New Chief Sustainability Officer in Chicago
By Matt Baker
Karen Weigert has resigned as Chief Sustainability Officer at the City of Chicago. Replacing her will be Chris Wheat, previously the head of the Mayor’s Innovation Team.
Wiegert’s last day was January 29th, 2016. Starting in March, she will be the Sr. Fellow for Global Cities at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Before coming to the city, she served as Senior Vice President of ShoreBank and as a strategy consultant at McKinsey. She also was a writer and producer on the climate change documentary, Carbon Nation.
Wheat joined Mayor Emanuel’s Innovation Team in 2011 and became the Director last July. This internal consulting group addresses a variety of issues, from energy use to minimum wages. He previously was a Senior Consultant with Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and an Associate Equity Analyst and Institutional Stock Broker with boutique investment firm Stephens Inc.
“I think the Mayor has built a strong track record on sustainability over his first term,” Wheat said. “My role is to build on the Mayor’s success that was shepherded by Karen’s hard work.” Among the near term goals for the new Chief Sustainability Officer are to oversee expansions of the Divvy and Greencorps Chicago programs as well as to the energy benchmarking program. He will also help in the search for Chicago’s Chief Resiliency Officer, a new position that is part of the city’s commitment to the 100 Resilient Cities initiative.
“The mayor is committed to developing a new sustainability plan this year and so we are beginning the planning process for that now,” Wheat said. “We think that it’s important that we not only hear from all members of the environmental community, but that we hear from everyday Chicagoans as well. So we’re working through ideas to see how to best implement citizen participation in the development of the plan.”
Wheat earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He lives in the West Town neighborhood with his wife and two daughters.
Photo: David Wilson