Civic Consulting Alliance:  Smart work.  Great city. 

January 2013 Update

Civic Consulting Alliance has invested more than $75 million in the things that matter most in Chicago in the last five years. We create, embed, and connect pro bono teams of business experts, government leaders, and our own staff to reshape the region.

Civic Consulting currently has 43 active projects.



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Partner feature: Dan Phelps, Northern Trust


 Dan Phelps

  Former Executive Vice President & General Auditor, Northern Trust Corporation

As a Senior Civic Fellow at Civic Consulting Alliance, I found an opportunity to provide value to Cook County with my 40 years of experience in audit, risk management, and governance.

When Civic Consulting Alliance approached Northern Trust about providing pro bono support, I had just set my year-end retirement, and my schedule was easing. The timing was perfect for me to contribute my skills to a project!

It was apparent when I met the Civic Consulting team that they had myriad projects underway to impact the community. It was refreshing and invigorating to learn about Civic Consulting's efforts to promote financial responsibility while enhancing programs that serve the area's residents, workers, and visitors. Meeting with City and County leaders, it didn't take long to identify projects relevant to my expertise.

Over the course of several months, I worked with the Cook County CFO, Director of Revenue, and Comptroller to develop innovative tax audit and risk management programs for the County. With these new programs, the County is in a better position to serve its constituents in the years to come.

I appreciated the unique opportunity afforded me to work on these important public projects, and I am proud to have used my expertise to help Cook County create strong internal practices.

Commission on School Utilization issues interim report



The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) says it has more than 100,000 empty seats throughout the city. As a result, the District spends its limited resources on maintenance and upkeep of dilapidated buildings, rather than on instruction and student resources such as libraries and playgrounds.


CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett appointed an independent, eight-member Commission on School Utilization to provide guidelines on how best to consolidate the District. Since November, the Commission has held 11 public meetings to gather community input that will inform the recommendations it offers to CPS.


Civic Consulting Alliance is staffing the Commission, and The PrivateBank is providing research support.



Earlier this month, the Commission published an interim report with nine initial recommendations for CPS. These recommendations include not closing high schools or Level 1 (high-performing) schools. The Commission is continuing to meet with community groups, and it will release its final report in March.


"Working on such an influential project has been an amazing experience, and I'm very grateful to be a part of it," said PrivateBank fellow Shawn Bradley. 


Read the interim report here.


For more information, please contact Brian Fabes.


CPS launches principal evaluations




Of all the factors that lead to effective schools, a high-quality principal is an immutable necessity. Great leaders attract, develop, and retain great teachers, transforming educational outcomes for students. Absent a high-quality principal, schools don't perform, and children don't learn.


Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has set as a goal to put a high-quality principal in every school by 2015, and Civic Consulting Alliance is supporting this goal by establishing a program management office to oversee, coordinate, and support 16 strategic initiatives that, together, make up the principal effectiveness program.



Most recently, CPS unveiled a new principal evaluation system, based on both student growth and principal practices, such as engaging communities and developing a continuous learning capability in the school building.


"This new system is....raising the bar in supporting school leaders in the work they do for our kids every day while holding them accountable for results," said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.


For more information, please contact Kelly Ruppel.


Catalyst Chicago: CPS unveils new principal evaluations


More students will benefit from a Dual Credit program that offers college-level courses in CPS high schools, Mayor Emanuel announced.


More than 250 students in six schools are currently enrolled in the program, which launched last spring. The program allows students to earn both high school and college credits without leaving their CPS classrooms. Next school year, the program will be expanded to 11 additional schools.


Mayor Emanuel noted that the dual enrollment program saves students money and positions them for future success, "Getting exposure to college: It not only saves you money. It gives you the confidence to go on."


The Dual Credit program was expanded last year with support from a team from Bain & Company and Civic Consulting Alliance.



The team researched best practices from other districts and provided project management and planning support to the City Colleges of Chicago, the Chicago Public Schools, and the Mayor's Office of Collaboration.


Jenny Song, a Senior Associate Consultant at Bain & Company who worked on the project, said, "It was incredibly rewarding to see the City Colleges, Chicago Public Schools, and Mayor's Office all come together to make the Dual Credit program happen."


For more information, please contact Carla Esteva.


Chicago Sun-Times: Students at 17 Chicago high schools to get chance to sharpen math, English skills


Crain's Chicago Business: Chicago high schools to expand college-credit program


Pro bono impact attracts top talent at all levels

Civic Consulting Alliance offers an opportunity for civic impact across sectors not found anywhere else in Chicago. This level of impact attracts the most talented people at each level of experience, from entry level to experienced professional.


To given you a sense of the range of participation, consider a few of the individuals starting in the past few weeks:

  • Allison Sackett and Shawn Bradley begin their early-career fellowships, on loan from the credit analysis pool, thanks to a new partnership with The PrivateBank
  • Bina Patel, former managing director at the Grand Victoria Foundation and deputy chief of staff for Mayor Daley, and Avani Patel, previously on the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, began mid-career fellowships
  • Allyson Laackman joined us as a principal; she was the chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama at Obama's Re-election Campaign and CFO for the Executive Office of the President 

In coming months, look for updates from 19 people on pro bono teams that have kicked off in the past month:

  • Three consulting teams
  • One law firm
  • One architecture firm
  • One PR firm

Would you like to take on a new project? Do you know somebody or a company who'd be excited by our mission? Drop us a line.


For more information, please contact Alexander Gail Sherman.