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Jianan Shi named President of the Chicago Board of Education

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Chicago Public School students deserve a leader dedicated to education and committed to community.

At the heart of CUE is a shared commitment to equity in action, which is why it’s so exciting to see CUE fellows take public accountability in this work as they step into larger civic leadership positions.

Jianan Shi (2020 CUE Fellow, 2022 CUE Senior Fellow) has been named President of the Chicago Board of Education, bringing his values as a former educator, organizer and systems thinker to the position. He was recently interviewed by Chalkbeat Chicago to discuss his journey into this new role and how he intends to promote Chicago Public Schools’ commitment to community.

Portrait of Jianan Shi with the Chicago skyline in the background.
“I want us to shift from looking at lagging indicators, and move towards how we invest in communities. If we provide well-resourced neighborhood schools, if there’s abundant social services and affordable housing in Chicago, those communities will grow back, right?” — Jianan Shi, Chalkbeat Chicago

Jianan co-led a project with Cliff Helm (2020 CUE Senior Fellow) on Public Finance for Public School Elections to assess the implementation of an equitable public financing system for the Chicago-elected representative school board. The project developed out of a desire to make running for office more accessible for those most impacted by education policies.

“I saw Jianan’s passion and drive for equitable education in CPS. He has an amazing ability to lead by working with people that are directly impacted by an issue to get a deep and meaningful understanding. I'm excited to see what the Board is able to accomplish with Jianan as President.” — Cliff Helm, 2020 CUE Senior Fellow

They presented their findings at the 2022 Annual CUE Showcase last December. In April, Jianan was appointed to the Education & Youth Subcommittee for the 2023 Mayoral transition team and named President of the Chicago Board of Education in July.

More colleagues spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times on working with Jianan and what his 16-month term as appointed President means to the progressive education movement.

“Jianan is the most emotionally intelligent colleague I’ve ever worked with...A really thoughtful and insightful leader in terms of what a group needs in order to move forward.” —Deanan Digitale-Grider, Solorio Academy Faculty

As an educator, organizer and leader, Jianan is uniquely suited to serve as President before a partially elected school board takes over for the first time in Chicago history. Voters will elect 10 members to the Chicago Board of Education in November 2024.

“It’s my job as board president to build a coalition of folks that work towards increasing revenue for Chicago Public Schools at every level. Before January, I intend on meeting with every elected (official) that touches Chicago.” — Jianan Shi, Chalkbeat Chicago

Congratulations to Jianan! As the 2023-2024 school year launches, we wish him the very best in this impactive role.

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