PRESS RELEASE April 30, 2015
Innovation Illinois, a New Policy Think Tank, Launches as Voice for Evidence-based, Progressive Policies
Chicago, IL— Innovation Illinois, a policy think tank, today announced its launch as a voice for working families and the middle class in the State of Illinois. Innovation Illinois is an independent, nonpartisan research-based advocacy organization dedicated to promoting progressive public policies that reflect current research and real world-tested best practices.
“It is long past time that hard working families and the middle class had an independent organization advocating for them and that is exactly what we are here to do,” said Michelle R.B. Saddler, Interim CEO. “Our goal is to create a broader dialogue grounded in solutions-based policy. We will take a data-informed approach to crafting and advocating for policies that work in our state.”
From the outset, Innovation Illinois will gather research on policies that support working and middle class people and seek to advance evidence-tested policies. The group will also study best practices from other states that have seen results and benefits for their residents.
“We believe that working families are the engine of our economy, and they should have every possible opportunity to advance and succeed,” said Innovation Illinois Board Chairman Christopher G. Kennedy. “Innovation Illinois is more than a think tank – we are an organization that will inform policy creation and development, but will also actively engage with the entire field driving our leadership’s decisions in Springfield.”
“The greatness of our state and our nation has always depended on people working together in our federal, state, and local governments”, said Nobel Prize-winning economist and Innovation Illinois Board Member Roger Myerson. “From the first settlements here, government services and public investments have been essential to provide the basic framework for building the richest country on earth. What our state needs is clear thoughtful analysis to find an appropriate mix of essential public services, efficiently provided, with a fair sustainable plan of taxation to pay for them. This is the discussion that we promise to engage at Innovation Illinois.”
Innovation Illinois has identified seven areas of focus for its work:
• Entrepreneurship and Innovation
• Environment and Sustainability
• Healthcare and Human Services
• Justice and Human Rights
• Labor and Employment
In the coming weeks and months, Innovation Illinois will be issuing a comprehensive report and recommendations from its recent policy summit and will be speaking out on the impact of the state’s introduced budget.
In addition to Board Chair Chris Kennedy, Innovation Illinois board members include:
John Atkinson, Willis Group; Barb Brown, former SIU professor; John Kamis, Carpenter Lipps & Leland LLP; Chris Kennedy, North Bank and Wells (Board Chair); Roger Myerson, University of Chicago / Nobel Prize winning economist; Sunil Puri, First Rockford Group; Jorge Ramirez, Chicago Federation of Labor; Eileen Rhodes, East Lake Management; Jay Rowell, Treasurer’s Office; Jesse Ruiz, Drinker, Biddle & Reath; Leo Smith, Steans Family Foundation; Todd Smith, Powers Rogers & Smith; K Sujata, Chicago Foundation for Women; and Jim Sweeney, Operating Engineers Local 150.