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    Meet the people behind our Community of Curiosity

    The people behind Chicago Ideas, from staff to the Brain Trust to volunteers, come from a massive range of backgrounds to contribute to our mission of accessibility and ideas for everyone.

    Chicago Ideas Co-Chairs

    The Chicago Ideas team focuses on producing world-class events, video and written content, and community outreach aimed at inspiring connection and action around big ideas.
    Brad Keywell
    Founder & Chairman, Chicago Ideas and Founder & CEO, Uptake
    Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot
    Co-Chairperson, Chicago Ideas; 56th Mayor of the City of Chicago

    Brain Trust

    What makes Chicago Ideas Week programming so compelling and so distinctly Chicago? The Chicago Ideas Brain Trust is a community of subject-matter experts selected to help shape the CIW program with their unique insights and expertise. Direction from the Brain Trust enables Chicago Ideas to gauge general interest in timely themes, dive deeply into specific topic areas, book exciting and relevant speakers, broaden the CIW audience, and create experiences that impact the entire CIW community.
    Israel Idonije
    Athlete & Entrepreneur
    Sonya Jackson
    Founder & Principal, Mantra for Good
    Susan Crown
    Chairman & Founder, Susan Crown Exchange (SCE), Chairman & CEO, Owl Creek Partners
    Kim Keywell
    Director, Keywell Foundation
    Wendy Abrams
    Founder, Cool Globes, Inc.
    Leslie Bluhm
    Co-Founder, Chicago Cares
    Lester Coney
    Executive Vice President, Office of the Chairman, Mesirow Financial
    Jenna Kostelnik Utley
    Executive Producer, The Oprah Winfrey Network
    Adam Waytz
    Professor, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
    Jacolyn Bucksbaum
    Co-Founder, The Focus Foundation
    Moran Cerf
    Professor, Neuroscience & Business, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
    Andrew Barber
    Creator & Owner, Fake Shore Drive
    Lola Wright
    Spiritual Director
    Orrin Murray
    Director of Technology and R&D, UChicago Impact
    Meredith Stricker
    Executive Director, The Soufan Center
    Paul "DJ White Shadow" Blair
    DJ, Producer & Music Director, W Hotels
    Eric Williams
    Founder & Creative Director, The Silver Room
    Holly Copeland
    Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability & Impact, Horizon Therapeutics
    David Burstein
    Founder, Run for America & Generation18
    Matthew Summy
    Regional Vice President, External Affairs, Comcast
    Bob Teitel
    Partner, State Street Pictures
    Jamil Smith
    Senior Writer, Rolling Stone
    Jay Porter
    CEO, Revere
    Mel Safford
    Founder, Body Worship Workout; Sr. Director, Programming & Experience at WW
    Xavier Ramey
    Founder & CEO, Justice Informed
    Sona Gajiwala Jones
    Strategic Advisor
    Joe Shanahan
    Founder and Owner, Metro Chicago/Smartbar/GMan Tavern