July 2020
COVID-19 Response and Recovery Update
Since March, Civic Consulting Alliance has mobilized to support a comprehensive COVID-19 response and recovery that centers equity. To date, we've redeployed 75 percent of our staff and secured pro bono teams across nearly 20 projects, organized into 10 distinct workstreams with the City of Chicago, Cook County, the State of Illinois, and philanthropic and community stakeholders.

This month, we highlight two compelling examples of this critical work: the City of Chicago's Recovery Task Force and the State of Illinois' reopening guidelines.

Recovery Task Force
On April 23, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the launch of the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force to provide recommendations for the economic and social recovery of the Chicago region. The Task Force was a group of industry experts, regional government leaders, community-based partners, and policymakers. Civic Consulting Alliance and our pro bono partners are proud to have served a key role in coordinating the efforts of this Task Force, led by its co-chairs, Mayor Lightfoot and former White House Chief of Staff Sam Skinner.

On July 9, the City released Forward Together , the Task Force's advisory report. The report outlines 17 bold recommendations to ensure an inclusive and equitable recovery for the city of Chicago and our region, in alignment with the Mayor's commitment to eradicate poverty and address systemic inequities. The recommendations were developed by five committees with distinct focus areas:
  1. Change Study – Uncovering the impact of COVID-19 on Chicago’s economic and social fabric
  2. Policy & Economic Stimulus – Determining a strategy to help Chicago’s economy weather the impact of COVID-19 and to create an economy that works for all Chicagoans
  3. Mental & Emotional Health – Ensuring Chicagoans are supported mentally and emotionally during the COVID-19 healing process
  4. Marketing & Business Development – Engaging Chicagoans to build a city that attracts tourists, conventions, corporations, and workforce talent
  5. Regional Coordination – Ensuring recovery coordination between Chicago, surrounding counties, and the State of Illinois

In the months ahead, Civic Consulting Alliance will support the implementation of the report's recommendations by providing program management and advancing specific recommendations that require additional capacity.

Illinois Reopening Guidelines
The State of Illinois is committed to a comprehensive, systematic, and data-driven approach to Illinois' reopening. On June 22, the State released the guidelines for phase four of its Restore Illinois plan, a five-phase reopening plan driven by public health guidelines. Civic Consulting Alliance and our pro bono partner, Bain & Co. , have supported the State's reopening efforts by engaging industry and sector groups, and coordinating an internal working group comprised of representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, to develop industry-specific guidelines that allow for the safe re-opening of businesses.

While our city and state's battle with COVID-19 is far from over, we are proud to be part of these efforts to provide the public with transparent leadership and research-driven guidance on the path towards a safe, equitable recovery.
Companies Form Network to Support Employees Through Trauma-Informed Practices
Our client, the Corporate Coalition, recently launched the Chicago Resiliency Network. Linda Graff, a pro bono fellow committed by Protiviti to Civic Consulting Alliance from February through June 2020, led this work. We talked to Linda about the impact that the Network hopes to have on our region’s social and economic wellbeing, and about her experience as a fellow.

What are the Corporate Coalition and the Chicago Resiliency Network?
The Corporate Coalition is a collaborative of more than 40 companies committed to collectively using their resources, capabilities, and employee enthusiasm to significantly reduce economic inequities in our region. The Coalition aspires to change the way participants invest and operate—complementing, not replacing, their corporate philanthropy—to create a better region. The Chicago Resiliency Network, the first of the Coalition’s five initiatives, aims to connect Coalition members with resources and peers to adopt strategies to better support employees experiencing trauma.

Why did the Corporate Coalition launch this initiative?
Coalition participants chose to launch this initiative because they saw the lack of trauma-informed supports in workplaces as a critical challenge to their commitment to reduce inequities in our region. Through conversations with their employees, companies found that many employees, in particular those from the South and West Sides of the city, often experienced trauma due to racism, poverty, gun violence, mistreatment by police, and other systemic issues. Moreover, the effect of that trauma impacted employee retention and advancement. The Chicago Resiliency Network will help Coalition companies identify and implement trauma-informed practices to better support their employees by: centralizing existing knowledge; providing a venue for companies to learn from one another; and developing new shared resources.

What was your role on the project?
I worked with Civic Consulting Alliance and the Corporate Coalition to determine the Chicago Resiliency Network’s structure and approach. I was lucky to work with Doug Scott, and Brian Fabes (Civic Consulting Alliance’s Leadership Council Co-Chair, and former CEO, respectively), who provided invaluable coaching throughout the project. I conducted more than 50 interviews with employers, nonprofits, and experts to gather their advice and expertise. Ultimately, based on this research, we decided that the Chicago Resiliency Network would be a lean center, ideally housed within a local academic institution.

