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Board of Directors Issues Statement on Leadership Changes at the Chicago Urban League

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Calmetta Coleman
Senior Vice President of External Affairs
(773) 451-3536

Board of Directors Issues Statement on Leadership Changes at the Chicago Urban League

Earlier this week, Shari Runner and members of the Chicago Urban League Board of Directors discussed her departure as President and CEO of the organization. This morning, Chairman of the Board Eric Smith sent the following message to Chicago Urban League employees regarding restructuring of the leadership of the League:

Dear Chicago Urban League Staff,

On behalf of the Chicago Urban League Board of Directors, I am writing to inform you of recent decisions to restructure the leadership of the organization. Earlier this week, Shari Runner and members of the Board discussed her departure from the League. She will step down as President and CEO at the end of this month. Additionally, the position of Chief of Staff has been eliminated, and Danielle Parker is no longer with the League.

Shari and Danielle have each made significant contributions toward advancing our mission during their time with the League, and the Board is grateful for their service.

Shari led the organization as we celebrated our centennial year, overseeing important efforts to recognize the milestone and to position the League for the future. Under her leadership, the organization relaunched the Research and Policy Center and issued notable reports, including research on racial segregation in housing and the impact of opioid addiction among Black Chicagoans. Over the past year, she has championed a number of successful efforts to connect individuals with new opportunities, including a partnership with the Lyric Opera that enabled 30 Chicago teenagers in the EmpowerYouth! program to perform an original production on the Lyric stage, and the League’s annual Citywide Job Fair this week, which attracted roughly 6,800 job seekers with nearly 100 employers. She also initiated a new approach to the League’s upcoming annual SUMMIT, which will feature a talk by Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Importantly, Shari’s fiscal management has put the League in a strong financial position to continue its work. We thank Shari for her leadership and wish her well in her future pursuits.

Prior to becoming chief of staff last year, Danielle served as Director of the Center for Student Development, where she introduced and implemented new initiatives that include a STEM summer camp and an international ambassador program that has sent a group of Chicago youth to China for the past six years. This year’s trip, which will proceed as planned on June 29, will include 16 local high school students. Danielle also led the EmpowerYouth! program. We thank her for her contributions.

Following Shari’s departure, the Board plans to appoint business affairs strategist Barbara Lumpkin to serve as Interim CEO as we undertake a search to fill the role. Prior to forming her firm, Lumpkin Strategies, LLC, Barbara most recently served as the Deputy CEO and Executive Director for External Partnerships at Chicago Public Schools. She has also had an extensive career that includes leadership roles in city government and financial services, including serving as Comptroller, Budget Director, Special Assistant to the Mayor, City Treasurer and Chief Procurement Officer for the City of Chicago. She served in senior roles at the Northern Trust Company and Amalgamated Bank of Chicago.

Additionally, Andrea Zopp, who served as President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League from 2010 to 2016, has agreed to join the Board of Directors. We are confident that these steps will help ensure a smooth transition as we seek a permanent CEO.

I want to assure each of you that the Board remains committed to the mission and long-term success of the Chicago Urban League, and we are excited about the future.


Eric Smith
Chairman, Board of Directors


About the Chicago Urban League

Established in 1916, the Chicago Urban League works for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans and promotes strong sustainable communities through advocacy, collaboration and innovation. For more information, visit Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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