Former White House adviser Susan S. Sher will return to the University of Chicago on Aug. 1, in a new role as Executive Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Public Affairs at the Medical Center, reporting to the Dean and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, and Senior Adviser to the President of the University.
She will coordinate the Medical Center’s external relations initiatives, develop and oversee corporate-relations strategy, and represent the University of Chicago Medical Center to corporate and civic groups. She also will advise Medical Center leadership on a range of strategic and organizational issues, especially as they relate to governance, communications, community engagement and labor relations.
In her role as senior adviser, she will advise University President Robert J. Zimmer on national health care issues and on strengthening the University’s connections to corporate partners throughout Chicago.
“We are delighted to bring Susan back to the University of Chicago in this new role,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, Dean of the Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs. “She knows the strengths of our institution already, as well as the challenges we face, and she has considerable experience working with our local community as well as city, state and national leaders.”
Sher, who was Vice President for Legal and Governmental Affairs and General Counsel of the University of Chicago Medical Center from 1997 to 2009, comes back to the Medical Center after spending two years at the White House, where she was Special Assistant to the President and Associate White House Counsel — a position that focused on the legal issues related to health care reform. In June 2009 she became Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff for First Lady Michelle Obama. In addition, she served as White House Liaison to the Jewish Community.
Sher worked closely with Michelle Obama from 2002 to 2009 while Obama was Executive Director for Community Affairs and subsequently Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the Medical Center.
“I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to come back to the University and to work with President Zimmer and Dean Polonsky in this unique role,” said Sher.
She has extensive experience in health care and legal issues. From 1993 to 1997 Sher was the first woman to serve as Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago, the city’s chief lawyer, responsible for representing the Mayor, city departments, boards and commissions on all legal matters. Prior to that she was the first Assistant Corporation Counsel, from 1989 to 1993. From 1985 to 1989 she was Associate General Counsel and Director of Labor & Litigation for the University of Chicago.
A graduate of the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law and George Washington University, Sher recently joined the Board of Trustees of Loyola University. She served previously on many boards, including as past chair of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Mt. Sinai Hospital Medical Center & Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital & Care Network. She also was on the Board of Directors of High Jump and ofthe YWCA of Greater Chicago. She also has served on a variety of task forces and committees involving not-for-profit corporations and health care, including the Illinois Hospital Association, the Attorney General’s Charitable Advisory Task Force and the Donor’s Public Trust Task Force.