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They heard from experts on issues such as the global economy, international diplomacy, energy, and the environment. In addition to meeting regularly as a class, they worked on individual projects with Council experts to examine key global challenges.

This cohort of leaders from around Chicago was chosen by an independent selection committee from a highly competitive pool of applicants.

Learn more about the Emerging Leaders Program.

Class of 2011

William D. Burns

Alderman, 4th Ward
City of Chicago

William was elected alderman of Chicago's 4th Ward in 2011. He previously served as an Illinois Representative and also serves as vice president of Conlon Public Strategies. Previously, he worked for the Office of the Senate President, the Chicago Urban League, and the Metropolitan Planning Council. He was named one of America’s 30 leaders of the future by Ebony Magazine in 2005 and was a American Marshall Memorial Fellow in 2001. He earned both his B.A. in law, letters, and society and his M.A. in social sciences from the University of Chicago.

Sean Casten

President and Chief Executive Officer
Recycled Energy Development, LLC

Prior to cofounding Recycled Energy Development LLC in 2007, Sean served as president and Chief Executive Officer of Turbosteam Corporation. The 2007 chairman of the U.S. Clean Heat and Power Association and a board member of the Casten Family Foundation, Sean has published numerous articles and testified before Congress on clean energy policies and technology. He earned his B.A. in molecular biology and biochemistry from Middlebury College and his M.S. in biochemical engineering and masters of engineering management from the Dartmouth College Thayer School of Engineering.

Paul D. Christensen

Associate Dean; Executive Director, Global Programs; and Clinical Associate Professor of Finance
Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Prior to becoming a faculty member of the finance department at Northwestern University, Paul was the president and COO of ShoreCap Management, an international private equity company based in London. He also led Shorebank Enterprise Group, an economic development organization in Cleveland, and worked for McKinsey & Company in Pittsburgh. He earned his B.A. in economics from Dartmouth College, where he received the Rockefeller Prize in Economics, and his M.B.A. with distinction from Cornell University.

Lillian Daniel

Senior Minister
First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ

Lillian became the Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Glen Ellyn, in 2004. She is also the co-host of “30 Good Minutes” on Channel 11, the author of the 2006 book, Tell It Like It Is: Reclaiming the Practice of Testimony, and co-author of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers in 2009. She has taught preaching at three seminaries, is a trustee of the Chicago Theological Seminary, and board president of Arise (formerly Chicago Interfaith Committee for Worker Issues.) The daughter of a foreign correspondent, she lived in many countries around the world. She earned her A.B. from Bryn Mawr College, her M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and her D.Min. from Hartford Seminary.

Tony Davis

Managing Partner
Linden Capital Partners

Tony serves as a managing partner of Linden Capital Partners and has more than fifteen years of principle investing and consulting experience. He is a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), president of Americans United in Support of Democracy, and a member and former President of CityPAC. He earned his B.A. in philosophy and economics from Northwestern University and his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

Evelyn J. Diaz

Commissioner, Department of Family & Support Services
City of Chicago

Evelyn was recently named commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services, after serving as the chief executive officer of the Chicago Workforce Investment Council. Previously, she was selected as deputy chief of staff in 2007 where she led the creation of the Chicago LEADS initiative, chaired the City’s Green Jobs Initiative, and oversaw health, human services, and employment investments. Prior to joining the Mayor’s office, she worked for the Chicago Jobs Council. She earned her B.A. in English literature from the University of Notre Dame and her M.A. in social service administration from the University of Chicago.

Prithvi S. Gandhi

Director of Corporate Development
Dover Corporation

Prithvi recently joined Dover Corp. where he is responsible for corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic investments. He previously worked at Zebra Technologies and Morgan Stanley. Prithvi earned his B.S. in mathematics and economics from the University of California at Berkeley, his M.A. in international economics from Georgetown University, and his M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business.

Jeanne Gang

Principal and Founder
Studio Gang Architects

Jeanne, a 2011 MacArthur Fellow, is the principle architect of Studio Gang Architects, a Chicago-based firm that has been recognized internationally for its innovation in design. She also serves as an adjunct professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology and has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. She received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2006 and is a 2009 Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. She earned her B.S. in architecture from the University of Illinois, her Master of Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and studied urban design in Switzerland.

Barbara A. Higgins

Senior Vice President, Customer Experience & Retention
Allstate Insurance Company

Previous to joining Allstate, Barbara was Vice President, Customer Experience at United Airlines, where she led the global Customer Experience function and managed contact center operations in nine countries. Barbara joined United Airlines in 2007 after a 19-year career working for the Walt Disney Company, most recently as the vice president for operations integration and planning at Disneyland Resort Paris. She is a member of the Lincoln Park Zoo board of directors and the Cornell Hotel Society. She earned her B.S. from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and her M.B.A. from the University of Florida.

Thomas M. Levinson

Reed Smith LLP

Tom is a lawyer at Reed Smith, where he focuses on regulatory and complex commercial litigation. He also serves as Counsel for Interfaith Youth Core. He authored the 2003 book All That’s Holy: A Young Guy, an Old Car, and the Search for God in America, has written numerous articles, and been an on-air essayist on the Hallmark Channel about religion in America. He was a 2008 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow. He earned his BA from Princeton University, his master’s in theological studies from the Harvard Divinity School and his JD from the University of Chicago Law School.

