The Commercial Club has long understood that O’Hare airport is the single most important transportation asset in the State of Illinois and the economic engine of the Chicago region. The Club’s advocacy for the O’Hare Modernization Program has been a three-decades-long epic story of local, regional, and even national politics, legal battles, negotiations, and brinksmanship that finally resulted in compromise, agreement, and success.
During our March luncheon, Commercial Club Chair Jenny Scanlon led a panel discussion with four of the key players who are driving the future of O’Hare. The panel included Steve Johnson, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs at American Airlines who serves on the Transportation Task Force; Gavin Molloy, Vice President of Corporate Real Estate at United Airlines, who sat on the panel in place of Brett Hart and oversees all planning, engineering and construction for United’s U.S. and international airport facilities; Jamie Rhee, Commissioner of the Department of Aviation, who reminded us of the changes that have taken place at O’Hare over the years with help from the Civic Committee, recognizing Lester Crown; and Juliane Wolf, Design Principal and Partner at Studio Gang, who serves as Deputy Lead Designer for the O’Hare Global Terminal and provided insight into the current status of the effort.
After the panelists gave brief intro remarks, they sat down for a discussion that dealt with topics that included the steps being taken at O’Hare and by the airlines to address the concerns in regards to the Corona virus, how the project will keep the healthy competition between American and United (i.e., lower fares, and increased connectivity to other markets) the best airports around the world, and how the current changes will make O’Hare one of the best.
Our guest speakers for the February luncheon were Austan Goolsbee, Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Kevin Warsh, Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution and Lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Austan was a key economic advisor to President Obama, serving as a member of his cabinet and as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, and Kevin served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and as a key economic advisor to President George W. Bush.
Given all the events that are occurring in today’s world - from the Coronavirus to trade wars with Europe and China to the impeachment and acquittal of a U.S. President -- it was beneficial to hear from two of our country’s leading economists on the current state of our economy and its prospects in light of current events and trends.
At the event, Jenny Scanlon, in her first meeting as the newly elected Chair of the Commercial Club, announced the executive transition at CCA as well as those of the Club and its Civic Committee. Brian Fabes, who has been a tremendous leader of CCA for the last fifteen years, has chosen to move on to the next stage in his career. Jenny, accompanied by Club members, thanked Brian for his many years of leadership at CCA. Jenny then introduced Rebekah Scheinfeld as the new President and CEO of CCA, who was appointed by a committee of the Club and CCA’s leadership after a national search. Rebecca has a great background for this role, having most recently served as the Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Transportation and having experience in the private sector as well. She has also been both a client of CCA and worked as a consultant for CCA. Jenny also introduced Rick Waddell, Retired Chairman & CEO, Northern Trust as the moderator and thanked him for his great leadership of the Commercial Club and Civic Committee since 2013, emphasizing that both organizations are in a great spot as we move forward due to his commitment and leadership.
Austan and Kevin then gave opening remarks regarding their time during the financial crisis and the current economic outlook. When finished, they sat down with Rick and discussed the state of our economy and provided their views and expectations for 2020 and beyond. This discussion included their thoughts on the impact of the trade wars and their predictions for the United States’ relationship with China moving forward; the impact of the Coronavirus on both China’s economy and the global economy; and implications for the economy between now and the election in November.
Our guest speaker for the January luncheon was Chicago Public Schools CEO, Dr. Janice K. Jackson, EdD.
As a former student, teacher, principal, network chief, and chief education officer, and now as chief executive officer, Dr. Janice K. Jackson has been immersed in Chicago Public Schools her entire life.
As CEO of the third largest school district in the country, Dr. Jackson is a forward-thinking educator who is focused on improving excellence, equity, and access to high-quality education in all CPS schools. Her efforts, along with those of Chicago’s dedicated teachers and principals, have propelled CPS students to record-breaking academic gains, and education experts across the country regard Chicago as a national leader in urban education.
At the event, Daniel Anello, Chief Executive Officer of Kids First Chicago (K1C) provided a brief overview of what initiatives Kids First and CPS have partnered together to accomplish. This included a new universal enrollment platform for CPS high schools. Previously there were 300 different high school applications and now there is one. In addition, they have worked together on the Annual Regional Analysis (ARA), a new unified fact base on all Pre-K to 12 students in Chicago Public Schools.
Dr. Jackson then presented her Five-Year Vision for CPS. The vision is a comprehensive, research-based roadmap that will strengthen the district’s commitments to academic progress, financial stability, integrity, and equity. After the update, Commercial Club chair Scott Santi and Dr. Jackson sat down and discussed her experiences during her time as CEO. She expressed the important role that communities and civic partners play in supporting the vision for CPS and its successful implementation.
Please click here to learn more about the Kids First Chicago.