It’s hard to capture the Windy City’s big spirit in just a few words. With an impressive skyline and shoreline and a civic history to match, the city is also home to the country’s third largest school system. In Chicago, public schools are a top priority.

With close to a half million students, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) runs nearly 700 schools and employs over 40,000 workers – the second largest employer in the state of Illinois. However, the school system faces big challenges, including high rates of poverty among the student population and lower per-pupil funding than in other areas of the state.

Still, Chicago is focused on changing this equation through governance and talent reforms. For nearly two decades, the city’s schools have been operating under the control of the city’s mayor, with marked results. There is also deep private and philanthropic support for education here, with especially strong innovation in early learning and after-school programs. With a robust charter school sector and an increasing number of edtech startups and investors, Chicago is a strong place to build an educational career.


Education Pioneers has been working in Chicago since 2009 to supply local organizations with the talented people they need to achieve their goals.

  • Over 40 Partner organizations, including public sector agencies Illinois Office of the Governor and the Chicago Mayor’s Office, charter school management organizations Academy for Urban School Leadership and UNO Charter School Network, and advocacy organizations Illinois Network of Charter Schools and the Ounce of Prevention Fund.
  • EP Fellows in the Chicago area have worked on strategic projects that make a difference, including a policy proposal for alternative internship programming pathways adopted for students in Chicago Public Schools with Genesys Works, and development of a data warehouse and dashboards focused on academic return on investment for Chicago International Charter Schools.
  • Several of EP’s Chicago-based alumni have remained to contribute to this city/region on an ongoing basis, including: 2008 Fellow Nancy Lee Chavez, Associate Vice Chancellor of Decisions Support at the City Colleges of Chicago; 2009 Fellow Will Hobart, Chief Program Officer at Youth Guidance; and 2011 Fellow Simone Santiago, Director of Service and Strategic Planning at Noble Network of Charter Schools.

“CPS High Schools’ limited ability to offer internship programs was a barrier Genesys Works had struggled with for years. Our Education Pioneer approached the problem with the right blend of policy expertise and coalition building to make a huge impact. He brought the right decision makers to the table and, ultimately, facilitated a programmatic change that will open internship access to any high school senior in Chicago. This is a game-changer for our organization and it would not have been possible without our Pioneer’s dedication and skill.” - Genesys Works

Chicago Regional Board

Brad Wynn, Legal and General Investment Management of America
Debbie Bridges, D.K. Bridges LLC
Elaine Loo, Deloitte Consulting
Gaurav Doshi, Motorola Solutions
John Sassaris, Fifth Third Bank
Jon Furr, Northern Illinois University
Katherine Finnegan, Finnegan Family Foundation
Lauren Schwartze, Bellwether Education Partners
Sara Guderyahn, Chicago Blackhawks Foundation
Sasha Duchnowski, Bain and Company

Local Contact


Academy for Urban School Leadership
Acceleration Academy
Afton Partners LLC
Bellwether Education Partners
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Chicago Collegiate
Chicago International Charter Schools
Chicago Youth Centers
Citizen Schools


The Crown Family
Finnegan Family Foundation
Paul and Mary Finnegan
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Credit Suisse Americas Foundation
David Weinberg