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UIC Urban Forum



Beth Swanson

Vice President of Strategy and Programs, The Joyce Foundation

Beth Swanson is Vice President of Strategy and Programs for the Joyce Foundation, where she helps guide charitable distributions of $48 million annually from assets of $950 million. Beth works closely with program officers in the development of strategic approaches to reach public policy goals across six focus areas: education, employment, environment, democracy, gun violence prevention and culture. Her experience at the intersection of policy and practice, and her shared love of our community, are evident in her work with program staff and grantees alike.

Before joining Joyce in 2014, Swanson served as Deputy for Education in the Mayor’s Office, working closely with Mayor Emanuel and other leaders to define the city’s education policy agenda from birth through college. She served as point person in expanding early learning opportunities, achieving a full school day, bringing quality school options to families, and launching the city’s Summer of Learning. Swanson also worked closely with the business community to ensure the City Colleges of Chicago helped students learn skills relevant to the job market.

Previously, Swanson was executive director of the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, which invests in people and programs that enrich the life experiences of Chicago’s children. Before that, she led the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Management and Budget under CEO Arne Duncan, and was responsible for the district’s $5.2 billion operating budget. She served as an advisor to the CEO on district priority setting and policy development. Swanson also represented CPS in local, state and federal policy discussions.  Prior to leading the Budget Office, she served as director of the CPS Office of Extended Learning Opportunities.

Beth is Board Chair for Thrive Chicago, was appointed by Governor Rauner to the Illinois P-20 Council, and serves on the board of directors for the Chicago Public Education Fund and One Million Degrees. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. Beth, her husband and their three children live in Chicago, and her children attend Chicago Public Schools.