What are the key accomplishments of this project?
We now have: a diverse, engaged committee, led by Audrey Williams-Lee of Hyatt, and Owen Washburn of JP Morgan Chase; a plan to guide the Chicago Resiliency Network through its first year; and a catalog of resources – including trainings, experts, and institutes – that companies can reference when implementing trauma-informed practices. While the Chicago Resiliency Network has more work to do, it is exciting to see member companies and their leadership mobilizing together to address this important issue.

Why is trauma important for employers to address?
Trauma is often invisible, but, whether directly or indirectly, it affects all of us. The COVID-19 crisis, the recent killings of George Floyd and other Black Americans, and the systemic racism that these events highlight are all sources of trauma. Now more than ever, it is clear how trauma proliferates our society and impacts our individual and collective wellbeing. These events emphasize how critical it is that employers are able to support the Chicagoland workforce by building workplaces that are truly inclusive, empathetic, and equitable.

Additionally, from a business perspective, trauma-informed practices have significant benefits. Employee attendance, retention, productivity, and satisfaction are negatively impacted by exposure to trauma, and are positively impacted by employer and external support.
How was your experience working with Civic Consulting Alliance?
My fellowship with Civic Consulting Alliance was an invaluable personal and professional experience. My teammates challenged me to innovate for our clients and showed me new opportunities to use my professional skills to address our city’s greatest needs. I was also motivated by the business leaders we collaborated with, leaders who are finding concrete ways to use their companies’ resources to reduce inequality in Chicago. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from these inspiring examples.
Linda Graff was with us as a fellow from Protiviti from February to June.
Fellow Spotlight: Aleks Czulak
Aleks Czulak was with us as a fellow from McKinsey from August 2019 through June 2020.

What project work were you involved in during your time at Civic Consulting Alliance?
Over my 10 month fellowship, I had the opportunity to work on four projects, including projects related to early childhood education with Chicago Public Schools and the Office of the Mayor, a COVID-19 public health management framework, and a performance evaluation project with the Chicago Police Department.

What will you take away from your time at Civic Consulting Alliance?
I came to Civic Consulting Alliance to gain experience with projects and institutions driving equitable economic development. I've learned about how different institutions approach complex problems, about the philanthropic sector, and about the many stakeholders working together to create a more equitable, inclusive Chicago economy. This real-world experience will be invaluable as I begin law school and explore issues like labor and employment law.
What was your most memorable experience during your time at Civic Consulting Alliance?
I have a couple! One of my favorite board meetings was in fall 2019 at The Hatchery , in East Garfield Park, with Kim Foxx as the guest speaker. Getting to hear from one of Civic Consulting Alliance's clients on the important work being done to transform criminal justice while at a food incubator on the West Side—it was a great example of leadership and innovative spaces in Chicago.

Second, as a graduate of Chicago Public Schools, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to address equity in education in my hometown, while learning about early childhood educational interventions.  
How has your time at Civic Consulting Alliance helped you develop professionally?
I appreciated getting to work with people with a variety of career paths and interests. I'm grateful to the mentors and friends at Civic Consulting Alliance who shared their experiences with me—and who helped me think through career paths and graduate school programs.

I also valued the opportunity to learn more about Chicago, my hometown, and the role of public-private partnerships in making this a better city for its residents. This experience has reinforced my goals of working in public service to shape, innovate, and increase the effectiveness of programs that improve the health and wellbeing of children and families, especially programs that support the most vulnerable populations.

Civic Consulting Alliance Fellowships are full-time positions that typically last between three months and a year. Fellows are integrated into project teams for a unique professional development opportunity. Please visit our   Fellowships   page to learn more about our range of fellowship opportunities.
In Other News...

  • Civic Consulting Alliance is excited to welcome three new analysts - Reena Burt, Alex Price, and Ericka Woods - and two undergraduate summer interns - Tiana Graham and Kayode Balogun - to the team!

  • You may have noticed at the top of this newsletter that we've updated our logo. We are grateful to pro bono partner Zeno Group for guiding our team and our board through a collaborative process to develop more compelling messaging to convey the unique value and impact of our work. Our new tagline - "We get big things done" - conveys our intent to drive change at a systems-level, helping leaders achieve bold, ambitious goals.
Questions? Comments? Contact Marie Akerman