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CHICAGO – A Better Chicago—a venture philanthropy fund fighting poverty by investing in initiatives serving local youth—announced today that Elizabeth (Beth) Swanson will be the organization’s new chief executive officer. Swanson brings more than fifteen years of leadership in the philanthropic and government sectors to her role. She will succeed A Better Chicago Founder and Chief Executive Officer Liam Krehbiel, who will transition to become chair of the organization’s board of directors.
“I am deeply proud of the impact A Better Chicago has made in our city since we opened our doors in 2010,” said Krehbiel. “I have known Beth for nearly a decade, and I could not imagine anyone better suited to take the helm as we move into this new phase of growth. Beth has consistently demonstrated her ability to be a positive force for change, earning the trust and respect of a diverse range of leaders in Chicago and beyond. I am confident she will lead our team to new heights.”
Swanson has a proven commitment to improving the lives of Chicago’s youth. She joins A Better Chicago from the Joyce Foundation where, as vice president of strategy and programs, she oversaw an annual grant portfolio of $50 million, provided strategic direction to all programs and drove foundation-wide innovation initiatives. Before joining Joyce, Swanson served as deputy chief of staff for education in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration, working collaboratively with community leaders to define the city’s education policy agenda from birth through college. She served as the Mayor’s point person in expanding early learning opportunities, achieving a full school day, bringing quality school options to families and launching the city’s Summer of Learning initiative. Swanson also worked closely with Chicago’s business community to ensure that City Colleges of Chicago, a network of seven community colleges, equipped students with skills relevant to the local job market.
“I have devoted my professional life to working on behalf of children living in poverty and I am thrilled to continue that work,” said Swanson. “I am honored to join A Better Chicago and build on the impressive work that this team has already accomplished. Chicago’s young people have boundless talent, but they need more access to opportunity. A Better Chicago will work to harness philanthropy to ensure our city’s young people have everything they need to reach their full potential.”
Swanson previously served as executive director of the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, and worked for Chicago Public Schools with CEO Arne Duncan, serving as director of the Office of Extended Learning Opportunities and then leading the district’s Office of Management and Budget. Swanson is board vice chair for City Colleges of Chicago and board chair for Thrive Chicago, a collective impact initiative working to align efforts by service providers, city agencies and funders to help children succeed from cradle to career. She was appointed by Governor Rauner to the Illinois P-20 Council and serves on the board of the Chicago Public Education Fund. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and American studies from Amherst College, and a master’s in public policy from the University of Chicago. Swanson and her husband live with their three children on Chicago’s North Side.
Swanson was selected by A Better Chicago’s board of directors from a notable group of candidates. Steve Beard, chief operating officer at Adtalem Global Education and A Better Chicago board member, led the national search effort in partnership with executive firm Korn Ferry.
“On behalf of A Better Chicago’s board of directors, I am thrilled to welcome Beth to the team as she lends her extensive expertise to a role that I am certain she will excel in,” said Beard. “Liam has established an organization that has already had a significant impact on our city’s youth. I look forward to working with Beth to build on this promising foundation and bring opportunity to every neighborhood in Chicago.”
Swanson will officially join A Better Chicago on May 1 as its chief executive officer.
About A Better Chicago
A Better Chicago is a venture philanthropy fund changing how Chicago fights poverty by investing in bold ideas that create opportunity for our youth. It harnesses best practices from the public and private sectors to find, fund and scale initiatives that have the greatest potential to drive impact and improve educational outcomes for all students. Founded in 2010, A Better Chicago has raised more than $30 million, engaged nearly 1,700 donors and impacts more than 37,000 lives annually through the schools and programs it invests in. To learn more and join the movement, visit abetterchicago.org and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.