Since becoming president of the Foundation last year, I have felt the privilege and responsibility of carrying on the work Col. McCormick chartered 55 years ago when he created this charitable trust to benefit the people of Chicagoland and the nation.
While conservative in his politics, McCormick was also an innovator and inventor (he held five patents), and loved to try new things. He brought the Chicago Tribune into each “new media” of his time—first radio, then television. So he knew better than many in his era that times change.
This past year we took a page from the book of McCormick the innovator, and engaged in an extensive review of our strategies. It seemed a good time to do this, with a new president and two new members coming onto our Board of Directors—Ruthellyn Musil and Don Wycliff—as well as waves of change in the areas where the Foundation has focused.
On the view that effective strategic planning is about asking the right questions, we asked a lot of them: What areas do we want to focus on in the future? What geographic scope is best? What impacts do we want to have, and how will we know we are making progress?
Working with our Board, we have reaffirmed our commitment to the key areas of our work—education, journalism and the First Amendment, citizen engagement, and strengthening families and communities. All of our programs strive to improve our communities by giving people the means by which they themselves can engage with other citizens to make things better.
Across the Foundation, our planning has emphasized understanding what impact our work is having. We are committed to having measurable, systemic impact on the areas we invest in, and holding ourselves accountable for these results.
Ultimately, our impact turns on the work of the dedicated staff I am so fortunate to have as colleagues, and the extraordinary people and grantee organizations whose work in the community inspires us every day.
President and Chief Executive Officer