The Closing Keynote Address is the capstone event of new student orientation experience for the Harris School.

The address brings conversations on timely policy issues and challenges through a dynamic lecture exclusively for the Harris community. The address challenges students to contemplate their role in complex global and social issues and craft a vision for the future of policy leadership and social change.

Hear more about Harris’ commitment to providing students with the resources and experience to drive effective social change and policy leadership, and examine personal and professional examples of commitment to rigor, fearlessness, and impact.


Xavier Ramey
Xavier Ramey

2023 Keynote Speaker: Xavier Ramey

Xavier Ramey is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Justice Informed, a globally-reaching, Chicago-based organizational design and social impact consulting firm that works with various institutions to evolve their cultural, operational, service and community strategies. From small startups to Fortune 500s, small nonprofits serving refugees to associations representing dozens of CDFIs across America, and spanning the gambit of corporate and nonprofit institutions, Xavier and his firm have built the organizational designs; led
equity-focused trainings; provided executive team advisory services; and mediated challenging legal, reputational, or financial hazards for clients seeking to be socially impactful institutions that integrate powerful inclusive workplaces with industry-leading services and products. Known for bringing his “invitation-based approach” to urgent social change issues, his clients have included Ingredion, Emerson, Taproot Foundation, Northwestern University, Chicago Foundation for Women, the Museum of Contemporary Art, BBIF Florida, and more.

Aside from his work as an executive and lead consultant, Xavier is a global keynote speaker, an activist on matters of racial justice and policing, and a highly sought-after lecturer at top-ranked MBA and social impact university programs across the United States. A native of the west side of Chicago, he is a recognizable voice on the topics of community and economic development, policing and policy violence, and connecting the everyday person to transformative social change.

Xavier served the University of Chicago as the inaugural Senior Assistant Director for Social Innovation and Philanthropy, as the leader of the multimillion-dollar workforce development community and philanthropic strategy for the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, as a Development Director at the Young Men’s Educational Network, and as a consultant for organizations across Africa. He is a founding member of The #LetUsBreathe Collective, a member of the Rotary Club for Social Equity and Impact, and a Board member of Young Chicago Authors and Chicago Center for Arts and Technology.


Previous Speakers

Past Closing Keynote Address speakers include:

  • Brea Baker | A skilled communications strategist, influencer engagement professional, and activist/organizer | 2022

  • Jamira Burley | Head of Youth Engagement and Skills for the Global Business Coalition for Education | 2020

  • Samuel Sinyangwe | An activist and data scientist focused on ending racism and police violence in America | 2019

  • Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi  | 8th District of Illinois | 2018

  • Valerie Jarrett | Former Senior Advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama | 2017

  • David Axelrod | Harris Distinguished Senior Fellow, Director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics & Former Senior Strategist to U.S. President Barack Obama | 2016

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Special Advisor to the Dean

Michael A. Nutter

After serving almost 15 years in the Philadelphia City Council, Michael A. Nutter was elected the 98th Mayor of his hometown in November 2007. Since leaving public service on January 4, 2016, Mayor Nutter has remained active in public policy, government, and civic life.