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Reviving the American Metropolis: A Conversation with Paul Vallas

Thursday June 2023


Paul G. Vallas Policy Advisor, Illinois Policy Institute
Former Superintendent and Mayoral Candidate
Reihan Salam President @reihan

Chicago is one of America’s most vibrant metropolises, renowned for its rich culture, economic significance, and diverse communities. Yet it is a city grappling with profound challenges, including rising crime, an underperforming public education system, and the outmigration of tens of thousands of taxpayers. The recent mayoral race between Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson further highlighted the city's deep-rooted divisions, with Chicagoans remaining divided on effective solutions to address these critical issues.

Now, as his erstwhile opponent takes office as Chicago’s new mayor, Vallas, one of the nation’s most accomplished public servants, remains an indispensable voice on the city’s future. Over the course of a hard-fought campaign, he offered an ambitious reform agenda centered on investing in proactive policing, expanding educational options, and revitalizing a local economy still recovering from the COVID crisis—a set of ideas that resonated with a majority of Chicago voters, but was met with fierce resistance from the Chicago Teachers’ Union and other powerful local interest groups.

Please join us for a wide-ranging conversation with Paul Vallas on his recent campaign and the lessons he’s learned about what it will take to revive the fortunes of Chicago and other urban centers.

Paul G. Vallas is an internationally recognized government turnaround expert renowned for his work in public finance, education and disaster relief. Paul’s expertise in budgetary and organizational oversight can be traced to his tenure as Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Revenue Director and then Budget Director. Mr. Vallas was selected by Daley to be Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools for six years, bringing years of labor peace after the district experienced innumerable strikes and school opening delays. In recent years, Paul has consulted financially distressed and underperforming school districts, including leading the school reforms in post-Katrina New Orleans as CEO of the region’s Recovery School District. He is currently opening his twelfth public military high school, the Arkansas Military and First Responder Academy in Arkansas at the invitation of that state.

Photo: pawel.gaul/iStock