Joseph McCluskey

Vice President, International Operations
Grainger International, W.W. Grainger, Inc.

Joseph first joined W.W. Grainger Inc. in 1990 and is responsible for developing and implementing international strategies in the Asia Pacific region for Grainger. He has significant international experience, and has worked extensively in China, Japan, and South Korea. He earned his M.B.A. from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

John E. McGovern III

Executive Vice President
Resolute Consulting

John joined Resolute Consulting in 2007 focusing on strategic communications in the public policy arena and providing expertise in navigating complex decision-making processes in Illinois and Washington, D.C. He previously worked for U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and served as the executive director of Keep Our Majority PAC; he also has extensive experience as a campaign manager and communications director. He is a board member of Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, the Field Museum’s President Leadership Council, Rush University Medical Center Associates, and the Next Generation Leadership Advisory Council for the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid. He earned his A.B. in American history and American studies from Princeton University and his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law.

Tanya Menon

Associate Professor of Behavioral Science
University of Chicago Graduate School of Business

Tanya joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2000, and has taught in France, India, Singapore, Italy, and Spain. She has won multiple teaching awards, and has incorporated nonprofit consulting into her classes. Her articles on cross-cultural psychology have been sponsored by the Kauffman and Templeton foundations. She is associate editor for the Journal Management Science and was an American Marshall Memorial Fellow in 2004. She earned her B.A. in sociology from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in organizational behavior from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

John J. Murray

Accenture – Management Consulting

John Murray is a partner in Accenture’s Management Consulting group, focused on its Chicago area client base. Prior to joining Accenture in 2010, John spent three and a half years as the chief bid officer for the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid, where he was part of the executive leadership team. John joined the bid after spending six years as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, based in Chicago and serving clients globally. John also served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He holds an MBA in Marketing & International Business and a BS in Political Science, both from the University of Illinois. A life-long Chicagoan, John is deeply committed to supporting and strengthening the city’s global competitiveness. He chairs the Advisory Board for the Chicago Sports Commission and serves on the boards of World Sport Chicago and the American Ireland Fund.

Brent Neiman

Assistant Professor of Economics
University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business

Brent joined the Booth School in 2008 and teaches a course called international financial policy. Previously, he served as staff economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and at McKinsey & Company. He is a member of the auxiliary board for Teach for America in Chicago. He earned his B.S. in economics from the Wharton School and his Bachelor of Applied Science from the School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, his M.Sc. in mathematical modeling from Oxford University, and his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

Milena Novy-Marx

Program Officer
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Milena joined the Foundation in 2003 and co-led a two-year effort to develop the Foundation’s Initiative on Global Migration and Human Mobility. She also manages the Foundation's work on international development, where she has led an effort to create a new, interdisciplinary Master's in Development Practice degree at universities worldwide. She previously worked for the World Bank, USAID, and as an economic consultant on anti-trust issues. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former board member of the African Economic Research Consortium. A Fulbright Scholar, she earned her B.A. in political science from Yale University and her M.P.A. in economic policy and her Ph.D. with a focus on economics and development from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Jim O’Connor

Managing Director
MVC Capital, Inc.

Jim joined MVC capital as managing director in 2008 after nine years with Motorola, Inc. He was also a White House Fellow for the U.S. Treasury Department, worked for the Committee on Ways and Means at the U.S. House of Representatives, and a volunteer teacher in South Africa. He was named one of American Ventures Magazine’s “40 under 40” in 2006. He earned his B.A. in government and English from Georgetown University, his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, and his Master of Management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.


Richard Rodriguez

Senior Vice President
Res Publica Group

Richard joined the Res Publica Group in November 2011, after serving as Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environment and Deputy Chief Operation Officer for the City of Chicago. He previously served as president of the Chicago Transit Authority and as Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Aviation. He was accepted as an American Marshall Memorial Fellow for 2009, was a Leadership Greater Chicago member in 2008, and was recognized by Crain’s “40 under 40” in 2008. He sits on the advisory board of DeVry University, and on the boards of Casa Central and Daughters of Charity Ministries of Chicago. He earned his B.A. in sociology and communications from Loyola University Chicago and his J.D. from the Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Anthony E. Simpkins

Deputy Commissioner, Asset Management and Housing Preservation
City of Chicago Department of Community Development

Prior to joining the Department of Community Development in 2007, Anthony was a senior counsel for buildings and land use litigation at the City of Chicago Law Department for ten years. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, a board member of the Muslim Bar Association of Chicago, and author of a number of articles on housing-related issues. He earned his B.A. in political science from the University of Illinois, and both his M.A. in political science and his J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Melissa Megliola Zaikos

Chief of Elementary Schools, Pershing Network
Chicago Public Schools

Melissa oversees the performance and management of over 100 Autonomous Schools within the Chicago Public Schools. Previously, she was a broad resident, funded by the Broad Foundation, leading strategic projects at CPS, and a manager for Deloitte Consulting. She is a national advisor to current Broad Residents and sits on the executive committee of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. She earned her B.S. in industrial engineering from Texas A&M University and her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.