The African-American Leadership and Policy Institute (AALPI) represents the merging of three streams of thinking bringing Chicago elected officials, philanthropic leaders, and non-profit executives and leaders together. In June 2012, former Cook County Board of Commissioners President Bobbie Steele and Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown convened a meeting of the State of Black Chicago Congress to develop a strategy to mobilize Chicago’s African American community to solve some of its most pressing problems. Solution papers were developed to address the great challenges in each area. (The solution papers can be found at the State of Black Chicago Congress website: http://www.stateofblackchicago.org.)
The mobilization strategy of the politics focus group called for the creation of a black public policy institute (“think tank”).
That same year, Terry Mazany, President and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, and Bill Lowry, Special Assistant to the Trust President, partnered with Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy (CAAIP) to develop a model for an organization to strengthen the ecosystem of black leadership in Chicago and the region.
That was followed a year later by discussions led by Robert Wordlaw, Chicago Jobs Council Executive Director, Sequane Lawrence, Director of Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities and members of the State of Black Chicago Congress. The focus was concerned with the eventual corporate and organizational structure and sustainability. Subsequently, other scholars and community leaders responded to the call to action—many of which became AALPI board members.
Several more meetings produced an action plan that culminated in a call to convene the three groups. Out of these deliberations and subsequent meetings of the three initiatives, AALPI was born.