AARP: Building Presence, Power and Influence in Chicago and Beyond
March 21, 2021
Politics in Chicago is like nowhere else — they don’t call it the Windy City for nothing. So, when AARP Illinois wanted to engage with the Chicago City Council for the first time after a historic mayoral race, we knew whom to call: Alexandra Sims, the founder and leader of APS & Associates.
Alex is a power player in the Chicago and Illinois political scene. Driven by the belief that one’s birthplace and economic status should not disproportionately determine one’s life journey, Alex has dedicated her career, and the work of her firm, to voting rights and social justice. And her work has been recognized: She has been named a Chicago Urban League fellow and a Top 40 Gamechanger by Ariel Investments and WVON Radio, and has been recognized by Chicago magazine, the Chicago Tribune, VoyageChicago magazine, and Rollingout.com. In the white-male-dominated space of political strategy, Alex has built a team of women of color into one of the top political strategy firms in the state.
Alex worked with the AARP Illinois team to build an effective initial strategy for engaging the 50 members of the Chicago City Council, of whom over two-thirds were new to the council. From “City Council 101,” where the Illinois team learned the not-so-formal processes of the City Council, to critical introductions and working relationships with the various caucuses within the council, Alex’s support and guidance were critical to AARP’s success in our first year of Chicago advocacy: two successful advocacy campaigns — one on utilities, another on the passage of an accessory dwelling unit ordinance. As a result, AARP Illinois has now established itself as an important voice and policy expert on issues for older adults in Chicago.
And our work continues: Alex has helped AARP Illinois build critical relationships with the governor’s team, including supporting our statewide graduated income tax campaign, as well as with new leadership in the state House of Representatives. With the shifting political winds in Chicago and Illinois, it is important for AARP to have a partner like Alex by our side.
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Mary E. Anderson is a manager of advocacy and outreach for AARP Illinois.