George Lucas

Last year, the Star Wars director—who now lives partly in Chicago, where his wife, Mellody Hobson, works—demonstrated that he has the power to transform the city’s public lakefront. True, preservationists have filed a lawsuit to block construction of the $300 million Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. But with Rahm behind it—and Lucas’s pledge to use … Read more

Mellody Hobson

Last year, Chicago asked about Hobson, then No. 29, “How much more powerful can she get?” Plenty, it turns out. Second in command at the country’s largest minority-owned investment firm, a director of three corporate giants, and an on-air contributor to CBS News, she has also become a Chicago benefactress par excellence. In 2014, she … Read more

Jim Delany

Delany leads the biggest cash cow of college conferences, generating $318 million annually, according to Forbes. And when he goes shopping for a new football TV contract in a couple of years (the current one with ESPN is reportedly worth $1 billion), it won’t hurt that he has a national champion (Ohio State) to brag … Read more

Jeff Smisek

Thanks in part to serious cost cutting and lower fuel prices, the airlines giant posted a profit of nearly $2 billion last year, up 89 percent from 2013. Too bad Smisek is so unpopular with fliers (United sits second from the bottom in J.D. Power’s airline satisfaction rankings) and employees (furious about continued layoffs, they … Read more

Ken Griffin

Why would Griffin jump 16 spots on this list, given his very public, very contentious pending divorce from fellow hedge fund manager Anne (see our Power Smackdown)—a split that could take a sizable chunk of his estimated $6.5 billion net worth? The main reason: The richest man in Chicago donated an eye-popping $13 million (including … Read more

Rocky Wirtz

Inking a deal to expand his $2 billion beverage business, planning a $400 million office complex near the United Center, locking up Blackhawks stars Toews and Kane: This multifaceted mogul has been busy lately. If only the Hawks had managed to snag another Cup.

Blase Cupich

Virtually unknown here six months ago, the mild-mannered former archbishop of Spokane, Washington (population 210,000), now oversees Chicago’s two million Catholics—35 percent of the Cook and Lake County population and the third-biggest flock in the nation. What’s more, he’s but a phone call away from his boss, Pope Francis, a man considered infallible by a … Read more

Sam Zell

“Who makes millions in a garage sale?” marveled Crain’s Chicago Business recently. Sam Zell. Who else? Infamous for snapping up distressed properties (a River North garage bought for $7 million in 2013 by a fund he controls sold for $17 million in January), he’s benefiting disproportionately from the continuing rise in real estate values. Now … Read more

Toni Preckwinkle

Oh, Toni. You passed up what may have been your best shot at the top: Polls last summer put you a whopping 24 points ahead of Rahm if you had run for mayor. Yes, we get that you have unfinished work at the county level: You began 2015 with a $170 million deficit and a … Read more

Michael Sacks

Yes, he’s a wealthy hedge fund boss, but Sacks’s greatest power lies in the public realm. When it comes to solving the pension crisis and other thorny financial issues, nobody has the mayor’s ear more. (Of course, he backed Emanuel’s reelection bid with gusto—and plenty of coin.) His involvement and influence show no signs of … Read more