Gretchen Crosby Sims appointed executive director at Institute of Politics

Gretchen Crosby Sims will be the new executive director at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, the institute announced today.

Sims is an accomplished leader in the fields of politics and public policy, reflecting her deep commitment to the values of service and civic engagement central to the IOP’s mission.

Most recently, she was a director at Social Finance UK, a leading impact investment consulting firm in London. Previously, she served as the chief program executive at Chicago’s Joyce Foundation, where she oversaw grant making programs in seven issue areas, ranging from education to gun violence prevention. She also served for six years on the board of the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues.

“Gretchen’s rich background and obvious passion made her a splendid choice,” said IOP founder and director David Axelrod in announcing the appointment. “She’s an exceptional person who will bring great energy and vision to the IOP. I’m thrilled to welcome her.”

Sims succeeds Steve Edwards, who in August returned to Chicago public radio as vice president and chief content officer for WBEZ.

Since opening its doors in 2013, the non-partisan IOP has brought more than 1,000 speakers from across the political spectrum and around the globe to engage in thoughtful dialogue with UChicago students.

Each quarter, the IOP also hosts a roster of visiting fellows; distinguished practitioners in politics, policy, and journalism, who lead seminars and mentor students. The IOP has sent more than 800 students on life-changing internships in the U.S. and overseas and supported students in launching innovative and impactful civic engagement programs of their own conception.

“Now more than ever, our country needs thoughtful, talented leaders for its political and civic institutions,” Sims said. “The Institute is playing an extraordinary role in inspiring, informing and preparing the next generation of those leaders for public service, and I’m delighted to join David and the IOP team in January to continue and strengthen this work.”

Sims has also worked at the Council on Foreign Relations, CNN, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and as a policy adviser to presidential candidate Bill Bradley. She holds a BA in government from Harvard University as well as PhD and MA degrees in political science from Stanford University, where she won a departmental award for teaching excellence. She was selected as an inaugural Fellow of the Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Program, created by the Aspen Institute and the New Schools Venture Fund.