May 2017

"My appreciation for how other cultures have solved similar urban problems is a unique inspiration as I help CCA's clients search for innovative approaches to the things that matter most to Chicago residents."

Rasmus Lynnerup
Principal, CCA

Growing up in Denmark, I had the benefit of educational and healthcare systems that worked well, even for families like mine with relatively modest means. When I came to Chicago, I looked for ways I could help my adopted city achieve similar outcomes for its residents. My new role as Principal at Civic Consulting Alliance gives me the perfect platform to do that, bridging my previous experiences in government and consulting.
My interest in Chicago was piqued by a short assignment here as a representative of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When I moved on to McKinsey, I jumped at the chance to come back to Chicago. It was through McKinsey that I first learned about Civic Consulting Alliance, where I supported a project to reposition the Sister Cities International Program.
Following my time at McKinsey, I joined City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) as Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Strategy Officer. In this role, I oversaw CCC's Reinvention initiative and was fortunate to collaborate with Civic Consulting on several high-impact projects. Thanks to the support of CCA and its partners, Reinvention has made great strides, resulting in improvements such as an increase in graduation rates from 7% to 17% over the past four years.
My experiences as a Civic Consulting partner and client have demonstrated the real change and impact that the organization achieves. Joining as a Principal seems like a logical next step! In this new role, I am excited to leverage my cross-cultural and cross-industrial background to address some of the biggest challenges facing our region, particularly in the Criminal Justice arena.

"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

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 outcomes. 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 Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, 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 moving the unemployed and underemployed into jobs that improve their economic mobility, placing more than 3,400 job seekers since its inception, with 1,120 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 place an additional 2,000 Opportunity Youth in jobs in the next two years.
"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, the 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 an example of Civic Consulting's strategy of 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 is the major beneficiary of Marie's success at Civic Consulting Alliance and Skills.
"Building upon the initial work, Cook County plans to engage a broad set of stakeholders and partners in developing a comprehensive set of initiatives that will build from current activities to restore the South Suburbs as key communities of choice and hubs of economic activity. The goal is to drive prosperity in the South Suburbs and the region, which deserve no less."

Toni Preckwinkle
Cook County Board President

Cook County's South Suburbs have long been a critical part of Chicago's regional economic strength, home to important industrial assets and residential communities for workers across the region. These suburbs, whose economic base relies heavily on manufacturing, have struggled against the headwinds of industrial decline in the United States, along with the impact of the Great Recession. The result has been overall declining employment and increasing disconnection from the region's economic trajectory.
Recognizing that the health of the regional economy depends on the vitality of each of its parts, last year Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle initiated the South Suburban Economic Growth Initiative (SSEGI) with the goal of reviving prosperity in the South Suburbs. The initiative is a collaboration between the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, Civic Consulting Alliance, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Mass Economics, and RW Ventures, with financial support from the Chicago Community Trust and MacArthur Foundation.
This month, the collaboration completed Phase I of its work, in which it identified opportunities for economic growth. In this phase, the team conducted a market analysis and interviewed over 70 stakeholders in the South Suburbs to develop a baseline understanding of the economic dynamics. This research highlighted core strengths in existing economic clusters such as transportation, logistics and distribution, as well as opportunities for innovation in emerging regional industries, workforce development, and housing and amenities.
These Phase I efforts will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive set of long-term initiatives to revitalize the South Suburbs, helping the South Suburbs to regain its strength as a critical economic hub and as communities of choice for the region's residents.

Read the Phase I Report Executive Summary here. For more information on this project, contact Antonio Benecchi.
  • Earlier this year, Civic Consulting Alliance and pro bono partner Bain & Co. supported the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority (MPEA) in developing a strategic plan to strengthen the agency's role as a critical economic engine for the city. Several of the strategic plan's core findings were recently featured in a Crain's article .
  • This year, more than 3,000 Chicago Public Schools students will graduate with at least one course credit from the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), and five students will graduate with an associate's degree from CCC, a result of the tuition-free early college initiatives and Early College STEM schools, which CCA and our partners helped to launch and grow.
  • Earlier this month, a program developed by long-time Civic Consulting client Chicago Public Library (CPL) and Peer 2 Peer University was named "most innovative" by Next Century Cities and Google Fiber as part of the 2017 Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards. The program, Learning Circles, brings together adult learners for group online study sessions at branch libraries across the city. Since the program's launch in 2015, more than 225 people have completed courses. Congratulations, CPL!
  • Chelsea Sprayregen, a 2016 CCA Summer Associate, won first place in the Booth School of Business' Social New Venture Challenge. Her team's project, Provide, offers a way for daycare business owners to enroll in government subsidy programs for workers, manage licenses and accreditation, and maximize tax deductions. Congratulations, Chelsea! 
Questions? Comments? Contact Leslie Glotzer.

Civic Consulting Alliance is an affiliate of the Civic Committee of the
Commercial Club of Chicago.