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A vibrant Chicago powered by diverse leaders from every neighborhood.

Our History

Founded in 1996 by then Chairman of Nuveen Investments, Tim Schwertfeger, and his wife Gail Waller, Chicago Scholars provided a onetime award of $1,000 to a graduating senior nominated from every public, private and parochial high school in Chicago. The intent of the program was to highlight talent regardless of the student’s high school or neighborhood. Before long, the Foundation caught the attention of Manny Sanchez and Gery Chico, whose Chicagoland Scholarship Fund helped young Hispanic students realize their dreams of college education, and in 2002 the two organizations merged to become Scholarship Chicago.


At Chicago Scholars we strive to prepare our Scholars for the world and the world for our Scholars. Preparing our Scholars for the world means supporting them through college acceptance, matriculation, persistence, and career access. Preparing the world for our Scholars allows our students to go beyond surviving to thriving, from achieving to excelling, from attending and working to belonging and exceeding. To achieve these goals, we approach everything we do with a focus on racial justice, equity, accessibility, diversity, and inclusion (READI).

Our Partners

Our vision of a vibrant city powered by diverse leaders from every neighborhood is not something we can achieve alone. It relies on strong partnerships with key organizations, businesses, and community leaders in every sector.  

We partner with community based organizations, colleges and universities around the United States, Chicago businesses, and high schools across the city.  Through these partnerships, we are able to reach more students, provide new opportunities to our Scholars, and make a greater impact on the city of Chicago.

Our Team

Inspired by the 1992 U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team, we call ourselves the Dream Team because we hire the best and most talented people. Without our team, we have no chance of achieving our mission or goals. 

Our work is challenging and rewarding. We value the voice and opinion of each and every member of our team, encouraging all staff to share their ideas and opinions regardless of where they sit in the organizational structure. We embrace our differences, and we believe that when our staff, Scholars, and stakeholders can be their true authentic selves, they can activate their superpowers.

Alumni Leadership Association Board

The Alumni Leadership Association Board (ALA Board) is a group of talented Chicago Scholars Alumni who are early-career professionals committed to developing their leadership skills and building meaningful relationships that will transform our neighborhoods and our city. ALA Board members live across the country and commit to a year-long term and a $50 fundraising give/get. Board Officers are strongly encouraged to serve two terms.

The ALA Board plays an integral role in the leadership of the Chicago Scholars Alumni Leadership Association. The ALA Board and Chicago Scholars co-lead broader Alumni initiatives and plans up to two annual professional development events.

Our Board Officers

Chair: Nathan A. Ulery, The Mx Group

Vice Chair: Mark Cassata, CBRE

Secretary: Suzanne L. Shier, Levenfeld Pearlstein LLC

Treasurer: Joseph G. Lansing, Harrison Street Real Estate Capital

Past Chair: K. Kristann Carey, Constellation Brands

Chief Executive Officer: Jeffery Beckham Jr., Chicago Scholars

Our Board Of Directors

Nataly Barrera, A Better Chicago

Oliver Bevan, McKinsey & Company

Raj Bhatia, Merrill Lynch Private Banking & Investment Group

Nyerere Billups, Abbvie

Gary Caplan, Office of the Illinois Attorney General and Chicago Scholars Founders Council

Paula Daniliuc, Oak Street Health

Wendy Kornick Friedman, Consultant

Dana Gordon

Kourtney Gibson, TIAA

Reginald J. Hill, Jenner & Block

Dan Hoffenkamp, EY

Suzy Kahn Weinberg, Big Shoulders Stories

Girish Kashyap, GCM Grosvenor

Greg Kranias, GSC Investment Partners

Maria C. Lin, Consultant

Katherine Mann, Consultant

Matthew Mann, Aon

Isaiah Moore, Lee High School (ALA Board Chair)

Nisaini Rexach, Microsoft

William Ritchie, Madison Dearborn Partners

Manny Sanchez, Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman and Chicago Scholars Founders Council

Timothy R. Schwertfeger, Nuveen Investments and Chicago Scholars Founders Council

Makiah Scott, Neal Gerber Eisenberg (Associate Board Chair)

Dannielle Scott-Duke, Hexados Consulting

Rex Sessions, Winston & Strawn LLP

Brian Sims, One World Network of Schools

Jesse Slovenec, BMO Harris 

Carl Tannenbaum, Northern Trust

Kathryn C. Thomas, Chilton Yambert Porter LLP

D.V. Williams, Match Group

Kristin Wolf, Ulta Beauty

Associate Board of Directors

The mission of the Associate Board is to use our unique position as emerging leaders to enhance organizational capacity, raise funds and awareness of Chicago Scholars across the City of Chicago, and ultimately help Chicago Scholars to build a vibrant Chicago powered by diverse leaders from every neighborhood. Systemic change in our society cannot happen until more people of color from marginalized communities are in positions of leadership – young people like our Scholars. Chicago Scholars is committed to building a future society that works for everybody.

Applications for the 2023-2024 Associate Board are now closed. We will be accepting new applications in Spring 2024. If you have any questions, please contact the Executive Committee.