Institute of Politics

Lori Lightfoot

Former Mayor of Chicago

  • Winter-Spring 2024 Pritzker Fellow

  • Seminars Series: “Living To Tell the Stories: Governing Chicago in a Time of Epic Global & National Crises”


On May 20, 2019, Lori E. Lightfoot became the 56th Mayor of the City of Chicago. Mayor Lightfoot came to City Hall following a career as a manager, advocate, and reform expert, with extensive experience working at the city and federal level to make government more accountable and accessible. Before taking office, she served as a senior equity partner in the Litigation and Conflict Resolution Group at Mayer Brown LLP. While at Mayer Brown, Mayor Lightfoot took on two critical tasks for the City of Chicago, chairing the Police Accountability Task Force, and serving as president of the Chicago Police Board. Mayor Lightfoot held other key positions in City government, as the Interim First Deputy of the Chicago Department of Procurement Services and Chief of Staff and General Counsel of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications. Prior to that, Mayor Lightfoot was Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois criminal division, managing large-scale investigations involving criminal drug conspiracies, political corruption and bankruptcy fraud. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Michigan and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School.


“Living To Tell the Stories: Governing Chicago in a Time of Epic Global & National Crises”

The years between 2019 and 2021 were the toughest and most consequential Chicago has faced in modern history. This period marked a mayoral change, the potential end to machine politics and the status quo, the biggest structural city budget deficits in history, and a divisive, weeks’ long teachers’ strike - all before COVID-19 hit, upending our lives, challenging our healthcare system and devastating huge parts of our economy. The murder of George Floyd unleashed massive public outcry and protests, which were routinely hijacked by violence and criminal looting. So how did we survive?

In a series of discussions, I will help answer that question, taking you behind the curtains in the rooms where it was happening to provide unique insights on how critical events in Chicago unfolded during this defining time. We’ll engage in weekly myth-busting exercises intended to take on some of the specious, closely held beliefs circulating on social media concerning a variety of topics. I will explain how my life’s journey shaped my vision for transforming Chicago by unapologetically operationalizing equity and taking advantage of the opportunities that the pandemic presented to right historical wrongs. I will cover the big issues facing Chicago and other cities across America and the many headwinds I and other leaders faced while highlighting the beauty, creativity and innovation that makes Chicago unique among America’s big cities.

Seminars are off-the-record & open to current UChicago students only.

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