Civic Leadership Academy Selects 30 Local Government and Nonprofit Leaders for 2016 Class of Fellows

The Civic Leadership Academy has selected 30 emerging leaders who work for the City of Chicago, Cook County, and a diverse array of nonprofits from across Chicago to make up its 2016 class of fellows. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago’s Deputy Mayor Steve Koch, and University of Chicago Vice President for Civic Engagement Derek Douglas welcomed the class during a ceremony at the Gleacher Center on January 13.

“For the second year in a row, roughly 100 professionals applied to the program, resulting in a highly talented pool of potential fellows,” said Douglas. “I am confident that this new class of fellows will build on the track record of the inaugural class to have significant positive impact in our communities.”

From left, James Rudyk, Steve Koch, Toni Preckwinkle, Peggy Davis, Dean Daniel Diermeier, and Derek Douglas, pose for a picture during the 2016 CLA Fellows welcome reception at the Gleacher Center on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Chicago.

The University launched the Civic Leadership Academy in 2015 to develop a pipeline of talented leaders to help nonprofits and city and county government agencies in Chicago thrive. The interdisciplinary leadership development program is a key component of a broad set of UChicago initiatives to foster leadership and strengthen capacity among individuals and organizations in Chicago.

The Office of Civic Engagement oversees the program in partnership with the Harris School of Public Policy, the School of Social Service Administration, Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, Chicago Booth, the University of Chicago Law School, the Institute of Politics, Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) Chicago, Civic Consulting Alliance, City of Chicago, and Cook County.

On Jan. 14, the fellows began a rigorous six-month program that will teach essential leadership skills and provide the time and space to collaborate on a capstone project that addresses a practical challenge facing each fellow’s organization. In February, the fellows will travel to the University of Chicago Center in Delhi, India, for a weeklong global practicum. Upon completion of the program, fellows will receive a certificate in civic leadership from Chicago Harris.

“As the Civic Leadership Academy program builds capacity and momentum in its second year, we are honored to continue to serve as its academic home,” said Daniel Diermeier, dean of Chicago Harris. “This year’s fellows confront daunting challenges as they seek to improve lives in the communities they serve, but their commitment to making a positive impact is inspiring. I am excited to meet the new class of fellows and look forward to what this collaboration will bring.”

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. Among the 2016 Civic Leadership Academy Fellows, 15 represent nonprofit organizations, eight represent the city, and seven represent the county.

During the welcome reception, James Rudyk Jr., executive director of the Northwest Side Housing Center and a member of the inaugural Civic Leadership Academy cohort, told the 2016 class, “You will gain the knowledge needed to be a successful leader that operates from a place of self-understanding. As leaders, it is our duty to take that knowledge and apply it to our work in real time. It’s our job to push ourselves, to try something new, to think outside the box, and to make the difficult choices in order to continue to grow and develop.”

Tasha Cruzat, Preckwinkle’s chief of staff, said, “We have already seen the benefits of the Civic Leadership Academy in both the development of county leaders who participated in the inaugural class and in the advancement of their capstone projects.  We are excited about the impact the 2016 fellows will have on the increased effectiveness of county government.”

Fellows are nominated by their organizations, which pay the $6,000 program fee. The University, Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Microsoft Corporation, and JPMorgan Chase are underwriting the program for the second consecutive year.

The 2016 fellows are:

Fanny Diego Alvarez, director of education, Enlace Chicago
Maritza Bandera, project manager of centennial, civic engagement and partnerships, The Chicago Community Trust
Phillip Boothby, director of capital planning & policy, Cook County Bureau of Asset Management
Jennifer Bransfield, vice president and general counsel, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives
Daniel Cervantes, vice president, finance and operations, Skills for Chicagoland’s Future
Crystal Coats, senior manager of corporate and external partnerships, Chicago Housing Authority
Kia Christie Coleman, director of juvenile justice programs, Chicago Department of Family and Support Services
Benjamin Dieterich, assistant budget director, Chicago Office of Budget and Management
Anthony Dover, energy manager, Cook County Bureau of Asset Management
Samuel E. Dyson, director, Mozilla Hive Chicago Learning Network
Maureen Lopez Fitzpatrick, associate dean, Wilbur Wright College, City Colleges of Chicago
Brady Gott, managing director, Cleanslate Chicago
Ruth Greenwood, lead attorney, Voting Rights Project, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Julio L. Guerrero, vice president, institutional advancement, The Resurrection Project
Joseph Hollendoner, first deputy commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health
Elizabeth Jellema, director of research, World Business Chicago
Brandie V. Knazze, deputy commissioner of IT, contracts and programmatic monitoring, Chicago Department of Family Support Services
Betsy Leonard, vice president, external relations, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights
Simone Melissa Moseley, instructional effectiveness specialist, Chicago Public Schools
Patrick Murphy, manager, Zoning Board of Appeals, Chicago Department of Planning and Development
Clifford M. Nellis, executive director and lead attorney, Lawndale Christian Legal Center
Manuel Pérez, chief of staff, Office of County Clerk David D. Orr
Denean Pillar-Jackson, associate director, corporate partnerships, Year Up
Anel Ruiz, deputy chief of staff , Office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
Eliza Solowiej, executive director, First Defense Legal Aid
Crystal Sykes, director, employee services and workforce development, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Rights
Jim Thompson, deputy commissioner, Commissioner Michael Cabonargi, Cook County Board of Review
Lanetta Haynes Turner, executive director, Justice Advisory Council, Cook County Office of the President
Alex Wilson, executive director and founder, West Town Bikes
John Yonan, superintendent, Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways

James Rudyk, Jr., is executive director of the Northwest Side Housing Center, a community based organization in Belmont Cragin, and a member of the inaugural Civic Leadership Academy cohort. At the reception on Wednesday, he told the new class, “You will gain the knowledge needed to be a successful leader that operates from a place of self-understanding. As leaders, it is our duty to take that knowledge and apply it to our work in real time. It’s our job to push ourselves, to try something new, to think outside the box, and to make the difficult choices in order to continue to grow and develop.”

For more information about the Civic Leadership Academy, visit cla.uchicago.edu.

Originally posted January 18, 2016

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