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Harris Public Policy Announces 2019 Class of the Civic Leadership Academy

Jan 10, 2019

By Photo by Joel Wintermantle

On January 10, the Civic Leadership Academy at the University of Chicago (CLA) announced the 30 government and nonprofit leaders selected for its 2019 class. Developed by the University in 2014, CLA is an annual leadership development program for emerging and high-potential leaders in non-profit organizations and local government agencies within the City of Chicago and Cook County.  Prior to this class, CLA counted 119 fellows as program alumni among its growing network. This is the CLA’s fifth cohort.

The new fellows, who represent the City of Chicago, Cook County, and citywide and community-based nonprofit organizations, were introduced at a ceremony at Venue SIX10 in Chicago that featured Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the keynote speaker. 

“This remarkable cohort of accomplished leaders will be able to grow and develop skills that will amplify the great work that they do in their communities,” said Katherine Baicker, dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, the CLA’s academic home. “CLA brings together leaders from nonprofits and local government and prepares them to make an even greater impact, deepening Harris’ engagement in our city and collaboration with our partners to drive policy innovation.”

“Nothing is more inspiring than civically minded professionals coming together to address important issues affecting their communities,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Congratulations to the next class of Civic Leadership Academy fellows, who I know will help build a lasting legacy in the Chicago area for generations to come.”

While there are numerous leadership development programs for the private sector, such opportunities specifically designed for nonprofit and government leaders are rare, but necessary.

“We are living in a time that requires innovative thinking about social change and what it will take to make our institutions more effective,” said William Howell, CLA Faculty Director, Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics, and Chair of the Political Science Department. “This new cohort will study the nature of leadership in an environment that fosters honest dialogue and critical thinking, arming our fellows with the training they need to effect real change in their careers.”

The Office of Civic Engagement and Harris launched the Civic Leadership Academy in 2014, in partnership with the University’s other professional schools – Chicago Booth School of Business, Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, UChicago Law School, and School of Social Service Administration – and the Institute of Politics, as well as Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) Chicago, Civic Consulting Alliance, the City of Chicago, and Cook County. Last year, Harris assumed full management of the program.

“The Civic Leadership Academy brings together professionals from the nonprofit and the public sectors to solve the most pressing issues of the day,” said Derek Douglas, Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs. “The Office of Civic Engagement is proud to have helped strengthen nonprofits and government agencies in the Chicagoland area through the unique contribution of the CLA.”

The Fellows will begin a rigorous six-month program that will teach essential leadership skills and provide the time and space to focus on a specific leadership skill that will benefit their work. In March, the fellows will travel to the University of Chicago Center in Delhi, India, for a weeklong global practicum. Upon completion of the program, they will receive a certificate in civic leadership from Harris.

By bringing nonprofit and government professionals together, the Civic Leadership Academy fuels an exchange of ideas within the University community and across the city that will help improve practices and civic outcomes. The 2019 class includes 15 fellows who work for nonprofit organizations, eight from city government, and seven from county government.

The 2019 fellows are:

  • Ali Ammoura, Assistant Public Defender, Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender
  • Sol Anderson, Executive Director, LIFT-Chicago
  • Darius Ballinger, Executive Director, Chasing23 Youth Empowerment Group
  • Theodore Donald Berger, Interim Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
  • Lorraine Dimun, COO & General Manager, Harris Theater for Music and Dance
  • Bryan Esenberg, Deputy Commissioner, Multifamily Financing, City of Chicago Department of Housing
  • Adrian Esquivel, Deputy Director, Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance
  • David Feinberg, Managing Director, Regional Real Estate Solutions of IFF
  • Joselynne Joy Gardner, Chief Attorney, Corporate Law & Litigation, Chicago Transit Authority
  • Dessa Gypalo, Chief Data Officer, Cook County Government
  • Jermaine Harris, Sergeant of Police, Chicago Police Department
  • Sadie Stockdale Jefferson, Director of Strategy, Chicago Public Schools
  • Eve Jennings, Deputy Budget Director, City of Chicago
  • Jennifer (Sis) Killen, Assistant Superintendent of Transportation and Highways, Cook County
  • Sybil Madison, Research Associate, Northwestern University and Director, Chicago City of Learning
  • Tovah McCord, Director, Chicago Blackhawks Foundation
  • Jacqueline Menoni, Chicago Public School Principal, Jose de Diego Community Academy
  • Mark Mesle, Midwest Senior Outreach Coordinator, National Parks Conservation Association
  • Alyson Miller, Deputy Chief of Staff of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx
  • Cynthia Miller, Chicago Public School Principal, Fiske Elementary IB World School
  • Cosette Nazon-Wilburn, Executive Director, Love, Unity and Values (LUV) Institute
  • Michael Neal, Lead Pastor, Glorious Light Church, and CEO, Timothy Community Corporation
  • Katie Olson, Director of Operations & Services, City Tech Collaborative
  • Rosa Ortiz, Senior Program Director, Enterprise Community Partners 
  • Logan Quan, Assistant Director of Social Enterprise, Bright Endeavors/New Moms
  • Kimberly Ramirez-Mercado, Program Manager, Sinai Health System
  • Paul Robinson, Director of Service Strategy, Chicago CRED
  • Alice Setrini, Supervising Attorney, LAF’s Medical Legal Partnership Project
  • Gabriella Shemash, Lieutenant, Chicago Police Department
  • Dominic Tocci, Deputy Director, Cook County Department of Planning and Development

With generous support from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Microsoft Corporation, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, the Field Foundation, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Office of Civic Engagement and Harris launched the Civic Leadership Academy in partnership with the University’s other professional schools and the Institute of Politics, as well as Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) Chicago, Civic Consulting Alliance, the City of Chicago, and Cook County. Harris has been the academic home of CLA from its inception.