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World Business Chicago and Mayor Emanuel Announce Fellowship Program to Advance Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and World Business Chicago (WBC) today announced that applications are now being accepted for a new Fellowship Program to support Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs. Fellows will have the opportunity to shape the region’s economic future, while gaining unmatched hands-on leadership experience implementing the strategies of the Plan.

“One of Chicago’s biggest strengths is its talented workforce,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This new Fellowship Program allows us to tap some of the best and the brightest minds – and engage our city’s future leaders. The Fellows will help shape Chicago’s economic development by implementing the Plan’s key economic growth initiatives, which are essential to for the City to compete in the global economy.”

Since being announced last February, The Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs has generated acclaim for its detailed analysis of the region’s assets and weaknesses. The Plan serves as a blueprint for the region’s economic development efforts and includes transformative strategies for economic growth and job creation.

“This is a great opportunity for corporations and their young rising stars to contribute to the growth and vitality of the city,” said Michael Sacks, vice chairman of World Business Chicago, the Plan’s oversight organization. “This program will help develop the next generation of civic minded leaders, connecting talented individuals to one another and to the most important economic development efforts taking place.”

Already, ten companies have committed Fellows to the program. Those companies include Comcast, Deloitte, DeVry, Ernst & Young, Grainger, Mesirow Financial, Reznick Group, Sagence Group, United Airlines and Zurich North America.

The first full group of Fellows, on loan pro bono from sponsor organizations for a three-to-six-month period beginning in January, will gain unique access to public and private sector networks and have the chance to greatly impact Chicago. 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, was hired to run the Fellows Program.

“We are fortunate to have an incredibly engaged business community in Chicago,” said Rita Athas, president of World Business Chicago. “Our private sector’s loyalty to Chicago is imperative to our economic development efforts, and this Fellowship Program will provide one more way for our corporate community to give back and help advance our city.”

“The Fellows program is a natural fit for Ernst & Young,” said Kelly Grier, Ernst & Young LLP’s Chicago Office Managing Partner. “We are committed to helping our professionals advance their careers through stretch experiences; and we are passionate about contributing to growth and job creation in our community. This program is a great opportunity to invest in our talent and be a part of building a better Chicago.”

“Deloitte is committed to doing its part to help Chicago maintain its leadership position in our regional economy,” said Deb DeHaas, World Business Chicago board member and vice chairman, Central region managing partner and chief inclusion officer for Deloitte LLP.  “We’re proud to donate the business and operational skills of our professionals to this very important initiative.”

In August, WBC announced the Plan’s strategy leadership teams, assembled to ensure that the strategies translate into meaningful action. These teams are charged with the oversight and coordination of each of the Plan’s 10 strategies. Fellows will support specific teams, along with full-time staff within WBC, as well as leadership from the Civic Consulting Alliance, Metropolis Strategies and other key local organizations.

Ideal applicants for the Fellowship Program 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. Sponsor organizations must commit to an in-kind donation of full-time pro bono support for three-to-six months.

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

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