Alaina Harkness is a community and economic development expert with broad interests in inclusive growth, institutional design and governance, organizational networks, and civic engagement. She is a managing director at RW Ventures, an economic development firm specializing in market-based inclusive growth, and founder of Civicana, a strategic advisory consultancy. She has published research and commentary for Brookings, CityLab, and the San Francisco Federal Reserve. She has a decade of foundation experience, serving as senior program officer for cities at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and program officer for two civic collaborations at the Chicago Community Trust: the Partnership for New Communities and the 2016 Fund for Chicago Neighborhoods. Prior to her career in philanthropy, her research focused on cultural policy, including a collaborative study of arts participation and audience engagement for the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center and independent research on an international network of community museums headquartered in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Harkness lives in Chicago and serves on the advisory boards of the Global Parliament of Mayors, the CityTech Collaborative, Urban Initiatives, and Margaret’s Village. She has also served on the city of Chicago’s Community Development Advisory Committee (appointed 2015-16) and the boards of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and Chicago Women in Philanthropy. Harkness holds masters degrees in public policy and Latin American studies from the University of Chicago and a bachelors degree in political science and art history from the University of Rochester. She is a 2014 fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago.