Cheryl Hughes


Cheryl Hughes is senior director of civic engagement at The Chicago Community Trust. She leads the Trust’s civic engagement strategy implementation and public programs and is responsible for spearheading and developing initiatives as part of the Trust’s new strategic direction.

Throughout her career, Hughes has focused on creating and implementing innovative programs, engagement models and public initiatives in the civic sphere. She has a record of conceptualizing and leading civic initiatives that become nationally recognized, established brands and are often replicated in other cities and institutions. Most recently, Hughes oversaw the creation, planning and implementation of On the Table, the Trust’s largest public-facing initiative ever, engaging nearly 155,000 people. This award-winning model is now being replicated in dozens of communities across the nation.

Hughes has been the driving force behind numerous partnerships designed to inspire civic engagement, including Chicago Ideas Week, the Chicago Humanities Festival, the Chicago Public Library’s “One Book One Chicago” and StoryCorps. In 2012, she directed an international project team to host the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Chicago, the first time the group had assembled in North America. The project received the Publicity Club of Chicago’s Platinum Award—its highest honor.

Before joining the Trust, Hughes served at the Museum of Science and Industry as executive director of Science Chicago, a year-long public awareness and engagement campaign that engaged 300,000 Chicagoans. She also directed program development for the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office of Special Events and served as the first executive director of Gallery 37. Named one of the ten most innovative programs in American Government by the Ford Foundation and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Gallery 37 has been replicated in cities around the world and was the precursor to Afterschool Matters.

Hughes has a master of arts in social science from the University of Chicago, where she received the Earl S. and Esther Johnson Prize for Best Thesis with Policy Implications, and a bachelor of arts in education from Ohio State University. In 2003, she was named a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where she studied theory and models of urban ephemera and temporary urbanism.