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Emerging Leaders Program

The Chicago Council, with the support of The Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Foundation, seeks to identify the next class of Emerging Leaders: a diverse group of exceptional individuals who will lead the city in the 21st century, who are in tune with global trends, and who can spot and react smartly to the fast-paced events that will shape Chicago’s future. These leaders must be global citizens in every sense, with roots in Chicago’s soil, but with a gaze that spans beyond oceans and borders. The Council seeks to reflect in the selection of fellows the diversity of the Chicago community that is vital to the city’s global future.  

This is a two year program. During the first year, ELs will attend an introductory full-day retreat followed by monthly half-day seminars, a variety of dinner briefings with global affairs experts, and other events that allow the fellows to interact with each other, the Council board, and Chicagoland’s global leaders. The seminars offer in-depth discussions of issues such as the global economy; a rising China; environmental challenges; and the geopolitics of U.S. foreign policy. The dinner briefings are designed around the preferences and priorities of the Class’ members so that they can gain insight into issues of direct importance to them. The Chicago Council also looks for opportunities to include ELs in ongoing Chicago Council activities and exclusive meetings, to the extent that the fellow’s interests and availability make this possible.

A short trip to Washington, DC, at the beginning of the second year will give the ELs the opportunity to interact directly with the policy makers who are guiding our country. Throughout the second year of the program, ELs work in small groups with Chicago Council staff to define, develop, and produce policy papers on pressing global challenges confronting today’s leaders. Each group will present their findings at a Chicago Council public event at the end of the two-year program.


Chicago Council Selects 22 Emerging Leaders who will Strengthen Chicago’s Status as a Global City, 7/8/2014

Chicago Council Report Outlines Big Data Strategies to Improve City Services, 6/17/2014

"Professor Named 'Emerging Leader'," Brian Edwards (Class of 2015) Interview with Northwestern University, November 2013

Urban Food Security: Ideas and Action for Municipal Leaders, 8/16/2013

A Better Chicago and ELP Ventures Announce Strategic Partnership, 6/27/2013
The Emerging Power of Big Data: The Chicago ExperienceThe Emerging Power of Big Data: The Chicago Experience6/17/2014 

Feeding an Urban World: A Call to ActionFeeding an Urban World: A Call to Action, Emerging Leaders Perspectives Report6/19/2013 

ELP Ventures:Supporting Innovation in Public Education for Chicago’s Global FutureClass of 2010 Emerging Leaders Perspectives Report6/19/2012 

Moving Forward: The Immigration Debate and Chicago’s ExperienceClass of 2009 Emerging Leaders Perspectives Report10/18/2011 

No Free Money: Is the Privatization of Infrastructure in the Public Interest?Class of 2008 Emerging Leaders Perspectives Report9/23/2010 

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