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New Executive Director of Neighborhood and Community Relations Named

Anderson to bring energy, skill and passion to role as chief Northwestern liaison to Evanston

  • Two-time alumnus to return to Northwestern to build and strengthen Evanston partnerships
  • Anderson: goal is to work in ‘transparent way with all the key stakeholders’ in the city
  • Chinniah: fortunate to have one of our own lead neighborhood and community relations

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Alan Anderson, an alumnus with engineering and business degrees from Northwestern University, has been named executive director of neighborhood and community relations at the University, effective June 1.

A civic leader and strong advocate for education at the community level, Anderson will be the University’s primary liaison to the Evanston community and serve as a key strategic advisor to Northwestern’s senior leadership. He will create opportunities for Northwestern to build strong, supportive partnerships with Evanston residents, community organizations, schools, civic and business groups, and local government.

“I am delighted that Alan will join us in this important role,” said Northwestern Executive Vice President Nim Chinniah. “His energy, skills and experiences will be an asset to us in strengthening the relationship between the University and Evanston. We are fortunate to have one of our own graduates return home to lead our neighborhood and community relations efforts.”

Anderson will report to Chinniah and work in close partnership with Bruce Layton, special assistant to the president for government relations.

Previously, Anderson was the founding executive director of the Chicago branch of Year Up, a national organization that serves low-income adults, between ages 18 and 24, who only have a high school education or the equivalent through a GED. As a leader of Year Up Chicago, Anderson was and continues to be passionate about the organization’s mission to help urban youth who are out of school and out of work find meaningful careers.

The goal of Year Up Chicago is to take students from the poverty line to a professional career in one year -- providing, for college credit, six months of technical and professional skills training and a six-month internship at a major organization. More than 90 percent of Anderson’s most recent graduating class at Year Up Chicago earned nearly $38,000 per year.

Besides launching the highly successful employment program for low-income adults in Chicago, Anderson also has served in leadership roles for Chicago Public Schools and in industry.

“As a proud two-time alumnus of Northwestern and parent of two kids born in Evanston, I am truly honored to join a world-class University and city, led by President Schapiro and Mayor Tisdahl respectively,” Anderson said.

“My passion and professional experiences have prepared me for this role at Northwestern,” he said. “My goal is to work tirelessly in a highly accountable and transparent way with all the key stakeholders, both within Northwestern and the city of Evanston, to strategically design and launch initiatives that create mutual benefits. True partnerships are powerful, and in my new role I will work tirelessly to create them.” 

“The leadership Alan has shown throughout his career, his intense focus on education as the path to success and his passion for developing talent of underrepresented individuals will serve him well as Northwestern’s primary liaison to the Evanston community,” Chinniah said.

Prior to Year Up, Anderson was the acting chief school design officer in the Chief Administrative Office for Chicago Public Schools, responsible for redesigning and aligning the school closing and opening process to impact school openings for the 2012 school year. He also was responsible for leading a citywide education and advocacy process to inform parents and families on performance of their schools. The effort mobilized parent and community leaders to develop and choose educational solutions to fix their failing schools. 

Anderson also has served as the acting deputy CEO for Human Capital and as the executive director of the Office of School Turnaround and the deputy director of Research, Evaluation and Accountability for Chicago Public Schools. He also completed a residency in urban education at the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, a leadership development program, serving his two-year residency in Chicago Public Schools.

Before joining Chicago Public Schools, Anderson worked at Motorola Inc. for nearly nine years. In his latest position there, he served as business manager for Motorola’s transmission group and was responsible for the company’s $6.5 million transmission business for the Ford Motor Company. Before that, he served as design engineer, design team leader and project manager at Motorola.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Anderson went on to earn two degrees from Northwestern: a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management.

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