Fall 2014 participants in the Chicago Urban League’s IMPACT leadership development program pose in the Winter Garden at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Chicago Booth faculty instructs accomplished African-American professionals as part of a leadership development program run by the Chicago Urban League.

(October 1, 2014)

by Deborah Ziff

The IMPACT Leadership Development Program, which began classes in September 2014, is intended to develop African-American leaders in the private, non-profit, and public sectors. The (University of Chicago Booth School of Business) will serve as the Urban League’s education partner, providing programming, faculty, and classroom space for the nine-month session. The students were admitted in a competitive selection process.

George Wu, professor of behavioral science and faculty director for the program, said the classes will present the core ideas and tools that “business leaders need in order to be effective in their organizations and outside their organizations.”

The 34 fellows were chosen from a competitive field of 115 applicants. They include the director at arts education program WisdomTree, the press secretary for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a bank examiner with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, chief financial officer at investment bank Loop Capital Markets LLC, an assistant US attorney, and operations director at Willow Creek Community Church of Chicago.

Organizers say the goal is to provide promising African-American professionals ages 30 to 45 with the skills and training to be effective leaders, to connect them with other established professionals.

In corporate boardrooms and within executive ranks, “diversity still has a ways to go,” said Andrea Zopp, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League. African Americans make up 6.6 percent of the 1,523 corporate board members in metropolitan Chicago and the Great Lakes region, according to a 2013 Chicago Urban League survey.

The fellows will meet once a month for all-day sessions through May. Four Booth faculty members will provide leadership training. Those sessions will be mixed in with modules – developed by the Urban League – that will provide historical and political contexts.

Linda Ginzel, clinical professor of managerial psychology, will lead a session on leadership effectiveness. Heather Caruso, adjunct associate professor of behavioral science, will talk about power and influence in organizations. Wu will lead sessions on making smart decisions and effective strategies for negotiating. Harry L. Davis, Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management, will explore ethics and values with the fellows.

Wu said the fellows represent a broad set of professional arenas. Some work at start-ups, others at for-profit companies, non-profits, and government.

Lisa Hinton, public health specialist with the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Care Center, said she applied because she is a relative newcomer to Chicago and hopes the program will help her network and learn more about the community.

She said she also looks forward to the mentorship component of the program. Each fellow is matched with a mentor who is in a leadership role. Hinton’s mentor is Sonya Malunda, senior associate vice president for community engagement at the University of Chicago. Hinton said she hopes to learn from Malunda’s experiences navigating the levels of leadership at the university.

The program is funded through grants from The Chicago Community Trust and The Joyce Foundation. Booth is also donating classroom space in the NBC Tower, 455 North Cityfront Plaza Drive.