Honorary Co-Chairs and Hosts

Governor JB Pritzker was sworn in as the 43rd governor of the state of Illinois on January 14, 2019 and won election with the largest margin of victory over a sitting governor in more than a century.

After taking the oath of office, Governor Pritzker immediately began working with Democrats and Republicans to accomplish one of the most ambitious and consequential legislative agendas in state history. During his first session, the governor passed a balanced budget with a bipartisan majority, making historic investments in education and human services, while restoring fiscal stability to Illinois. The governor also won bipartisan passage for legalization of adult-use recreational cannabis and for Rebuild Illinois, the largest investment in state history to upgrade roads, bridges, rail, broadband, and universities in every corner of the state.

The governor took bold action, putting state government back on the side of working families by creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, making college more affordable for nearly 10,000 additional students, and advancing equal pay for women.

A national leader in early childhood education for over 20 years and having organized President Obama’s White House Summit on Early Childhood Education, Governor Pritzker this year made childcare and preschool more affordable in Illinois for tens of thousands more families. He also partnered with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Share our Strength to fight child poverty by expanding school breakfast programs in low income school districts across our state.

Before becoming governor, Pritzker founded 1871, the non-profit small business incubator in Chicago that has helped entrepreneurs create more than 11,000 jobs and more than 1,000 new companies. Since the creation of 1871, Chicago has been named one of the top ten technology startup hubs in the world, and 1871 was named the best incubator in the world. As governor, he has expanded support for new business incubators and cut taxes for hundreds of thousands of small businesses while incentivizing job creation and innovation. He also extended research and development tax credits to help manufacturing workers and businesses thrive, and he worked with the business community to create apprenticeship tax credits to promote job training.

The descendant of refugees, Governor Pritzker believes our state and our nation should welcome and protect its immigrant families and that we must fight against the wave of intolerance that has risen in recent years. Before becoming governor, he led the creation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, a nationally recognized institution where hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, police officers and others learn to fight bigotry and hatred. As governor, he has built the most diverse cabinet and governor’s office in Illinois history.

Governor Pritzker and First Lady MK Pritzker have been married for more than a quarter century, and they are the proud parents of two children.

Lori E. Lightfoot is the 56th Mayor of Chicago.

Since assuming office on May 20th following her historic election, Mayor Lightfoot has undertaken an ambitious agenda of expanding opportunity and inclusive economic growth across Chicago’s neighborhoods and communities, with early accomplishments including historic ethics and good governance reforms, worker protection legislation, and closing a record $838 million budget gap, as well as key investments in education, public safety and financial stability. Mayor Lightfoot also placed Chicago on the path to a $15 minimum wage by 2021.

Prior to her election, Mayor Lightfoot most recently served as a senior equity partner in the Litigation and Conflict Resolution Group at Mayer Brown. Previously, she served as President of the Chicago Police Board, as well as the Chair of the Police Accountability Task Force.

Mayor Lightfoot also served as Chief of Staff and General Counsel of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, interim First Deputy of the Chicago Department of Procurement Services, Chief Administrator of the Office of Professional Standards, and as Assistant United States Attorney.

A native of Massillon, Ohio, Mayor Lightfoot has been a resident of Chicago since 1986 and lives on the Near Northwest Side with her wife Amy Eshleman and their daughter.

Keynote Speakers

Keynote speakers and moderators include some of the region’s most influential decision makers.

State of the Great Lakes Economy Session

Douglas Porter has over 25 years of experience analyzing global economies and financial markets. As Chief Economist at BMO Financial Group, he oversees the macroeconomic and financial market forecasts and co-authors the firm’s weekly flagship publication, Focus. Mr. Porter manages the team that won the prestigious Lawrence Klein award for forecast accuracy of the U.S. economy, and was named by Bloomberg as top Canadian forecaster.

As a respected commentator on economic and financial trends, he is regularly quoted in the national press and often interviewed on radio and television.

Before joining BMO, Mr. Porter held the positions of Economist and Country Risk Analyst with other Canadian financial institutions, and also worked at the Bank of Canada.

Mr. Porter has been a member of C.D. Howe’s Monetary Policy Council since 2008 and also serves on the Investment Management Committees of the Bank of Montreal’s Pension Fund Society and Western’s Endowment Fund.

