Year in Review
2013 – 2014
This year marked an exciting turning point in The Chicago Council’s 92-year history. We welcomed a new president, received our single largest grant ever, developed a new strategic vision, and expanded our research capabilities in areas like the global economy, global security and defense, and global energy.Watch the year-in-review video
In July 2013, The Chicago Council welcomed Ambassador Ivo H. Daalder as its 13th president.
A widely recognized expert in American foreign policy and European security and transatlantic relations, Daalder came to the Council following a four-year posting as US ambassador to NATO. In April, the Council announced that Glenn F. Tilton, formerly chairman and CEO of United Airlines and Texaco and chairman of the Midwest for JP Morgan Chase, had been named executive vice chairman of its board of directors. Tilton will eventually succeed Lester Crown who has served as chairman of the Council since 2004.
Over the past year, Daalder has worked with Crown, Tilton, the board of directors, and staff to develop a new strategic vision to ensure when The Chicago Council marks its 100th anniversary in 2022 it is recognized – not just locally and regionally but nationally and globally – as one of the premier world affairs institutions in the country. The Council was ranked as the #11 "Think Tank to Watch" by the University of Pennsylvania’s 2013 Global Go To Think Tank Index.
Generous support from members, foundations, and Chicago’s top civic, corporate, and philanthropic leaders this year made it possible for The Chicago Council to organize and host more than 200 public and leadership programs and to influence important policy debates through studies, public opinion surveys, conferences, and task forces. In 2013-14, individuals provided more than $4.6 million in support, corporations more than $2.9 million, and foundations more than $2.6 million.
In August 2013, the Council received a $3 million, multi-year grant – the single largest in its history – from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its work on US global agricultural development and food security policy. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation provided more than $1 million in support of various projects, and The Chicago Community Trust, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Dr. Scholl Foundation, and other foundations also provided significant support in 2013-14.
We expect the 2014-15 program season, now underway, to be as exciting and transformational as 2013-14. In September, we will release the findings of our 2014 Chicago Council Survey of American opinion on the US role in the world. For the first time in a decade, we have surveyed elite opinion alongside the public. The first of these surveys was published 40 years ago; moving forward, the Council will conduct the survey annually.
Michele Wucker, president of the World Policy Institute, will join us in September as our new vice president of studies and will spearhead our efforts to generate new ideas and influence policy debates in the United States and abroad. In October, we will launch a new website, incorporating responsive design, more video, and other interactive features. Our Chicago Forum on Global Cities, planned for May 2015, will convene international leaders from the four pillars of urban life – commerce, education, civics, and culture – to discuss trends facing global cities in the 21st century.
Influencing Policy Debates
Throughout 2013-14, Chicago Council studies and reports influenced policy discussions on climate change and food security, US public opinion on foreign policy, immigration, and global cities. Council fellows and experts also provided commentary on Syria, Ukraine, Iran, and Iraq; the global economy and trade; and global energy.
Educating the Public
The Chicago Council continues to be the go-to place for world leaders and other international experts to engage with the Chicago community. We partner with hundreds of civic organizations, cultural institutions, professional associations, and universities throughout the year to expand the reach of our public education programs. In 2013-14, we hosted more than 200 public and leadership programs with a total attendance of more than 38,000.
Recognizing that the next generation of Chicago’s leaders is increasingly global – in their interests and responsibilities – the Council has significantly expanded its efforts to engage younger audiences through its Emerging Leaders and Young Professionals Programs.
In September, the Council welcomed 21 individuals from, among others, the Boston Consulting Group, Credit Suisse Securities, Jones Lang LaSalle, Northwestern University, and United Airlines as its 2015 Class of Emerging Leaders. They spent the first year of the two-year program examining key global issues that affect the world and Chicago’s global future. In June, the Emerging Leaders Class of 2014 released a report on the power of big data to improve the lives of Chicagoans and residents of other global cities. Using Chicago as a model, the report outlines big data strategies for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of cities around the world.
Chicago Council Young Professional members live and work in a global marketplace and understand that to succeed they need current, behind-the-headlines information about what’s happening in the world. YP membership is up from 500 in 2011 to more than 1,900 today, and YP event attendees totaled more than 6,000 in 2013-14. This year’s Next Generation Discussion series and YP Conversations fostered professional development and networking and allowed YP members to consider global topics and share personal experiences. Annual social gatherings, like the New Year Party and town hall conversation with Chicago Council President Ivo H. Daalder in January and the Global Affairs Pub Quiz in June, drew huge crowds.