In December 2011, I arrived as the second employee of the Smart Chicago Collaborative bringing over 20 years of human service experience with me through the door. I was challenged and excited about being part of a new organization whose vast and innovative mission was to improve the lives of Chicago residents using technology. It has been 6 months since I transitioned into my role, as Interim Executive Director, and we’ve been busy. I’m very proud to lead and work with this super smart and competent team of all women, comprised of Sonja Marziano, Denise Linn, Leslie Durr, and Phaedra Studt. Time certainly flies and the work continues.
Smart Chicago Collaborative was created over 5 years ago by the City of Chicago, the Chicago Community Trust, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in response to the report The City that NetWorks. With this institutional positioning, Smart Chicago Collaborative has successfully served as a launch pad for innovation with great potential to influence the civic technology ecosystem in Chicago to increase access, skills, and data use. Our recent organizational evaluation identified two key recommendations: first, that, we refine our strategic role in relation to our fast-paced, ever-evolving technology ecosystem; and second, consistent with our role as a launch pad, that we identify and transition several of our promising innovations and projects into sustainable community-based opportunities to further fortify our ecosystem. The Smart Chicago Collaborative, utilizing our existing leadership and talent supported by our Advisory and Operations committees, will continue to digest the findings of our evaluation and align with Chicago’s existing economic development and smart city plans. Check back on our Smart Chicago Evaluation page as we share our progress and emerging ideas during this process.