Shari Runner ’79 was named president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League. Crain’s Chicago Business notes that she is redirecting the purpose of league.
“Right now, all the things we support are in turmoil,” Runner told reporter Shia Kapos. “We have an opportunity to change that.”
Runner had been interim leader of the Urban League for eight months and had served as senior vice president for strategy and community development a the Urban League since 2010. Previously a banker—vice president of ABN/AMRO Bank and vice president at First National Bank of Chicago—she attributes her move into the nonprofit world to her parents’ influence: her mother was a social worker and her father was a pediatrician.
“It was in my DNA to be of service to the community,” she told Kapos.
While the Urban League has always championed economic empowerment and civil rights, it had been most recently focused on strengthening the business community after the financial crisis. However, with current concerns about gun violence and police/community relationships, Runner plans to focus on education and social justice, as well as economic empowerment. “We’re at a unique point in time. We need to make sure the Urban League is strengthening African-American communities,” Runner explained to Kapos.
Runner also met with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and officials with the U.S. Justice Department. Emanuel “inherited this dysfunctional” system, Runner said, adding, “We need systemic change. We need to make sure we’re changing something in people’s minds that allowed this to exist for 60 years without it being a priority.”
Runner comes to the position after serving since 2010 as senior vice president for strategy and community development at the Urban League. Prior to that, the Chicago native was a vice president of ABN/AMRO Bank and vice president at First National Bank of Chicago.
She grew up in Hyde Park and attended the University of Chicago’s Lab Schools. At Wesleyan, she majored in psychology. She holds an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.