Listen: Andrea Zopp joins Tony Sarabia to talk about the newly created role and how she plans to transform some of the city's most struggling neighborhoods.
Andrea Zopp, former U.S. Senate Candidate and leader of the Chicago Urban League, is officially taking a job with the Emanuel administration.
The mayor’s office announced late Wednesday that Zopp will serve as Deputy Mayor and Chief Neighborhood Development Officer, a new position at City Hall.
"What people need to know is that there's somebody sitting in the mayor's office, with access to the mayor, who will be coming out and talking to them," she said, speaking to WBEZ's Morning Shift on Thursday. "My job is to be focused on how can I make every neighborhood in this community, but particularly the ones that are suffering the most, better places to live."
Zopp is a familiar face around Chicago political circles because of her tenure as President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League and in her roles at the United States Attorney’s office and Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Zopp was appointed to lead of the Chicago Urban League in 2010, but she left that position to run in this year’s Illinois Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. Zopp lost to current Democratic US Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who will face Republican Senator Mark Kirk in the general election this fall.
Zopp also held leadership positions at companies like Sara Lee, Sears Holdings and Exelon. She served on the Board of Education for Chicago Public Schools, where she voted for the $20 million no-bid contract between CPS and SUPES Academy, the deal at the center of the corruption scandal involving former schools chief Barbara Byrd Bennett. Zopp later defended her vote in a meeting with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, where she said that Bennett’s ties to SUPES Academy didn’t raise any alarms, and “was a plus, not a negative because she had experience with them.”
Zopp also voted to close nearly 50 schools during her time on the board. Morning Shift asked whether this would compromise the community's trust in her in this new position.
"That was a challenging decision, but the fact is that I'm here now to do this job," she said. "I'm going to do this job and do it well."
She joined WBEZ’s Afternoon Shift program three years ago to discuss the Chicago Urban League, the school closings and the future of CPS after the 2012 teacher’s strike.
The mayor’s office said Zopp would not be replacing the current Deputy Mayor Steve Koch, rather the two would split duties. Zopp will focus on neighborhoods, while Koch will oversee economic affairs.
Koch, a former investment banker and long time Chicagoan, has served in his position since September of 2012. The position of Deputy Mayor usually pays $1 a year.