Civic Consulting Alliance:  Smart work.  Great city. 

August 2012 Update

Civic Consulting Alliance invests more than $10 million in the things that matter most in Chicago. We create, embed, and connect pro bono teams of business experts, government leaders, and our own staff to reshape the region.

In Fiscal Year 2012, the partnership provided nearly $14 million in services. Currently, 59 projects are active.



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Civic Consulting Partnership Invests $14 Million 




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Sixty-one companies contributed their time and talent to the public sector last fiscal year, along with an additional 189 organizations whose employees advised on panels, steering committees, and boards. Altogether, Civic Consulting Alliance and our partners provided nearly $14 million in pro bono service.    


Together, our clients, Chicago's business community, and our staff worked on some of the most pressing challenges--and opportunities--our region faces, resulting in headlines such as: 


No other city has the infrastructure that the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club has built through its Civic Consulting partnership. The impact of this model has attracted international attention. We often receive calls asking for help in setting up similar organizations. The Federal government used Civic Consulting as a template for its Strong Cities Strong Communities program and said, "We are looking at Civic Consulting as a national model"; Governing Magazine noted that "Civic Consulting takes pro bono consulting to a new level"; and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government named Civic Consulting one of the top 25 innovations in government. 

Our success results from our committed clients, an extraordinary business community, and talented staff.  This newsletter edition will focus on the partners, clients, fellows, and alumni who make this great work possible.


Click here to download our Fiscal Year 2012 Scorecard.

For more information, contact Brian Fabes.



61 Ways to Impact Chicago 

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Nick Pierce & Associates, Inc.


"The possibilities for corporate involvement in our community are tremendous--and the need is greater now than ever before," said Michael Scimo, Managing Director of Accenture in Chicago and North American Human Capital and Diversity Lead.


Chicago's business community is stepping up to this challenge. In fiscal year 2012, Civic Consulting worked with 250 organizations from a range of industries, including: law, tax and financial services, consulting and strategy, marketing, graphic design, technology, engineering, academia, and many more



Partners have provided crucial resources in a variety of roles:


  • McDonald's and Xerox provided IT experts to help implement a data sharing proof of concept
  • Jones Day provided lawyers to support the Ethics Reform Task Force 
  • Allstate helped coordinate a multi-agency effort to solicit community feedback for an anti-violence initiative
  • ComEd helped Cook County save $2.5 million in energy costs 

"Talented and passionate people want to have an impact not just in the workplace but also in the community," said Jim Rechtin, Partner at Bain & Company. "Civic Consulting helps us give our people opportunities to do this." 


Public Leaders Collaborate to Transform the Region 


"Civic Consulting Alliance is a great example of how the business community in Chicago works," Mayor Emanuel said recently, "not just by writing checks, but by rolling up their sleeves and using their talents to improve our city."  


Our clients create an environment that allows pro bono partners to transform institutions. For example, City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Cheryl Hyman has provided invaluable leadership on Reinvention, an effort to remake the City Colleges to maximize student success.  


Our clients are also diverse. We regularly work with the Mayor's Office, the Police Department, Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges, Chicago Transit Authority, and the Cook County President's Office.  



As a result of our collaboration with these leaders:

  • A grandmother in Englewood is now able to sit on her porch at night without worrying about gunshots;
  • An unemployed office worker from North Lawndale has been retrained as a medical technician;
  • A high school football player was able to start practice last week; and 
  • Taxpayers from across the region have been saved tens of millions of dollars from this past year's work alone. 

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle expects Civic Consulting to remain a major player in improving government services: "Civic Consulting's expertise and ability to link the County with pro bono resources has allowed us to set an ambitious vision of transforming Cook County into the best-run County in America. As we execute on that vision, help from Civic Consulting and their partners will be critical to our success."  


29 Chicagoans Who Make a Difference 



Allstate Insurance Company 


Bain & Company


The Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago

The Harris School at the University of Chicago 





"Thank you for letting me work on the best project of my career," Jonathan Hayward, a Civic Consulting McDonald's Fellow, emailed to his project team recently. Civic Consulting's fellows are key to our partnership's success.  


In the last fiscal year, Civic Consulting hosted 29 fellows of various types, ranging from recent college graduates to experienced executives. 


Some fellows join us for 11 weeks over the summer, while others join us for one year after completing undergraduate degrees.


Companies (see list to left) loan fellows for 3 - 12 months. Finally, professionals join us as Experienced Civic Fellows and leverage their years of experience to support our work.



All of our fellows have the opportunity to work alongside senior management and public sector leaders to help find enduring solutions to challenges in local government. This year, our fellows helped plan and execute major projects such as:


  • Coordinating a campaign to improve the relationship between youth and law enforcement 
  • Creating an inter-agency database to reduce violent crime 
  • Researching best practices to make Chicago a convention capital while reducing the city's carbon footprint
  • Benchmarking other cities' cultural agencies to shape Chicago's cultural strategy
  • Shaping the plan for the city's first-ever Office of New Americans 

Our fellows are a valuable part of our partnership, and their work helps make Chicago more affordable, competitive, and livable.  


Alumni Take On Public Leadership Roles 

 Donald J. Laackman


Don Laackman




























Lydia A. Murray


Lydia Murray  

Don Laackman, Civic Consulting alumnus and President of Harold Washington College, has played a central role in implementing the City Colleges of Chicago's Reinvention initiative, the most extensive community college transformation effort in the nation.


While a Principal at Civic Consulting, Don worked with multiple partners (Accenture, CDW, KPMG LLP, Lantern Partners, and McKinsey & Company) to help Chancellor Cheryl Hyman design and launch Reinvention. Since starting at Harold Washington College, Don oversaw the implementation of a number of Reinvention recommendations to improve the registration process, leading to significant improvements in student satisfaction.


In Don's first full academic year at Harold Washington College (2011/2012), 514 students graduated, 80 graduates more than the previous year and almost 300 more than in 2008.   


Don has also overseen the launch of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program, which educated a first cohort of 37 established entrepreneurs about growing their businesses and creating new jobs for Chicagoans. The second cohort has started with an additional 27 businesses, and the team is actively recruiting the third cohort.


Don has also led the launch of the Mayoral and Chancellor initiative, College to Careers, at Harold Washington College, which will focus on programs related to business, professional services and entrepreneurship.



Lydia Murray, Chief Information Officer of Cook County, is also building on work she began at Civic Consulting Alliance. As an Associate Principal at Civic Consulting, Lydia helped Cook County pass a budget closing a $487 million gap and launch an unprecedented performance management initiative alongside partners Downtown Partners Chicago, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and The Boston Consulting Group. 


As Cook County CIO, Lydia will be responsible for implementing new cost saving tools based on her previous efforts to help find $33.4 million in savings through City and County collaboration.



Civic Consulting alumni are leaders in the public and private sphere and have made many contributions to the civic life of Chicago. To see all our former staff, click here.