Julia Stasch

Hers is the hand that controls a spigot pouring out $220 million a year in grants, more than any other foundation in Chicago. Though Stasch has held the top job for barely a year, she’s already well into a major overhaul: MacArthur is narrowing its focus, seeking a bigger impact in fewer areas (justice, climate … Read more

Mary Dillon

Dillon’s three years at the helm of the Bolingbrook-based retailer have been a thing of beauty. Ulta’s current 860 stores? Dillon wants 1,200. Ulta has hired more than 5,300 people to staff the hundreds of stores she’s already opened. Among her fans: Starbucks, which recently asked her to join its board.

Chancellor “Chance the Rapper” Bennett

Chicago’s biggest emcee since Kanye, Chance has been on fire lately. He released his first-ever free album on iTunes (the critically worshiped Surf , with bandmate Donnie Trumpet), headlined Pitchfork, and became the first-ever unsigned act to perform on Saturday Night Live. All the while, he used his platform (1.3 million Twitter followers and counting) to … Read more

Dick Durbin

Now in his fourth term, Durbin is the second-longest-serving U.S. senator in Illinois history. The liberal lion enters 2016 with a few choice items on his bucket list—stricter gun control as well as immigration, criminal justice, and higher-ed reforms—and plenty of fire in his belly. Many political oddsmakers bet on the Democrats recapturing the Senate … Read more

Martin Nesbitt

Barack’s bestie, entrusted to preserve the president’s legacy, is raising the dough and ratcheting up the planning for what will be the most significant civic project in Chicago since Millennium Park: the Obama library, a potential game changer for the economically depressed South Side. If only we knew where it’ll be: Jackson Park or Washington … Read more

Michael Sacks

A perennial on this list, Rahm’s most valuable unpaid adviser and confidant (they’re like brothers), a bigtime asset manager ($55 billion under management), and the vice chairman of World Business Chicago (the city’s chief corporate ambassador), Sacks is a bona fide superpower in the worlds of business and politics. He and his wife, Cari, contributed … Read more

Steve Easterbrook

“We begin 2016 in a much better place than we were 12 months ago,” Easterbrook told analysts in late January. And it’s no empty boast. Mere months after taking the reins at the struggling Oak Brook–based burger behemoth, Easterbrook gave customers what the company had previously insisted was impossible: breakfast all day! After the August … Read more

Lori Healey

If all had gone according to plan, Healey would be scrambling right now to get Chicago in tiptop shape to host the Summer Olympics. Instead, as head of McPier since April, she’s scrambling to keep tourists and conventioneers coming to the city. The headwinds are strong, including $3.5 billion in bond debt, flat hotel occupancy, … Read more

Blase Cupich

Don’t let the gentle voice fool you: In his first year as shepherd of the nation’s third-­largest Catholic flock, Cupich roared. He stood up to American bishops at an important synod in October, supporting a controversial path to Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. He used his moral authority to publicly criticize Rauner’s antiunion … Read more

Joe Mansueto

Mansueto speaks softly but makes very big things happen. He has already revolutionized the way investors get information (Morningstar), showered largess on his alma mater (funding for U. of C.’s library), and kept business magazines going strong (Fast Company and Inc.). Now the Indiana native is brainstorming with other big-shot biz leaders about creating a … Read more