Last month, the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy (CLA) revealed its 2016 class of 30 promising leaders from Chicago and Cook County government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Among the 2016 fellows are professionals from fields ranging from law to public health to juvenile justice.
The University began the CLA last year to bring together nonprofit and government professionals in promoting an exchange of ideas within the UChicago community and around Chicago in the hopes of improving the city. The University committed to continue supporting the program in the memorandum of understanding it recently signed with Chicago.
“High-potential leaders are constantly busy handling urgent issues and rarely have the time to be reflective and grow their own leadership. CLA is important because it allows individuals to carve out and protect this time. It is also a way that the University of Chicago can be a partner in addressing civic issues that impact the city,” CLA director Joanie Friedman said.
After government and nonprofit agencies from the area nominated their employees in the fall of 2015, the applicants went through a three-stage process ending in an advisory council selecting the final class of fellows. Various leaders from the nonprofit, government, philanthropic, and civic sectors, as well as the University, make up the advisory council.
The Office of Civic Engagement runs the program with assistance from a number of other University and city groups, including the Harris School of Public Policy, the Booth School of Business, the City of Chicago, and Cook County.
The six-month CLA program began on January 14. The program begins with a weeklong global practicum at the University of Chicago Center in Delhi and ends with a capstone project that addresses challenges facing their organizations. After completing the program, the fellows receive a certificate in civic leadership from the Harris School.
One Class of 2016 fellow is Fanny Diego Alvarez, who serves as director of community schools at the nonprofit Enlace Chicago, and works on the implementation and evaluation of programs and initiatives at schools in Chicago’s West Side neighborhood Little Village.
Alvarez is excited about the collaborative aspect of the CLA program.
“Improving the quality of life for all people in Chicago can be achieved by working with multiple stakeholders, forming cross-sector partnerships, and with communities leading the way. The relationships that will form will transform the way that we think and work,” she said.