Program Officer, Community & Economic Development
Harkness came to the Foundation from the Chicago Community Trust, where she provided programmatic direction for two special initiatives: The Partnership for New Communities, a civic collaboration formed to support the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation; and the 2016 Fund for Chicago Neighborhoods, a foundation collaboration formed in support of the city’s 2009 Olympic bid. She has been involved with Opportunity Chicago, a $23 million initiative that seeks to improve employment outcomes for public-housing residents and promote programs and practices that will strengthen Chicago’s workforce development system.
Harkness has worked on a number of independent and collaborative research projects related to organizational development in the U.S. and abroad. At the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center, she coordinated a team of graduate research assistants on a study of arts participation and audience engagement. From 2003 to 2005, she volunteered with and researched an international network of community museums based in Mexico. Harkness is a member of the Harris School of Public Policy Alumni Advisory Council and serves on the board of directors of Chicago Women in Philanthropy; she has also been a member of the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council Steering Committee, the Program Committee of the National Public Housing Museum, and Chicago Grantmakers for Effective Organizations.
Harkness holds masters degrees in public policy and Latin American studies from the University of Chicago and a bachelors degree in political science and art history from the University of Rochester.
Alaina Harkness works on the following MacArthur programs and projects: