Chicago may be known as the “City That Works,” but that’s because the county -- Cook County that is -- works. In this day and age, reform (especially of the fiscal kind) is often lauded as the platform for any political campaign, so it was a no-brainer for newly elected Cook County President, Toni Preckwinkle, to enlist rising wunderkind, Kurt A. Summers, to ensure a streamlined government for the second largest county in the U.S.

Public Eye
Summers initially began his career as a strategy consultant and later joined Goldman Sachs & Co. working in both investment banking and leveraged finance. The Harvard Business School grad reflects on how his unusual trajectory is what he always wanted. “When I wrote my business school essays in 2002, I said that I wanted to weave an elegant tapestry between the public and private sectors, lending best practices from each to make the other better,” he says. “My career has followed that path, but it's been more about unforeseen opportunities than by design. I left the private sector to work for [Cook County] President [Toni] Preckwinkle because I thought this would be an amazing, once-in-a-generation type of opportunity to truly change a unit in government that sorely needed it.”

Olympic Loss
Before joining Cook County, Summers’ first taste of public life was when served as Chief of Staff for Chicago 2016, the city’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in 2009. The ambitious plan called for development in struggling neighborhoods and was considered a sure win for the city. Unfortunately Chicago lost to Rio de Janeiro. “It was devastating!” said Summers. “So much effort, such a wonderful opportunity for Chicago’s future, crushed in a matter of seconds. I remember calling my wife from Copenhagen, still in shock and not able to explain how I felt. I hope Chicago bids again someday.”

County Matters
It’s hard to keep up with everything Cook County manages -- a $1 billion public hospital system, a jail that holds nearly 10,000 people daily, and a court system that sees almost two million cases per year, are just a few. Summers, a Hyde Park resident, explains what it all means. “We walked in the door and immediately faced a $487 million dollar budget deficit that we solved for in less than 90 days. This year it is $268 million dollars and we will have a balanced budget,” he explains. “[This] means you will receive better healthcare from your public system, more investment in infrastructure, smarter investment in creating jobs and a more transparent and effective justice system.”

Meaningful Acronyms
It’s hard to believe Summers has accomplished so much in his 33 years, but he explains how the 3 P’s (Prayer, Partnership and Perspective) serve as a guide through life’s every day challenges. “I try to every day and make time to reflect on the word. For Partnership, I have the most amazing, patient and supportive wife in the world. She keeps me focused on what’s important. Finally, perspective is key. I don’t get caught up or overwhelmed by the day-to-day problems or fires because I’m focused on the bigger picture, on our place in history, on our ability to make changes that will last for generations.”

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10 Things To Do, See And Eat In Chicago This Fall
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  • Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf

    Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf functions as a steakhouse suitable for schmoozing over business dinners, nestled in a giant leather booth while drinking martinis, noshing on rib eye and listening to the sounds of jazz. But there’s also a dark basement area filled with the sounds of fast music booming-bass pumping, a paradox in the same River North location brought to us by well-known restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff, whose trademarks include leather couches, distressed brick and sepia-toned lighting. <em>218 W. Kinzie St. 312-624-8154</em>

  • 48th Annual Chicago International Film Festival, Through October 25

    For two weeks, the best films from around the world will be on display at Chicago’s AMC River East 21 Theater for the 48th annual Chicago International Film Festival. 150 films from 50 counties will be presented by first-time directors and legendary filmmakers alike. Panel discussions are expected to take place, along with plenty of star sightings. For ticket information, be sure to visit <a href="http://chicagofilmfestival.com/">the film festival’s official website</a>.

  • City Tavern

    You won't find preening, trendy old-timeyness here, just authentic 18th-Century-referencing and decidedly masculine charms: gas lanterns, black Windsor chairs, a thirty-foot walnut bar and a coal bucket fireplace. Former Sepia chef, Kendal Duque, straddles tradition and innovation; indeed, where else might you sample such glories as sunchoke velvet soup with braised oxtail and marrow dumpling, or fish and shellfish pie with fennel, lobster-sherry sauce and potato crust? A beer selection just shy of a hundred should keep the punters coming back again and again. <em>1416 S. Michigan Ave. 312-786-1401</em>

  • DIGNITY Photography Exhibit, October 20

    For one night only, you’ll have the opportunity to be moved and inspired by breathtaking images at DIGNITY Chicago’s photography exhibition, fair and auction benefiting the non-profit organization <a href="http://www.acumenfund.org/ten/">Acumen Fund</a>. The event will showcase photographs for auction by renowned and emerging artists taken in regions where Acumen Fund is tackling poverty. Savory nosh will be provided along with beer, wine and cocktails and an open bar. Guests will also be treated to a performance from talented <a href="http://jamilawoodswrites.com/">poet, playwright and vocalist Jamila Woods</a>. Advance tickets are $45 and $55 at the door. <a href="http://chicago.plusacumen.org/events/dignitychicago/">http://chicago.plusacumen.org/events/dignitychicago/</a>

  • Jellyfish

    If delicious sushi, sleek designs and swanky décor is what you seek, it can all be found at Jellyfish. Chef Harold Jurado and sushi chef Andy Galsan have collaborated to create the perfect menus for lunch, dinner and late-night dining. The pan-Asian and sushi offerings include items like kabocha squash skewers, Szechuan king crab, miso-glazed cod, spicy tuna tempura, and of course nigiri and sashimi. The cream-colored leather cushions, off-white specked bar and blue mosaic tiles set the perfect aquatic scene – somewhat reminiscent of a Miami lounge. In warmer weather, the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Rush Street open to let in a cool breeze. Sit still long enough, you just might hear the ocean. <em>1009 N. Rush St.; 312-660-3111 </em>

  • Nesh Mediterranean Grill

    The quick-serve Mediterranean food fixture has expanded from Lincoln Park to the Loop. It’s still the same casual healthy food place that patrons fell in love with. Fresh-baked pita, shawarma, falafel, kabobs and baba ghanoush are staples at Nesh, but it’s the bread that really gets the people going. The oven, imported from Lebanon, is responsible for the traditional pita as well as larger hand-stretched flatbreads for wraps. There’s also a create-your-own salad option and smoothies made from real fruit. <em>734 West Fullerton Ave.; 773-975-6374 </em>

  • Phoebe's Cupcakes And Espresso

    The cozy bakery, formerly known as Phoebe’s Cupcakes, offers a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu in addition to its tasty sweets. Phoebe’s Cupcakes is known for rotating more than 200 signature flavors over the course of the year by featuring 15 flavors a week, and lucky for you, that won’t change. Owner Phoebe Walker’s goal was simply to marry great coffee and espresso with great gourmet pastries and sandwiches. It’s simple comfort food made from high quality ingredients and prepared by culinary school trained chefs. But don’t expect to walk in and be greeted by a maître d’. Phoebe’s still has a mom-and-pop, neighborhood vibe with first come, first serve seating. <em>3351 N Broadway St.; 773.868.4000</em>

  • Pumpkin Carving Festival, October 19

    Round up the kiddies and become a part of history at this year’s Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival. HGTV and the Guinness Book of World Records will be on hand to try to break the world record for the most pumpkins being carved simultaneously! $10 gets you one pumpkin, while $20 gets you an all-you-can-carve weekend pass. Pumpkins will later be displayed along through the main drag in Highwood. Attendees can also expect carnival rides and food vendors. Visit the <a href="http://highwoodpumpkinfest.com/">festival’s website</a> for more details.

  • Roof on theWIt

    Rooftop fun shouldn’t be limited to the summer – at least that’s what the folks at theWit believe. The swanky downtown Chicago hotel unveiled the new and improved ROOF on theWit bar that now features a retractable glass roof which means later nights and year-round fun. Despite all the new changes, tasty menu options like roasted artichokes with almonds and tuna crudo will remain the same. Guests can indulge in hibiscus margaritas or mellow out with wine from the Euro-centric wine list; all while sitting 27 stories high in the sky. Evenings can get quite amped, so if you’re not a fan of crowds, an after-work drink might suffice. <em>201 N. State St.; 312-239-9501 </em>

  • SuitSupply

    Sip espresso and enjoy city views all while getting your new suit tailored. An unparalleled shopping experience is the focus of the second opening of Suitsupply in the US. Now Chicago fellas can enjoy the Amsterdam-based companies’ tradition of offering the finest Italian fabrics, European styling -- all within an unexpected Gold Coast penthouse with a rooftop -- at an attainable price. From suits and cufflinks, to pocket squares and scarves; there’s no short supply of items that will have you turning heads in the boardroom or a night on the town. <em>945 N. Rush St.; 312-340-6909</em>