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Alaina Harkness

Nonresident Fellow, Global Cities

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Council expert Alaina Harkness

About Alaina Harkness

As executive director for Current, Chicago’s water innovation hub, Alaina Harkness leads a team working to grow the blue economy, accelerate innovation, and solve pressing water challenges. She most recently served as managing director for the economic development firm RW Ventures, where she helped launch and lead the New Growth Innovation Network and developed inclusive growth strategies for cities and metropolitan regions. Previously she held a research fellowship in urban governance at the Brookings Institution, led urban development strategy for the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and staffed civic collaboratives: The Partnership for New Communities and 2016 Fund for Chicago Neighborhoods.

Harkness is a nonresident fellow in the Global Cities program at the Council and has published research and commentary for the Brookings Institution, Crain's Chicago Business, the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, and CityLab. She holds a B.A. in political science and art history from the University of Rochester, and master's degrees in Public Policy and Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago. Harkness is a longtime resident of Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood and serves on the boards of Urban Initiatives and Margaret's Village. She is a 2014 fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago.

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