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A Hopeful Future

Wed, May 11, 2011

Jim LoBianco

Every day staff at social service agencies across Chicago look at their respective budgets with alarm. They see the how the economy has slowed individual giving. Then they consider the impact of further cuts in government funding, which are certain to happen. Once they put the financials away they return to serve the ever-increasing number of people in need.

In the midst of this economic uncertainty Chicago has experienced a change in leadership. For the first time in 22 years the city will have a new mayor, Rahm Emanuel. The day after his election victory it was understood that with the new mayor would come new leaders in most City departments. The question on many minds was: would our new mayor
pick leaders fit to meet these challenging times?

On Thursday, April 28, the Mayor-Elect appointed Evelyn Diaz as commissioner for the Chicago Department
of Family & Support Services. He also named John Pfeiffer to the department’s number two position (and you can read about their qualifications and careers in detail further on in this week’s edition). I want to take this opportunity to add my voice to the chorus of praise being heaped on Rahm Emanuel in response to these appointments.

Evelyn and John are true leaders when it comes to service to the poor and those in need. Any concerns I had about the future of the City’s social services were laid to rest with this announcement.

Rahm Emanuel has been on a roll with his cabinet appointments. From the new schools chief to the head of the City’s
Human Resource department and his choice of police superintendent, his appointments bring with them proven success
in their areas of expertise as well as the promise of reform. In addition, Mr. Emanuel is also showing himself to be astute in the choices of the people he is retaining.

For example, the Mayor-Elect is keeping Karen Tamely as the commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities. Karen has been a dedicated public servant and Chicago is better off for her leadership under the Daley administration. It is nice to see that Mr. Emanuel is as capable of spotting talent within the current administration as he is in attracting it from outside government.

The next few years will neither be easy for Chicago’s poor nor for the agencies that serve them. Luckily, all Chicagoans can take encouragement from the fact that leadership at the City level could not have been better chosen.

Jim LoBianco
StreetWise Executive Director

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