Mark Payne, Executive Director
Prior to taking the reins as Executive Director of Public Allies Chicago in 2021, Mark served as Principal of SOW SOLUTIONS LLC, where he worked to build individual and organization capacity at non-profits, government agencies and with elected officials on policy, training, and reform in the areas of positive youth development, public safety and economic and community development. His clients included SCB architects, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Link Unlimited and The Obama Foundation. Prior to this he served as Executive Director of CeaseFire Illinois where he led efforts to rebuild CeaseFire’s Violence Interrupter program. While there he raised approximately $7 million dollars and helped to restore state funding to fully implement CeaseFire’s Violence Prevention Program.
Mark has 20 years of experience in government and community relations, economic development and youth development. Before leaving Chicago city government to lead CeaseFire Illinois, He served the City of Chicago in various Public Safety policy roles. As the Deputy Chief of Staff / Public Safety for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Mark served as liaison to five Public Safety Departments. While serving as Deputy Director to the Superintendent’s Office at the Chicago Police Department he developed a key partnership with DePaul University’s Egan Urban Center to revitalize and restructure the Community Alternative Policing Program (CAPS). He re – trained the entire CAPS staff (sworn and civilian) in Asset Based Community Engagement methods. He also served as a co-facilitator for the National League of Cities Black Male Achievement Initiative and served on the leadership team of Mayor Emanuel’s Commission for a Safer Chicago as well as the Department of Justice’s National Forum on Youth Violence.In 2010, Mark served as the Director of Public Affairs for Chicago’s newly formed Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), where he worked with the Chief Administrator to successfully lead the transition from the Chicago Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards (OPS). At IPRA, Mark was responsible for strategic partnerships, relationship building and communications with elected officials, community organizations and local and national media outlets.
He served as the General Manager of Government and Community Relations and as Senior Government and Community Relations Officer at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) where he managed, coordinated, and represented CTA as a liaison to legislative bodies, units of government, community organizations, and key CTA staff members on local and regional transit issues.
Mark has received various awards and recognition for his service, including: Illinois’s 20 outstanding leaders for the 20th leadership awards for AmeriCorps Alums; Chicago City Council Resolution for exemplary service to the City of Chicago through his work at CTA, Introduction speeches for President William Clinton at Civic Opera House in Chicago and again at the University of Chicago in celebration of youth service. Mark was also a recipient of the UnSung Hero Award by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Urban Studies Program and the Hewlett Packard Leadership Award for leadership in the City of Chicago.
In 2001, Mark traveled to South Africa at the request of President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela as part of a ten-member delegation for an advocacy campaign to engage South African youth in National Service. His work help found City Year South Africa. Mark was awarded the ALL AMERICORPS Award at the White House, which honors visionary AmeriCorps members working toward shared goals within the community. Mark is a fellow with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an intensive executive leadership program, now in its third decade, designed to give child and family-serving professionals the confidence and competence to lead major system reforms and community change initiatives that get results. He is an alumnus of City Year Chicago, Public Allies Chicago and the Lugenia Burns Hope Center Leadership Training Institute.