Civic Leadership

Leadership is a necessary part of the solution to our region's biggest challenges.

Chicago benefits from a long and distinctive history of extraordinary civic leadership. Our tradition of private sector involvement in the advancement of our region is the envy of other cities.

Today, the context in which civic leadership is exercised is changing. Traditional senior corporate leaders face growing national and global responsibilities, economic growth is increasingly driven by younger, entrepreneurial leaders with high expectations for civic engagement of themselves and their employees, and attitudes and trust in public and private institutions and the leaders of those institutions have deteriorated sharply. Meanwhile, the complexity of the challenges and opportunities we face as a region are increasing, requiring new ways to work across sectoral, functional, racial, and other traditional silos.

This evolving context of leadership and the challenges we face impact all of CCA’s work. These forces also provide an opportunity to build a stronger foundation of civic leadership in Chicago, one that enhances the region’s distinctiveness as a place of extraordinary civic engagement, where all sectors and all people play a significant role in the region’s vitality.

Our goal is to create the public and civic leadership capacity that is necessary for addressing the most important challenges of our region in a way that brings people together and builds trust in institutions. We have taken important steps already, such as our role in developing the University of Chicago Civic Leadership Academy and placement of our alumni in civic leadership roles in the public and private sectors.

Looking to the future, we will focus on four core building blocks of the civic leadership Chicago needs to thrive in the future:

  • Building “communities of purpose” across all sectors.
  • Working across power structures.
  • Supporting personal growth and ownership.
  • Finding ways to work at scale, i.e., in the thousands or tens of thousands.