December 2019
Since a spike in shootings and homicides in 2016, public agencies, nonprofits, and community members across Chicago have ramped up their efforts to sustainably reduce gun violence. While these efforts have collectively contributed to a significant decrease in shootings and homicides since 2016, gun violence remains at a level higher than in peer cities like Los Angeles and New York.

To strengthen Chicago’s focus on reducing gun violence, in the spring, newly-elected Mayor Lori Lightfoot committed to increasing the staffing and capacity of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety (OPS), and to boost coordination between the various people, organizations, and agencies working across the city to reduce violence. With the Mayor taking office in late May, OPS had very little time to ramp up before the start of the summer—typically the most violent time of the year, when about 50% of homicides and 40% of non-fatal shootings occur.

Accordingly, the Mayor’s Office asked Chicago CRED , UChicago Crime Lab , and Civic Consulting Alliance to help OPS develop and implement gun violence reduction initiatives over summer 2019, guided by three priority objectives:

  • Reduce shootings and homicides
  • Strengthen law enforcement effectiveness, accountability, and legitimacy
  • Develop a foundation for long term city public safety strategy and infrastructure

From June through October 2019, Civic Consulting Alliance and our pro bono partners supported four summer gun violence reduction initiatives (s ummer safety cabinet meetings, regional coordination with stakeholders from across the South and West Sides, backbone operational support, and 2020 budget development) that have had a significant impact on OPS and the new administration’s approach to gun violence. Specifically:

  • With support from Civic Consulting Alliance, Chicago CRED, and Crime Lab, OPS’ capacity increased by 8 staff over the summer, enabling the Mayor’s Office to develop and quickly launch a summer strategy.
  • Our work on the Summer Safety Cabinet Meetings and Regional Coordination initiatives helped to establish a governance structure that connects people on-the-ground—from across the city and it’s violence prevention infrastructure—with the City and the Mayor.
  • As we head into 2020, OPS has continued to build upon this work, working with Civic Consulting Alliance to launch a comprehensive violence reduction strategy that will include year-round planning and coordination.

While no level of gun violence is acceptable—and much work remains to be done—we are encouraged that homicides and nonfatal shootings both decreased in summer 2019 compared to 2018, continuing a trend that began in 2017. We are hopeful that, with the infrastructure for collaboration in place, OPS will help Chicago continue this downward trend next year and in the years to come, and that someday summer will no longer synonymous with gun violence in Chicago.

We recently published a case study about Civic Consulting Alliance's work with more than 20 pro bono partners to accelerate Chicago's 2019 Mayoral transition. Click below to read the full case study, and visit our case study archive to learn about other past projects.
Anita Alem was with us as a Fellow from BCG from May to October.
Kathleen Caffrey was with us as a Fellow from CIBC from June to September.
Julie Habbert was with us as a Summer Associate from the Kellogg School of Management from June to August.
What project work were you involved in during your time at Civic Consulting Alliance?

AA: I worked with West Side United for 6 months, supporting the Medical Assistant Pathway Program (MAPP) - now in its second year - and incubating two new career pathways programs: Nursing and Health IT.

KC: I worked with West Side United. My work focused on developing and launching two grant programs to support West Side entrepreneurs and nonprofits, helping small business owners grow their enterprises and creating local jobs. 

JH: I helped the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety coordinate gun violence reduction efforts across the Chicago Police Department, street outreach programs, community-based organizations, and other city agencies. I also supported work with the Mayor’s Summer Safety Cabinet.

What will you take away from your time at Civic Consulting Alliance?

AA: I came to Civic Consulting Alliance to gain experience in economic vitality. I have 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.

KC: I’ll take away a greater appreciation for the work the public sector and private institutions do to serve and improve Chicago. I’ve also grown my knowledge of Chicago communities. Working with West Side United introduced me to several neighborhoods I previously knew little about, and deepened my love for the city. 

JH: Prior to this summer, I had no experience in public safety or consulting, so I’m leaving with many lessons learned about both of these areas. I’m also grateful to my colleagues at Civic Consulting Alliance, who have taught me so much this summer.

What was your most memorable experience during your time at Civic Consulting Alliance?

AA: MAPP students needed laptops, and Civic Consulting Alliance Associate Principal Kirsten Carroll and I pitched in to help with ordering and delivery. Little did we know we would end up spending an afternoon handing out 19 new laptops to students. I'll also always remember how my colleagues came together to make sure this Texan had enough warm clothing to survive my first snow in Chicago.

KC: To spread the word about the grant programs, West Side United held seven community information sessions. I attended the kick-off session in Austin, which drew 150 local entrepreneurs. Meeting with applicants and hearing about the work they do every day for their community was impactful and added meaning to my work.  

JH: My ride-along with the Chicago Police Department was definitely a highlight. I spent an evening with officers in District 5, one of the districts my work with the Office of Public Safety focused on. It was interesting to see the work that police officers do every day firsthand, and provided context for the broader initiatives I was working on.

How has your time at Civic Consulting Alliance helped you develop professionally?

AA: I had a high level of independence and autonomy, which strengthened my work planning and project management skills. One lesson from the programmatic staff of West Side United is how to effectively “lead from behind” in a way that, instead of pushing responsibilities onto others, encourages them to take ownership over workstreams.

KC: I’ve gained invaluable experience driving diverse stakeholders towards collaborative, effective outcomes. I’ve also learned to never underestimate the power of planning and organization. 

JH: My time as a Summer Associate was incredibly informative as I continue to develop long-term goals for my post-business school career. In addition to the skills I’ve strengthened, it has been exciting and inspiring to learn about work done at the intersection of the public and private sectors.

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.
After nearly 15 years as Chief Executive Officer, Brian Fabes announced he plans to step down from leading Civic Consulting Alliance.

“Brian’s leadership has been fundamental to the success of the Civic Consulting Alliance,” said Kelly R. Welsh, President of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago . “He and his team have contributed in countless ways to make Chicago a great, global city and his commitment to improving the lives of everyone in our region cannot be underestimated.”
“I’m extremely proud of everything our team has accomplished over the past 15 years. The success of Civic Consulting Alliance is a reflection of the extraordinary commitment of Chicago’s business community to this region and the incredible people who have worked here over the years,” said Brian.

Brian will continue in his role until the search for a successor is complete. Learn more here.

  • We’ve been discovered! The Philadelphia Citizen recently ran a story, "Using Civic Leaders to Make Government Smarter." You can read the story here.
  • Principal Veenu Verma and West Side United presented to the Leadership Greater Chicago class of 2020 at an October 4th panel about community development on Chicago's West Side.
  • On October 26, Principal Eric Patton gave a presentation titled "Project Management as a Collaborative Approach to Reform" at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference.
  • Principal Meredith Sparks Ament gave a Spark Talk, "Building Blocks for a New, Inclusive Culture of Civic Leadership," at Upswell Chicago on November 15th.
  • ABC Channel 7 recently featured West Side United. Watch the segment here.
Questions? Comments? Contact Marie Akerman