April 2020
Dear partners, clients, funders, and colleagues,
I officially joined Civic Consulting Alliance as CEO and President just two weeks ago, on Monday, March 16th—starting my tenure working from home, as so many us have been since COVID-19 struck Chicago and our world.
While the circumstances are far from what I imagined originally, I am nevertheless thrilled to be part of the Civic Consulting Alliance team, and am energized to lead our organization through these challenging times. Now more than ever, Civic Consulting Alliance is committed to serving Chicago’s institutions, leaders, and residents.
Civic Consulting Alliance and our pro bono partners are working with government, private sector, and nonprofit stakeholders to ensure a strong and coordinated Chicago response to COVID-19. To date, Civic Consulting Alliance and its partners have begun work for the City of Chicago and Cook County to support multiple aspects of their responses to the COVID-19 crisis. In particular, we’re supporting efforts to develop and implement policy-based interventions to mitigate the social and economic impacts, including benchmarking of leading practices used by other geographies and engaging external stakeholders to inform decision-making.

This work would not be possible without the outpouring of offers of support we have received from our pro bono partners over the past several weeks. While the Civic Consulting Alliance team and our partners are working remotely, we are working tirelessly to support our clients, and expect our COVID-19 workload and our pro bono contributions to continue to grow. The needs of our region are changing rapidly, and Civic Consulting Alliance is well-positioned to help our clients meet this challenge—and to sustain our progress towards becoming an even more prosperous, equitable city. More information about how some of Civic Consulting Alliance's clients are responding to COVID-19 is described below.
In many ways, this situation highlights what makes Civic Consulting Alliance's model uniquely effective: our ability to marshal collaborative, pro bono investments to get big things done for Chicago, and to do so in a responsive manner that fully leverages our staff and our generous partners' resources. These qualities – flexibility, cross-sector collaboration, and a wealth of experience addressing Chicago’s most complex challenges – are the very attributes that drew me to Civic Consulting Alliance and this role.
I have spent more than two decades tackling challenging urban development issues through my work in both the public and private sectors. Indeed, I have the unique experience of working with Civic Consulting Alliance as both a pro bono partner – as an attorney at Mayer Brown – and as a client – as Chief Planning Officer at the Chicago Transit Authority, and most recently, as Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation. As a native Chicagoan, raised by family members with a deep civic commitment, I am passionate about Chicago, and am excited to have the opportunity to lead an organization that’s making a difference in my hometown.
I am grateful for the tremendous organization Brian Fabes built as Civic Consulting Alliance’s CEO of the past 15 years, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead Civic Consulting Alliance into its next phase. I also deeply appreciate the support of the many partners, clients, funders, and civic-minded individuals who make this ongoing work possible—many of whom I’ve already begun working closely with as we rapidly respond to the challenges that COVID-19 poses for our region.
Over the coming months, I look forward to getting to know many more of you, and to envisioning Civic Consulting Alliance’s future together. In the coming days and weeks, the Civic Consulting Alliance staff and I will be fully committed to helping our clients and our communities through this difficult period.
Thank you for your continued partnership and your commitment to our city. Together, we will continue to rise to the challenge.
All the best,

Our clients are rapidly mobilizing to respond to COVID-19, including the critical resources below:

  • City of Chicago's Coronavirus Response Center offers the latest information on the City's resources across a range of areas, including food, housing, utilities, and employment and financial support.
  • Cook County's Resources and Response to Coronavirus and the Cook County Department of Public Health highlight resources for residents and businesses, and updates on the County's response to the crisis.
  • Chicago Public Schools's Response to Coronavirus includes enrichment learning resources for parents and information about food assistance for families.
  • West Side United's COVID-19 Resources provides links and information on education tools, food resources, health guidance and small business needs.
  • Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities grantee Communities Partnering 4 Peace is pivoting to educate communities about COVID-19, in addition to continuing its gun violence prevention outreach
Questions? Comments? Contact Marie Akerman