Crain's Academy graduate named acting President and CEO of Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
On June 29, Crain's reported that Theresa Mintle resigned as president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce where she led the staff since 2013. The board's executive committee asked Michael Reever, Vice President for government relations, to oversee operations until a new CEO is named.
Prior to joining the Chicagoland Chamber, Reever was a former assistant legal counsel to Illinois Senate President John Cullerton. In Spring 2016, Reever participated in Crain's Leadership Academy. Amy Shivvers, managing director of events and executive education at Crain's sat down with Reever for an interview.
CA: How has your day-to-day changed (or stayed the same) in light of the interim leadership transition at the Chicagoland Chamber?
MR: It has changed and grown considerably, as I'm no longer simply advancing the advocacy and policy positions of our members and the broader business community. Now I oversee the day to day activities of the Chamber in service to our members so they can grow their business and opportunities in today's economic climate is exciting. To work with a diverse group of business and civic leaders to grow our city's economy is definitely new. It is humbling to lead such a historic business and civic organization, as Acting President & CEO.
CA: Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
MR: There are many, but to name a few. My mother because she taught me the basics of treating people with respect, my work ethic, and empathy for others. Fr. Maurizio, the founder of the Peace Corner Youth Center in Chicago's Austin community. He allowed me the opportunity to follow through on my commitment to provide opportunities for advancement to those who don't often even have metaphorical "bootstraps" to pull themselves up by to climb up the economic ladder. Giving back and public service is very important to me. Finally, my former boss, state Rep. Ann Williams, who taught me the basics of Illinois politics, and the importance of compromise and working with the opposite side in a democratic republic. She empowered and developed me to get me where I am today.
CA: What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
MR: How to continually empower our employees to do their job effectively and creatively for the benefit of our members, ensure they have the opportunity to grow, and know that they are a valued employee whose work means something to the organization. It all starts with your employees, and ensuring they feel genuinely invested in and a part of where we are going as an organization.
CA: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
MR: Respect for others. In today's anonymous, social media age and hyper-partisan political environment, leaders must have respect for others in order to solve problems. It does not always mean you or they will agree, but at least you can make a decision or have an interaction with respect for the person and their thoughts.
CA: What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
MR: The unwillingness or inability to "slow" things down. We are in such a rush everyday that we often don't remind ourselves to slow down so we can truly assess the bigger picture and details, in order to make the best decision for your organization and/or mission. To take a breath and reflect.
CA: What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
MR: I'm continually talking to my peers to get ideas, best practices, and evaluate our operations. I question a lot of things, and don't continue doing something just because "we've always done it that way". I talk to our junior staff to get thoughts and ideas on how to serve our members and grow the Chicagoland Chamber, since they are "on the ground" they have a unique perspective to offer. Attempting to get back on a regular exercise routine and eat better- that is often overlooked by a lot of leaders, including myself. And of course, staying in touch with my Crain's Leadership Academy alumni.
CA: How has what you have learned in Crain's Leadership Academy prepared you for your current role?
MR: Crain's Leadership Academy helped me better understand, refine, and develop my leadership style. It did not try to fit me into a specific mold/view of what a leader should be, but rather allowed me to build on the leadership style I already possessed. That was valuable, and unique to other types of leadership programs.
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Corrie S. Moreau is an evolutionary biologist and entomologist with a specialty in myrmecology, the study of ants.