Cook County's Promise - City Club of Chicago

Cook County's Promise

The potential of guaranteed income programs to strengthen communities
Panelists: President Toni Preckwinkle, Michael Tubbs, Dr. Shantá Robinson, Moderator: Adrian Talbott

Wednesday, Nov 16, 2022

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President Toni Preckwinkle

Toni Preckwinkle is the 35th president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, an office she has held since 2010. She is the first Black woman to be elected to the office. A dedicated and effective public servant, President Preckwinkle has worked to transform County government through increased fiscal responsibility, transparency, and improved services.

Leveraging more than 30 years of political experience and leadership, President Preckwinkle has restored credibility to County government, solving for more than $2.87 billion in budget deficits and providing supplemental pension payments of almost $2 billion above the required contribution since 2016, significantly reducing unfunded pension liabilities. 

As the top executive in Cook County, the nation’s second most populous County, President Preckwinkle oversees one of the nation’s largest public health and hospitals systems and one of the nation’s largest criminal justice systems. 

During President Preckwinkle’s administration, she has worked to expand the scope of the Justice Advisory Council (JAC) to coordinate and implement juvenile justice reform and public safety policy. In coordination with the JAC, President Preckwinkle has worked collaboratively with the County’s public safety stakeholders towards the goals of safely reducing the population of the Cook County Jail and Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center while preserving public safety, reducing recidivism, and promoting fair and equitable access to justice.

Promoting equity, specifically racial equity, has been a central principle of President Preckwinkle’s leadership. In November 2018, the Office of the President released the Cook County Policy Roadmap: Five-Year Strategic Plan for Offices Under the President to guide her administration’s policy and equity work.

Before she was elected Cook County Board President, President Preckwinkle served 19 years as Alderman of the 4th Ward. As Alderman, she oversaw the redevelopment of the Kenwood, Oakland, Douglas, Grand Boulevard and Hyde Park neighborhoods. She established a reputation as a progressive on the City Council and a champion for affordable housing. She was a co-sponsor of the living wage ordinances that passed the City Council in 1998 and 2002.

Prior to holding elected office, President Preckwinkle was a high school history teacher for ten years, before serving as an economic development coordinator for the City of Chicago and the executive director of the Chicago Jobs Council. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, President Preckwinkle came to Chicago to attend the University of Chicago, from where she holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She is the proud mother of two and grandmother of three.

Michael Tubbs

At the age of 26, Michael D. Tubbs became the youngest Mayor of any major city in American history. As Mayor, Tubbs was lauded for his leadership and innovation. Under his stewardship, Stockton was named an “All-America City” in 2017 and 2018, saw a 40% drop in homicides in 2018 and 2019, led the state of California in the decline of officer involved shootings in 2019, was named the second most fiscally healthy city in California and one of the top most fiscally healthy cities in the nation and was featured in an HBO documentary film, Stockton on My Mind.

Tubbs raised over $20 million dollars to create the Stockton Scholars, a universal scholarship and mentorship program for Stockton students. He is the Founder and Chair of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income.

Tubbs has been named a fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics and The MIT Media Lab, a member of Fortune’s Top 40 under 40, a Forbes 30 under 30 All-star Alumni, the “Most Valuable Mayor” by The Nation, the 2021 Civic Leadership Award winner from The King Center, and 2019 New Frontier Award Winner from the JFK Library. Before taking the helm as Mayor, Tubbs served as a Councilmember for the City of Stockton District 6, was a high school educator, and a fellow for the Stanford Design School and the Emerson Collective.

The author of the memoir The Deeper the Roots, Tubbs currently serves as the Special Advisor to California Governor Gavin Newsom for Economic Mobility and is the founder of End Poverty in California (EPIC).

Dr. Shantá R. Robinson

Shantá R. Robinson’s research interests include the role of social identity in marginalized students’ educational experiences, aspirations, and outcomes; empirical investigations of marginalized student achievement and underachievement; inequities in the distribution of educational resources; and the history, culture, and social organization of K-12 educational institutions. Her most recent work focuses on the educational experiences and occupational aspirations of adolescents experiencing homelessness.

While Robinson’s research is framed for scholarly outlets, its purpose is to assist school members—teachers, administrators, and community leaders—in living up to the grand potential of public education: to identify, support, and make possible the capabilities and promise of every student, irrespective of the student’s familial background, neighborhood, or other social location. Her scholarly work can be read in International Studies in Sociology of Education, The High School Journal, and Review of Research in Education. Her musings regarding her scholarly work can be found at

Robinson holds a BA in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and an MA in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She earned her PhD in educational studies at the University of Michigan, where she specialized in the sociology of education, qualitative methodologies, and issues of race, class, and access in secondary schooling.  She began her professional career as a high school history teacher in Charlotte, NC.

Adrian Talbott

Adrian Talbott serves as the Associate Dean for Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. In this role, he develops strategic partnerships with elected officials, community organizations, and other civic leaders that leverage the University’s strengths in research and teaching to collaboratively address pressing social issues impacting communities across Chicago. Prior to joining the University, he co-founded and ran Generation Engage, a nonpartisan youth civic engagement initiative and directed CGI Lead, the Clinton Global Initiative's program for emerging global leaders. Adrian chairs the board of Sunshine Enterprises, a Woodlawn-based nonprofit that develops community entrepreneurs. Adrian earned a B.A. from Amherst College and an M.A. from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Adrian is a 2022 USA Justice Eisenhower Fellow. 

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