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Inaugural Class of Economic Growth Fellows Meet with Mayor Emanuel

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with the inaugural class of Fellows on loan from Chicago area companies to support implementation of Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs (PEGJ).  This month, Fellows began their full-time, three-to-six-month commitment working with World Business Chicago (WBC) on launching initiatives from PEGJ’s ten transformative strategies.

“I am grateful to our business community for lending us some of their top talent to help shape Chicago’s economic development,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This inaugural class brings new resources and knowledge to accelerate the Plan’s key economic growth initiatives, which are essential for Chicago to compete in the global economy.”

The first round of Fellows and the strategies they will implement include (full bios here):

Steven F. Brown, DeVry Inc.; Workforce Development

Elliot Kadar, United Airlines; Transportation & Logistics

Gregory Karczewski, Mesirow Financial; Infrastructure

Christopher Nelson, Comcast; Neighborhood Assets (broadband)

Jennifer Nowacki, Zurich in North America; Headquarters

Jeff Schaffer, Ernst & Young LLP; Transportation & Logistics

Kevin Schumm, Deloitte Consulting LLP; Exports

Kenneth R. Shogren, The PrivateBank; Neighborhood Assets (crowdfunding)

The group will gain unique access to public and private sector networks and have the chance to greatly impact Chicago as they work with the Plan’s strategy leadership teams, along with full-time staff within WBC, and leadership from the Civic Consulting Alliance, Metropolis Strategies and other key organizations. In turn, the city will benefit from highly-skilled talent, with the proven ability to enact significant plans and initiatives. Former director of the White House Internship Program, Melissa McNeal, leads the Fellowship Program.

“We welcome the inaugural class of Fellows and look forward to utilizing their expertise as we continue to develop and implement initiatives inside the various strategies,” said Michael Sacks, Vice Chairman of World Business Chicago. “The Plan serves as a blueprint for the region’s economic development efforts and by contributing these Fellows, companies are providing us with the critical resources needed to make a real impact for economic growth and job creation.”

The first round of Fellows was chosen after a significant application process including an essay, letter of support from current employers, three letters of recommendation, and an interview. Applications are currently being accepted for the second class of Fellows, who will start in May. The application deadline is March 1; application materials can be found on the WBC website. Ideal applicants are manager-level “rising stars” within sponsor organizations, with distinctive overall performance and a graduate degree or three-to-five years of experience in an industry related to one of the strategies. Fellows must possess excellent project management skills; experience presenting to and leading discussions with senior leadership; strong analytical, problem-solving, influencing, interpersonal, oral communications and writing skills; and a passion for civic engagement.

Sponsor organizations can include corporations and businesses, non-profits, public sector entities, or universities and must commit to an in-kind donation of full-time pro bono support for three-to-six months.

The Fellows’ commitment will be centered on launching WBC initiatives from PEGJ’s ten transformative strategies:

  • Become a leading manufacturing hub
  • Increase attractiveness as a center for business services and headquarters
  • Become more competitive as a leading transportation and logistics hub
  • Make Chicago a premier destination for tourism and entertainment
  • Make Chicago a nationally leading exporter
  • Create demand-driven and targeted workforce development
  • Foster innovation in mature and emerging sectors and support entrepreneurship
  • Invest to create next-generation infrastructure
  • Develop and deploy neighborhood assets to align with regional economic growth
  • Create an environment in which businesses can flourish

For more information about the Fellowship Program, or a copy of the Plan, visit

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