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The Chicago Council on Global Affairs announced its 2021 class of the Emerging Leaders program today. Selected from a pool of highly competitive applicants, the class includes 22 of Chicago’s best and brightest from some of its most prominent organizations including AbbVie, BMO Financial Group, the city of Chicago’s Office of the City Clerk , KPMG, Sidley Austin, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, UNICEF USA, and the University of Chicago, among many others.

Over the next year, they will engage in a rigorous program to further their knowledge of US foreign policy and strengthen leadership skills. Participants will deepen their understanding of global affairs and policy through a year of skills trainings, site visits, and discussions with a wide array of policymakers and influencers.

“As the world grapples with a global pandemic, an economic crisis, and systemic injustice and inequality, strong global leaders are essential,” said Council President Ivo Daalder. “The Council is dedicated to positioning and preparing the next generation to lead our city, the nation, and the world in solving today’s challenges and shaping our shared global future.”

This is the 12th year of the Emerging Leaders program. The 2021 class will participate in briefings with Council experts to explore global security, global cities, economic inequality, food insecurity and other topical global issues defining US engagement abroad. They will meet with policymakers in Washington, DC, attend Council events, and train in important leadership skills.

This year's class participants are:

  • Suchi Bansal, Ci3, University of Chicago
  • Barbara R. Barreno-Paschall, State of Illinois Human Rights Commission
  • Brandon Bodor, Parker Hannifin Corporation
  • Claudia Carravetta, AbbVie
  • Ainsley Cathcart, Citigroup
  • Manuel Chavez, William Blair
  • Lauren Densham, KPMG
  • Kay Fillingham, BMO Financial Group
  • Joi Freeman, Remnant Strategy
  • Sonia Gabrielson, BMO Financial Group
  • S. Mayumi “Umi” Grigsby, Office of the City Clerk, City of Chicago
  • Rachel Hermes, Rotary International
  • Jon Horek, Sargent & Lundy
  • Elizabeth McCostlin, UNICEF USA
  • Paul Mower, United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois
  • Allison Myers, Accenture
  • Christopher Myers, EY-Parthenon
  • Nelson M. Rosario, Smolinski Rosario Law, P..C..
  • Jason Rosensweig, American Jewish Committee
  • Kendra Stead, Sidley Austin LLP
  • Meredith Stricker, Crime and Education Labs, University of Chicago
  • Kim H. Tran, Chicago State University

The class of 2021 marks the first awarding of the David and Marilyn Vitale Scholarship. Each year, this distinguished honor will be reserved for a selected Emerging Leader who exhibits outstanding qualifications for the program. Thanks to the Vitales’ generous financial contribution, Nelson M. Rosario will receive support for the cost of participating in the program and will have the opportunity to engage with the Vitales during the program year.

Emerging Leader program alumni include Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Sean Casten (D-IL), US Circuit Judge Michael Scudder, architect and 2019 TIME 100 honoree Jeanne Gang, President of Heartland Alliance Evelyn Diaz, current nominee for Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice Morse Tan, Cook County Board Commissioner Bridget Gainer, Founding Executive Director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Education Lab Roseanna Ander, and the Deputy Treasurer of Illinois Rodrigo Garcia.

The Emerging Leaders program was established in 2008 and has graduated 221 participants to date. The application for the class of 2022 opens on November 2. More information about the Emerging Leaders program is available at

A member of the Emerging Leaders Program asks a question during an event
Emerging Leaders Program Each year, we select 20 high performing, mid-career professionals from across Chicago's business, civic, and academic sectors to participate in this leadership development program and deepen their skills and experience analyzing global issues and policies.