Three Paths to Impact for Summer Associates

Civic Consulting Alliance summer associates Kerry Kraemer, Sean Crowley, and Kathleen Woods followed different paths to the Civic Consulting Alliance and plan to pursue different future careers. This summer, they have spread out across the City of Chicago and Cook County to work with several of Civic Consulting's biggest clients on wide-ranging projects: Kerry with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office (SAO), Sean with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and Kathleen with the Chicago Police Department (CPD). But when they describe their experiences as Summer Associates, some common themes emerge. In just a few short weeks, all three found themselves deeply engaged with the people and institutions that make Chicago and Cook County government run. And all three were given significant responsibility and autonomy to drive impact on their projects.

Kerry Kraemer: Developing Alternatives to Prosecution

Kerry was familiar with the high stakes and human impact of government work from her background in national security research and advocacy. But she was impressed by how the Civic Consulting Alliance team at the SAO was able to define clear goals up front and quickly build trust with the client's most important decision makers. Civic Consulting asked Kerry to design a strategy to help the SAO divert appropriate cases to treatment and assistance programs rather than prosecution.

Kerry took on interviews and focus groups, observational research, and data analysis to support the development of diversion programs providing for deferred prosecution and alternative sentencing.

Her observations of drug court were the highlight of her summer experience. "My role as a summer associate really exceeded my expectations for what I'd be able to do," says Kerry. She plans to return to public sector work at the state or federal level after finishing her MBA at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business next summer.

Sean Crowley: Introducing Computer Science to the Next Generation

Sean worked on CPS's innovative CS4All program. The program aims to introduce all CPS students to the basics of computer science, which Sean is quick to point out "means more than just coding." "Introducing students to computer science means empowering them by teaching them how computers and algorithmic processes work," he explains. "We can empower students with capabilities including web design, blogging, data analysis and more."

Sean helped CPS to define the case for change behind CS4All to secure buy-in from CPS's many stakeholders. He also developed a new operating model to support CPS's goal of requiring one computer science class for all graduating students by 2020.

Like Kerry, Sean was impressed by the Civic Consulting network and the organizational model that made it possible for him to have impact for his client. "Civic Consulting Alliance is much more deeply embedded in the Chicago public sector than I had realized," he says. "I learned a lot over the summer about how hard it is to drive change in a complex organization, but also about how CCA helps to make lasting change possible." The highlight of Sean's summer experience was communicating with the CPS students. The summer experience has affirmed his commitment to working on education in the non-profit sector after completing his MBA at the Kellogg School of Management.

Kathleen Woods: Identifying Needed Resources for Police Reform

Kathleen, Sean's classmate at Kellogg, spent the summer supporting CPD's Plan for Reform. Kathleen analyzed the budgetary impact of CPD's proposed reforms and looked for the most cost-efficient way forward. She developed a five-year summary budget estimate for delivery to CPD's senior leadership and City Hall. Given the wide-ranging reforms CPD has embraced in its "Next Steps for Reform," Kathleen worked with officers and staff from across the Department, from the CPD Academy to the Community Policing Advisory Panel, the Information Services Division and beyond.

With an accounting background, Kathleen was attracted to consulting by the opportunity to have a more direct impact, and her summer experience confirmed her desire to stay in the social impact consulting space. "The best part of the experience was being able to work with the Civic Consulting and CPD project management teams side by side," says Kathleen. "Both groups were so passionate and dedicated. Working with them, I was able to get beneath the news reports to understand CPD and the challenges it is facing in much more depth."

Civic Consulting Alliance sees a continual influx of partners, fellows and other collaborators from diverse backgrounds who bring fresh ideas and problem solving approaches that directly benefit our clients. This is especially true in the summer, when we are fortunate to work with emerging young leaders like Kathleen, Sean, and Kerry dedicating their energies to driving positive change in Chicago and Cook County.

For more information about the Summer Associate program, contact Stephanie Dolan.

I learned a lot over the summer about how hard it is to drive change in a complex organization, but also about how CCA helps to make lasting change possible.

Sean Crowley


2017 Summer Associate