Mr. Porter has been a Chartered Financial Analyst since 1995 and earned a masters degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario.

Megan Leslie began as President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada in December of 2017 after nearly two years at the organization, first as a consultant on ocean governance, then as head of ocean conservation. Before joining WWF, Megan was a Member of Parliament representing Halifax for two terms during which she was deputy leader of the Official Opposition, environment critic and vice-chair of the government committee on environment and sustainable development. In Parliament, Megan introduced a motion to ban plastic microbeads; this motion passed unanimously, leading to a ban on the Canadian manufacture, sale and importation of these products. She also expedited the creation of Sable Island National Park Reserve.


Catherine Clark is a nationally respected broadcaster, public speaker, emcee and writer, and the President of Catherine Clark Communications Inc.

Through her work in television and radio, Catherine has interviewed Canada’s most influential people to reveal the personal, human side of public life. She also served as the host and co-producer of The Residences, a television documentary series offering an unprecedented look behind the scenes at the homes of Canada’s leaders at Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex Drive.

Catherine is the Giving Back columnist for Ottawa at Home Magazine, has written for the Toronto Star and The Ottawa Citizen, and been published in The Globe and Mail, Canadian Living and Magazine FORCES.

Catherine is a member of the national board of CARE Canada and of the organizing committee of the Politics and the Pen Gala benefitting The Writers’ Trust.


John Cruickshank serves as Canada’s Consul General in Chicago with accreditation to Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, northwest Indiana, and Kansas City Metro.

Previously, Mr. Cruickshank has enjoyed a distinguished career in newspapers and television in both Canada and the United States. He served as the Chairman of the Canadian Journalism Foundation and Co-Chair of Canadian Press Enterprises. He was Publisher of the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, and President of Star Media Group from 2009 until 2016. He served as Publisher of CBC News from 2007 to 2008 where he was responsible for all English language television, radio and online news. Before joining the CBC, he was Publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and Chief Operating Officer of the Sun-Times Media Group from 2003 to 2007 as well as Vice President, Editorial, from 2000 to 2003.

Mr. Cruickshank is also a former Managing Editor of The Globe and Mail and former Editor-in-Chief of The Vancouver Sun. He worked for The Montreal Gazette and started his journalism career with the Kingston Whig Standard.

Born and raised in Toronto, Mr. Cruickshank is a graduate of Trinity College at the University of Toronto. He was honoured with a Doctor of Sacred Letters from Trinity College in 2013.

Greg Stanford assumed his duties as Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General in Toronto in August 2018. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the personal rank of Minister-Counselor, he has been a diplomat since 1988.

Greg has had the privilege to hold a number of challenging positions largely in the management and resource spheres both in Washington and overseas. Most recently, Greg was Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of State for Management, a Deputy Assistant Secretary-equivalent position.

His foreign postings include Management Minister-Counselor in Kabul (2013-2015), Tokyo (2012-2013), Bangkok (2009-2012), and Bogota (2007-2009), as well as tours in Hanoi, Manila, London, Dublin and Nouakchott. Greg also worked in the Office of the Executive Director in both the Bureau of Consular Affairs (1990-1992) and Bureau of Diplomatic Security (1994-1996) in Washington.

Greg is the recipient of the Department of State’s 2003 General Services Officer (GSO) of the Year Award and 2012 Equal Employment Opportunity Award. He has also received Senior Performance Pay, Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards.

Greg speaks French and is a proud native of Michigan. He is married to Françoise Stanford; they have two children.

Stephanie is the Senior Director of the Sustainability and Circular Economy Program at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center. She oversees the development of programming that promotes understanding of key circular economy and sustainability issues including around design, new business models, and transformative partnerships. Before joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Stephanie served as Vice President of Sustainable Business Development at Rabobank where she led the Bank’s North American sustainability strategy. Rabobank is a premier bank to the international food and agriculture industry as well as a leading financier of solar, wind, bioenergy, and energy infrastructure projects.

Stephanie has extensive entrepreneurship and public-private partnership experience, having supported global corporate partnerships and venture growth at Ashoka and, prior to that, fund management and early stage enterprises at Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2). Stephanie received degrees in Political Science (BA) and International Comparative Education (MA) from Stanford University.