessible to all Chicagoans. Under Valencia’s leadership, the Office of the City Clerk has made it a priority to find new and innovative ways to bring services directly to residents, increase civic engagement, and collaborate across government in the private and public sectors. Prior to becoming Clerk, Valencia served as the second woman and first Latina to run Mayor Emanuel’s Legislative Counsel and Government Affairs (LCGA). Valencia has also worked as an Illinois political professional for several elected officials including U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, State Senate President John Cullerton, U.S. Congressmen Mike Quigley and Gary Peters. In 2018, Business Insider named Valencia one of the 8 most influential millennial women in U.S. politics. In 2017, Chicago Magazine listed Valencia as an Emerging Power Player highlighting her as a rising star in Chicago politics. Valencia has also been awarded Negocios Nows’ 40 under 40 for her work as part of the next generation of Latina leaders. Valencia earned her degree in International Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She currently resides in the Tri-Taylor neighborhood with her husband and dog.
February 24, 2020 Congresswoman Lauren Underwood – Illinois’ 14th District Congresswoman Lauren Underwood Congresswoman Lauren Underwood serves Illinois’ 14th Congressional District and was sworn into the 116th U.S. Congress on January 3, 2019. Congresswoman Underwood is the first woman, the first person of color, and the first millennial to represent her community in Congress. She is also the youngest African American woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives. Congresswoman Underwood serves on the House Committee on Education and Labor, the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, and the House Committee on Homeland Security. She also serves on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. Rep. Underwood is a member of the Future Forum, a group of young Democratic Members of Congress committed to listening to and standing up for the next generation of Americans, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the LGBT Equality Caucus. As a strong supporter of addressing the gun violence epidemic, Congresswoman Underwood is a member of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce. Prior to her election to Congress, Congresswoman Underwood worked with a Medicaid plan in Chicago to ensure that it provided high-quality, cost-efficient care. She served as a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), helping communities across the country prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters, bioterror threats and public health emergencies. As a career public servant at HHS, she helped implement the Affordable Care Act — broadening access for those on Medicare, improving healthcare quality, and reforming private insurance. Congresswoman Underwood also taught future nurse practitioners through Georgetown University’s online master’s program. Congresswoman Underwood is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University. She graduated from Neuqua Valley High School and is a lifelong Girl Scout. She resides in Naperville, Illinois.
February 24, 2020 Congresswoman Lauren Underwood – Illinois’ 14th District Congresswoman Lauren Underwood Congresswoman Lauren Underwood serves Illinois’ 14th Congressional District and was sworn into the 116th U.S. Congress on January 3, 2019. Congresswoman Underwood is the first woman, the first person of color, and the first millennial to represent her community in Congress. She is also the youngest African American woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives. Congresswoman Underwood serves on the House Committee on Education […]
February 19, 2020 Congressman Sean Casten – US House of Representatives, 6th District Congressman Sean Casten Sean Casten represents Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, located in suburbs west of Chicago, and is serving as a freshman in the 116th Congress. As a scientist, clean energy entrepreneur, author, and now as a Member of Congress, Casten has dedicated his life to fighting climate change. In Congress, Sean currently serves on the House Financial Services Committee, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the […]
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Jan 9th, 2017
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Aug 26th, 2020
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