CHICAGO, IL (May 15, 2023) — As a new slate of city legislators prepare to take office and embark on the work of governing alongside incoming Mayor Brandon Johnson, newly-elected members are in the heat of preparation for their new roles. Just two weeks before the new session began, the University of Chicago’s Center for Effective Government (CEG) brought together Chicago's new alderpersons for a wide-ranging training session on policy and governance issues, led by scholars and experts from the field.
The daylong orientation session—a voluntary program offered to both newly-elected alderpersons and those who won elections following earlier mid-term appointments to the city council—provided incoming alders with access to world-class faculty and peer civic leaders, who will in turn help to characterize the policy and governance challenges, trade-offs, and opportunities that stand before the entire city. The orientation was held in-person at the Harris School of Public Policy on Tuesday, May 2.
“I had the privilege of returning to my alma mater last week to participate in this informative orientation alongside my newly-elected peers on the city council,” said Alderperson Nicole Lee (Harris MPP’05). “Our constituents expect us to confront the myriad challenges facing our city from day 1. As we prepare to do so, it is invaluable to hear from experts with deep knowledge and perspective on the issues that matter most to Chicagoans. I am grateful to the Center for Effective Government for bringing this cohort of incoming leaders together at this critical juncture.” Lee, who represents Chicago’s 11th ward, was appointed to her seat by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in March 2022 and elected in her own right earlier this year.
Policy “flash talks,” led by faculty from the University of Chicago, DePaul University, and the George Washington University, covered critical issues facing the city, such as public safety, municipal finance, and housing. Later, panel discussions on policy and governance featured alumni of CEG’s Civic Leadership Academy, its flagship leadership training program for government and nonprofit leaders in Chicago and Cook County.
In addition to guest faculty and practitioners, University and CEG leadership—including CEG Director and Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics William G. Howell, CEG Executive Director Sadia Sindhu, and Harris School Interim Dean and Sydney Stein Professor Ethan Beuno de Mesquita— addressed the alderpersons and moderated discussion between sessions.
“The election of new local leaders is always a moment of opportunity,” said Sindhu. “This orientation is a chance to seize that moment by offering our incoming alders access to the kind of expertise that will help them look beyond their own wards and grapple with policy and governance issues in play across Chicago. We’re gratified that so many incoming members took time out of their busy schedules to participate.”
The aldermanic orientation marks the latest in a series of recent investments by the Center in training and engagement activities in the Chicago area. Last week, CEG announced a three-year partnership with Chicago Public Schools to provide senior leadership training to CPS employees, and just yesterday, the Center launched a new 18-month multimedia series with Chicago Public Media diving into solutions to threats facing democracy in the lead-up to the 2024 elections.
The training, provided at no cost to city government or individual alderpersons, was made possible by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
About the Center for Effective Government (CEG)
The University of Chicago Center for Effective Government was founded in 2019 to help solve the problems of government ineffectiveness with a multi-faceted theory of action. The Center organizes its work and activities, and builds bridges between its stakeholders—scholars, students, practitioners, leaders, journalists, and advocates—around three key areas: ideas, education, and engagement. Through robust, innovative programming, the Center works to strengthen institutions of democracy and improve government’s capacity to solve public problems.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including advancing global climate solutions, decreasing nuclear risk, promoting local justice reform in the U.S., and reducing corruption in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program and the global 100&Change competition, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsive democracy as well as the vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago.