Chicago’s Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot has named Aarti Dhupelia, vice president for undergraduate education and dean of the undergraduate college at National Louis University, to Lightfoot’s education transition team.
“I am honored and excited to serve the city in this way, through bringing my own K-12 and higher education perspectives to the table as well as through helping to ensure the voices of our committee and the broader community are heard,” Dhupelia said.
Dhupelia serves as one of four co-chairs on Lightfoot’s Education Transition Committee, which consists of nearly 60 members in all. They are tasked with gathering input on education issues from stakeholders across Chicago.
Producing a transition report
The committee began its work six weeks before Lightfoot’s inauguration day, which will be May 20. The members aim to provide her with strong recommendations that will help to shape the future of education in Chicago.
“We are responsible for developing a transition report for the mayor-elect that aims to reflect the feedback we’ve heard about what should be the top priorities in her education agenda,” Dhupelia said.
The committee is meeting formally three times during the six-week period, and additional youth and community forums are taking place throughout the city to gather more feedback. Dhupelia held a listening session at NLU on April 23.
The co-chairs asked committee members to reach into their networks to solicit more input, with a particular focus on hearing the views of students, families and educators.
Individuals are also welcome to take this survey that is open to all Chicagoans and Chicago educators interested in sharing their views about how to improve education in the city. Responses are due by 5 p.m. on May 1.
Dhupelia’s work at NLU
Dhupelia runs one of the most remarkable programs in the nation that enables lower-income youth from under-resourced neighborhoods to enroll in a four-year bachelor’s degree program, persist until graduation and secure meaningful jobs. In her four years at National Louis University, the program has grown rapidly from 85 to nearly 1,200 students, employing technology, success coaches, personalized learning, streamlined course pathways, blended classes and other tools to enable students to enroll at a very affordable $10,000-per-year tuition price. Eighty-five percent of the students have incomes low enough to qualify for Pell grants, which reduce or eliminate their tuition cost.
Prior to joining National Louis University in 2015, Dhupelia served in senior leadership roles at Chicago Public Schools, including chief of the office of college and career success. There, she strategized on issues such as attendance and truancy, re-engaging dropouts, social and emotional learning and college and career planning. Before CPS, she worked as a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies at Marakon Associates.
Dhupelia holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.A. from Northwestern University and is a member of Northwestern University’s Council of 100. She was a judge in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Career App Challenge.