Where are they now? Creating employment access and building civic leaders along the way

In 2009, the Great Recession was in full flight. Jobs were scarce, and public sector leaders recognized that the downturn represented a fundamental shift in the labor market. Getting people back to work would require training workers for a new economic reality. Marie Trzupek Lynch was a Principal at Civic Consulting Alliance when the Mayor’s Office approached CCA for help in developing a new approach to increase employment.

This idea led to Chicago Career Tech (CCT), a train-to-hire program supporting unemployed job seekers. Under Marie’s leadership, World Business Chicago incubated this program. CCT piloted a variety of approaches and determined that a “demand-driven” model, in which job placements are matched with employers’ specific needs, had the best outcome. CCT found that placements from demand-driven programs were 20-25% higher than those from traditional, classroom-based workforce programs.

In 2012, with the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, founding Board Chair Penny Pritzker, and many other business and civic leaders, CCT transitioned into a fully demand-driven model organization, Skills for Chicagoland’s Future (Skills), with Marie as the founding CEO. Skills now stands as a national leader in placing the unemployed and underemployed into jobs that improve their economic mobility, placing more than 3,400 job seekers since its inception, with 1,120 placed in 2016 alone. Building off this success, Skills is now increasing its focus on assisting “Opportunity Youth”—young people aged 16 to 24 who are neither employed nor in school. The goal is to secure funding to place an additional 2,000 Opportunity Youth in jobs over a two-year period.

“High level unemployment statistics don’t paint the whole picture, as many neighborhoods in Chicago simply don’t have the knowledge of or access to good jobs that are out there,” according to Marie. “The labor market isn’t always equitable in connecting jobs to candidates.” Skills bridges that gap by creating a network for unemployed job seekers who lack one.

Marie’s career path is emblematic of a key element of Civic Consulting’s strategy—developing civic leaders. According to Marie, “my time at CCA re-affirmed my commitment to civic engagement, and passion for working at the intersection of public, private, and not-for-profit sectors.” Thousands of successful job placements later, it is clear Chicago and its residents are major beneficiaries of Marie’s success at Civic Consulting Alliance and Skills.

My time at CCA re-affirmed my commitment to civic engagement, and passion for working at the intersection of public, private, and not-for-profit sectors.

Marie Trzupek Lynch


CEO, Skills for Chicagoland's Future