Commencement

Jarrett is honored by President Marx
Photo: Charles Quigg '09

Valerie Bowman Jarrett

Doctor of Humane Letters

Through her work in Chicago government and residential development, as well as her leadership on a number of boards, Valerie B. Jarrett is improving life in Chicago, especially for the city’s low- and middle-income residents.

The granddaughter of former Chicago housing chief Robert Taylor, Jarrett has served since January as president and chief executive officer of The Habitat Company, one of the nation’s leading residential apartment developers and managers and the company charged with overseeing the overhaul of public housing in the city. Before joining Habitat in 1995, Jarrett served for eight years in key posts in Chicago city government—first as deputy corporation counsel for finance and development, then as deputy chief of staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley, and finally as commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development. In this role, she was largely responsible for revitalizing development in Chicago’s North Kenwood-Oakland and Woodlawn neighborhoods. Before becoming involved with city government, Jarrett was an attorney in private practice, specializing in commercial real estate.

Jarrett also has a made a significant mark on Chicago through community service. She has found time for leadership on a number of civic and not-for-profit boards that are enhancing the quality of life in the Windy City. Recently retired as chair of the Chicago Transit Board, which oversees the workings of the nation’s second-largest transportation system, she is a trustee of the University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Executive Council of Metropolis 2020. She also serves as vice chairman of The University of Chicago Hospitals Board and is president of the Southeast Chicago Commission. She chairs the board of the Chicago Stock Exchange and serves as a director of USG Corporation and The Joyce Foundation.

Jarrett holds an A.B. degree from Stanford University and a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School.

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