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How We Made This List

How do you define power? For the purpose of compiling this list—Chicago’s third annual ranking of the 100 most powerful Chicagoans—we started with proximity. (You don’t spend most of your time in the area? No dice. Sorry, President Obama.) You need not boast riches, pedigree, or position, though those things can help. You must have the influence, ability, or potential to make big things happen, for good or for ill. When you talk, people listen.

It says a lot about how Chicago works that even though Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois House speaker Michael Madigan both had lousy years, no ascending political stars, corporate titans, or intellectual gadflies knocked them out of the No. 1 and 2 positions. But plenty of other people plunged. The usually impervious alderman Ed Burke, for one (down 17 spots to No. 39), got bruised from the same charter school scandal that kicked ex–UNO chief Juan Rangel (formerly No. 32) off the list completely. Also gone: former White House chief of staff Bill Daley (No. 72 last year), thanks to opting out of the gubernatorial race.

One person’s misstep, however, is another’s gain. With the Democratic field cleared, Governor Pat Quinn (No. 70 last year) finally cracked the top 50. And plenty of newcomers vaulted onto the list, including Archer Daniels Midland CEO Patricia Woertz (No. 7), who chose Chicago for her corporate HQ, and Michelle Grabner (No. 36), whose appointment to cocurate the Whitney Biennial is electrifying the art scene. For details on them and everyone else, turn the page.

By Mark Bazer, David Bernstein, Carly Boers, Cassie Walker Burke, Adam Doster, Carol Felsenthal, Elly Fishman, Noah Isackson, Kaitlyn Jakola, Esther Kang, Robert Loerzel, Ann Meyer, Whet Moser, Penny Pollack, Dennis Rodkin, Carrie Schedler, Bryan Smith, Emmet Sullivan, Jennifer Tanaka, and James Ylisela Jr.
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