Civic Leadership

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 Civic Consulting Alliance’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 vision for Civic Leadership is to create a culture of civic leadership that can address the region’s most difficult challenges—and captures our most exciting opportunities—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. But we can do more, and looking to the future, we have begun to focus on four core building blocks we believe will be critical in building a new culture of civic leadership that Chicago needs to thrive in the decades ahead.

  • Building “communities of purpose” across all sectors.
  • Working across power structures.
  • Supporting personal growth and ownership, challenging their own assumptions, in particular about others they are working with across power structures in communities of purpose.
  • Finding ways to work at scale, impacting thousands or tens of thousands of Chicago residents.

We greatly appreciate any feedback or questions on our Civic Leadership work. Please email us at with anything you would like to share with our team.