Civic Consulting Alliance:  Smart work.  Great city. 

March 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 39 active projects.



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"Pro bono projects: A living lab to test new tools" --Kevin Brockenbrough, Burrell


Kevin Brockenbrough


Vice President / Associate Director, Account Planning,

Burrell Communications

My job as a strategist often calls for me to get someone to open up and show me the world through his or her eyes. When Burrell's co-CEO, Fay Ferguson, approached me about working with Civic Consulting Alliance on One Summer Chicago, an effort for Chicago's youth, I knew that it would be important for the adults writing the teen-targeted messaging to see the world through a teen's eyes.


While sitting in a board room full of sociologists, activists, and officials from both Chicago Public Schools and the City of Chicago, I decided to see what could be learned by having these knowledgeable adults role-play and talk to us as if they themselves were the teens they hoped to reach.




We used a simple device called an Empathy Map. On a sheet of paper, we had an image of a child surrounded by large areas labeled "Thinking," "Seeing," "Hearing," "Feeling," and "Saying." The assignment was to give each child a name and then jot down what he or she was experiencing, from that person's point of view. The goal was to create empathy for our intended audience. What does this person want? What motivates him or her? What can we do to help them?


The advantage of using this tool on a pro bono project was that I got to work out the kinks before applying the same exercise during focus groups involving African American men, held for one of our commercial clients.


While we work on pro bono projects to give back to our community, they also provide a living laboratory to test new marketing tools. This can be a win-win for both the community and the corporate partner.


"A thoughtful analysis of the how and why of school closings" --Chicago Tribune



The independent Commission on School Utilization, appointed by CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, released its final report with guidelines on how best to consolidate the District.


Adding to the nine recommendations in the Commission's interim report, the final report made five recommendations, including one, overriding recommendation: CPS should only close schools where students can be transferred safely into better-performing schools.



The Commission was staffed over its four-month charter by a joint Civic Consulting / PrivateBank team, consisting of 4 Civic Consulting Alliance staff and 2 interns from The PrivateBank.


"I was so excited to have the opportunity to work on such an important project for the Chicago Public School system," said Allison Sackett, a PrivateBank fellow at Civic Consulting Alliance. "In only a few weeks, I was able to learn so much."

For more information, please contact Brian Fabes.


County launches car sharing program



Credit Suisse



Cook County government launched an integrated fleet and car sharing program with Zipcar, Inc., expected to save County taxpayers $250,000 in annual vehicle costs and travel reimbursements. The partnership will promote energy efficiency and sustainability by reducing the number of vehicles on the road over time.


Messrs. Ben Sher and Jimmy Flaherty, both investment bankers in Credit Suisse's Chicago office, led the project team and are responsible for Credit Suisse's work with the Civic Consulting Alliance. "Credit Suisse was excited about this opportunity to partner with Cook County. Strong corporate citizenship is core to the values of our firm and our office," said Todd Noffke, Co-Head of Credit Suisse's Chicago Investment Banking office.




The new program, called "Shared Fleet," outfits existing County-owned vehicles with Zipcar's proprietary FastFleet fleet sharing technology, as well as offering County employees discounted access to Zipcars.


The pro bono investment builds on Civic Consulting and partners' work to close Cook County budget gaps, supporting a 1% decrease in the sales tax since 2010. Sher and Flaherty reiterated Mr. Noffke's sentiments about corporate citizenship and stressed that they look forward to continuing to work with the Civic Consulting Alliance and partner with leadership in our local governments.


For more information, please contact Shruti Jayaraman.


Government Fleet: Cook County and Zipcar Launch Shared Fleet Program


Patient wait time cut 25%

Gregory Kurth

Anne Leyden

Wait times are down 25% at the largest primary care clinic in the County, thanks to a pilot program Civic Consulting Alliance and our partners helped the Cook County Health and Hospitals System launch.

Clerks from the General Medicine Clinic generated ideas to redesign the patient flow process, reducing the number of steps from 9 to 3. This change not only reduced wait times, but also eliminated patient complaints and allowed staff to focus more on individual patients' needs. Managers from this and other pilot departments now act as peer coaches for other managers in the Health System.

This work is part of a larger effort, where more than 10 partners--including Bain & Company, Cannon Design, Global Economics Group, Inward Strategic Consulting, Gregory Kurth, Anne Leyden, McKinsey & Company, Navigant ConsultingStrategic Talent Solutions, and Zeno Group--are collaborating to re-shape the Cook County Health and Hospitals System in preparation for a post-Affordable Care Act environment. The Health System is the safety net for hundreds of thousands of underserved residents and is critical to the financial sustainability of the region's other hospitals.


Anne Leyden, a former senior HR executive, and Kelly Luckasevic, a McKinsey Civic Fellow, partnered with nursing and clerical managers and with senior hospital leaders who acted as "Champions" for the pilots.


"I am proud to be part of a community that doesn't just talk about the importance of building civic and business partnerships--it makes them happen every day," said Anne Leyden. 


For more information, please contact Shruti Jayaraman.

Get involved: Big Data Week
Participating organizations:


Come see Chicago at the forefront of the global big data race! Big Data Week (April 22-28) will feature our unique combination of academe, industry, and government presenting real applications of data science.

Does your company have big data experience you want to share? There are still a few opportunities left to join a panel, give a talk, or host an event. 

As a host city for Big Data Week, Chicago will feature our collective accomplishments at events across the City and County, including announcements from the City, County, and State and presentations, roundtables, meetups, hackathons, lectures, and networking opportunities that bring together a variety of sectors. 


If you'd like to get involved, please contact Christian Hines.