Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot Joins Chicago Ideas as Co-Chair for 2019-2020

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced her role as a Chicago Ideas co-chair for the 2019-2020 programming season today. Chicago Ideas is a nonprofit platform that exists to connect and inspire others to create a more joyous, thriving city. The platform produces high quality, yet affordable experiences and content that seek to facilitate meaningful connections that have the capacity to instigate real change in the world.

The ninth annual, week-long festival will cover a broad range of topics including the state of U.S. politics and discourse as we look towards the 2020 election and the economic and business opportunity of the cannabis industry. Sessions will also explore the evolving entrepreneurial landscape from a leadership and ethics perspective and the role of social media, algorithms and digital transformation on everyday life.

“This year, our program is designed to not only challenge and provoke attendees to think differently, but also seeks to provide unique learning opportunities that will prepare attendees to act on their big ideas,” said Chicago Ideas CEO Jessica Malkin. “What you will find on the 2019 schedule are thought-provoking programs that Chicago Ideas is known for alongside an Entrepreneurship 101 series, Life Hacks and special engagements including the panel of Spelman professors, featuring film writer and producer Julie Dash, that will bring you behind the scenes of some of the greatest lessons from masters of their craft.”

Chicago Ideas Week 2019 will kick off Saturday, October 12 and run through Thursday, October 17, 2019Mayor Lightfoot will appear during the festival alongside other notable figures including filmmaker David Lynch; civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson; author, advocate and former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton in conversation with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; rock icon Liz Phair; Zynga founder and executive chairman Mark Pincus; creator and star of HBO’s Crashing Pete Holmes; and more.

“For nearly a decade, Chicago Ideas has made a positive impact on our neighborhoods and communities through inspiring programming with outstanding speakers, diverse conversations and other enriching experiences,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Their commitment to community and accessibility has been an especially animating force, and I look forward to helping advance the organization’s mission of connecting entrepreneurs, civic and social impact leaders as we work to improve the lives of our city’s residents and shape the future of our region.”

Chicago Ideas has introduced a more specific commitment to inclusivity this year with its enhanced community engagement efforts. To date, the organization has partnered with over 140 nonprofit community groups across Chicagoland. “We believe that Chicago Ideas can serve as a conduit to connect people, organizations, resources, and ideas across our city,” said Chicago Ideas Director of Community Engagement Lindsay Knight, Ph.D. “Our version of engagement relies on cultivating relationships across those often disconnected communities.”

Chicago Ideas has cultivated a platform for ideas where curiosity—not income or zip code—is the common denominator among its community members. As the organization approaches a decade in existence, Chicago Ideas has committed to building an audience base that represents the rich diversity of Chicago and is welcoming to under-resourced communities across the city.

Additional featured programs include:

  • Idea: What will the world look like in 2050?” on Monday, October 14 featuring Founder of Ocean Collective & Urban Ocean Lab Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., and bioethicist Francoise Baylis;
  • An Evening with Jessica Lange” on Monday, October 14 featuring the award-winning actress;
  • Idea: Should policy have a conscience?” on Monday, October 14 featuring Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton, best-selling author of Hillbilly Elegy JD Vance, Former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, and CNN White House Correspondent Abby Phillip;
  • Idea: It’s time to kick your addiction to algorithms” on Tuesday, October 15 which will explore our psychological relationship with algorithms featuring former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo;
  • Idea: Do journalists inform in the age of misinformation?” on Tuesday, October 15 which will explore the transformation of White House media coverage with CNN’s former Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, Former Clinton White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart, and CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett;
  • Idea: Leaders aren’t born–they’re made” on Wednesday, October 16 featuring Zynga founder Mark Pincus, United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer, and President and COO at Focus Brands Ethics Kat Cole whose discussion of her rise to executive will inspire;
  • Idea: Who draws the line between right and wrong?” on Wednesday, October 16 which will explore ethics, misdeeds, and intellectual freedom with Harvard Professor and former Harvey Weinstein defense attorney Ron Sullivan, Jr., and Georgetown professor and securities expert Hillary Sale;
  • Idea: Resilience is the secret to success on Thursday, October 17 featuring member of Exonerated 5 (formerly Central Park 5) Yusef Salaam, and writer Jason Rosenthal; and
  • Idea: Influence is our strongest currency” on Thursday, October 17 featuring civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson, YouTube Personality Lisa “Lisbug” Schwartz, and author & creator of “My Drunk Kitchen” Hannah Hart.

General admission tickets for Chicago Ideas Week are available now, and most are just $15. For the full schedule and speaker lineup visit


Chicago Ideas is a nonprofit platform built on one core belief: When audiences of every background have access to thought leaders and innovative ideas, people have the power to spark change in the world. Chicago Ideas is hosting Chicago Ideas Week, October 12-17, which is the largest affordable ideas festival in the world, connecting attendees to more than 150 world-renowned speakers—but Chicago Ideas’ efforts extend much further. Whether it’s the year-round programming, over 100 Labs that offer exclusive looks into Chicago-based businesses and cultural institutions, a Youth Program that promotes leadership and personal development among under-represented Chicago high school students or a digital content platform that highlights innovative people and organizations, Chicago Ideas is helping make visionary ideas accessible to everyone. Chicago Ideas is a 501(c)(3) organization. Learn more about becoming a member at