White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett to Visit Harris

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, will visit the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy’s Women in Public Leadership (WIPL) program, Rebecca Sive, the program’s academic director, announced today.

Women in Public Leadership is an innovative five-day intensive program, offered through the Harris School of Public Policy, that brings together prominent female leaders and distinguished University of Chicago faculty to equip a select cohort of executive women for greater leadership in government, politics, philanthropy and advocacy. The program, which is the Harris School’s first executive education offering, launches on Nov. 16.

“Valerie Jarrett is one of the most effective and inspiring women leaders of our time,” said Rebecca Sive, WIPL academic director and a noted author, advocate and speaker. “We are so honored that she is visiting our students and program – this group of tremendously accomplished women who are taking substantial time out of their lives to serve as teachers and mentors to the next generation of leaders.”

WIPL’s faculty is led by Daniel Diermeier, Harris School dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor of Public Administration, and includes acclaimed UChicago scholars with expertise in public policy, business, management and behavioral psychology.

“We are launching the Harris School’s executive education initiative with this program to make a strong statement about the central role that women leaders must play in addressing the complex policy challenges of our time,” Diermeier said. “By bringing together proven leaders, like Jarrett, with scholars at the forefront of public policy and leadership, this program will help equip a new generation of leaders with the skills to both figure out what’s best for society and carry their ideas through to make an impact.”     

Throughout her tenure at the White House, Jarrett has worked with elected officials, business and community leaders, and diverse groups of advocates to promote economic development and to champion equality of opportunity for all Americans. She also has led efforts to empower women economically and politically, in the United States and around the world. 

Jarrett’s previous experience in both the public and private sectors includes service as the CEO of The Habitat Company in Chicago, Chair of the Chicago Transit Board, Commissioner of Planning and Development, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. She has served as Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees, Vice-Chair of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees, and a member of the Visiting Committee to the Harris School of Public Policy. She received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1978 and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981.

University guests and WIPL students will also hear from Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme.

The WIPL faculty includes a long list of female trailblazers who have succeeded at every level of public leadership, from the White House, to City Hall, to the executive suites of leading corporations and foundations. They include: 

  • Adele Cepeda, founder and president of A.C. Advisory, Inc., which manages capital market transactions for business and government, and a director of the Chicago Foundation for Women.
  • Lori Healey, CEO of the Chicago-based Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, which owns and manages McCormick Place, the nation’s largest convention center, and Navy Pier, Illinois’ top-visited tourist destination. 
  • Celinda Lake, founder/principal of Lake Partners and one of the nation’s foremost experts on electing women candidates and on framing issues to women voters. 
  • Connie Lindsey, executive vice president and head of corporate social responsibility and global diversity & inclusion for Northern Trust. She is the immediate past national board president of Girl Scouts of the USA.
  • Toni Preckwinkle, the first elected woman president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners and chief executive of the nation’s 19th-largest government.
  • Susan Sher, senior advisor to University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer and leader of the University’s Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum initiative. She formerly served as chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama. 
  • Julia Stasch, president of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and former deputy administrator of the federal General Services Administration.
  • Paula Wolff, Senior Executive of Metropolis Strategies, a trustee of the University of Chicago and its medical center, and former president of Governors State University.
  • Jessica Yellin, an award-winning political journalist who served as CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent.

Every day, women leaders face a complex array of challenges, barriers and opportunities. Harris WIPL will provide tested strategies and research-based guidance to enable women to overcome gender bias, build on success, recover from failure, expand their influence, advance their careers and take their place in the public square.

For more information, or to arrange media interviews, please contact Elizabeth Austin at 708-912-2247 or eaustin@uchicago.edu.