Chicago Ideas Week Preview Party

 “This year is a really important year to talk about issues, to talk about ideas,” said Gabrielle Zuckerman, the director of programming for Chicago Ideas. “This is a time for creativity.”

She was speaking to a crowd of Chicago Ideas members on a mild summer night at last week’s CIW Preview Event — hosted on the Savage Smyth rooftop.

This year’s Chicago Ideas Week, which will take place October 16–22, is all about how ideas change the world. And it has the lineup to support. At the preview event, Zuckerman and her colleagues detailed a few of the CIW programs they were looking forward to, including:


The State of Our Union CIW’s opening night show; a combination of speakers and performances. It will “present an uplifting vision of America, which, I think, we really need right now,” said Director of Marketing and Media Sona Jones.

A Seat at the Table a program highlighting how Black women have revolutionized their industries, featuring Emmy-nominated writer Lena Waithe (Denise on Master of None) and Uber Chief Brand Officer Bozoma Saint John.

Sidelined: The Future of Football a discussion of the sport’s current evolution, featuring former NFL player Warren Sapp and neuropathologist Bennet Omalu (portrayed by Will Smith in the 2015 film Concussion).


Plus, many more. The full schedule is live on the Chicago Ideas Week website — members can purchase tickets now, and general tickets go on sale September 12.

In the spirit of ideas changing the world, Chicago Ideas is also launching an activation called “Hello,” which will place temporary booths throughout the city. Inside, people will converse onscreen with a person in another part of Chicago.

Prompts will be provided to spark “maybe a difficult conversation with someone you’ve never met before,” explained Jones. Plus, the booths will be designed and decorated by local artists.

Beyond getting a sneak peek of the schedule and upcoming activations, the preview event was also about bringing together Chicago Ideas’ Community of Curiosity.

“We have the best Member and Sponsor community,” said Director of Membership Bonnie Shifrin. “We love any opportunity to gather them together to celebrate ideas and to make connections with other like-minded people.”

For such an occasion, the right venue is essential.

“We like to host our Preview Party at unique, hip venues that may not already be on people’s radar,” Shifrin explained. “Savage Smyth couldn’t have been a better choice!”

Wrapping up her remarks, Zuckerman noted that the theme of this year’s Chicago Ideas Week is Uncharted — “very apropos for this moment in history.” Now, more than ever, the world needs big ideas.

If you’d like to support Chicago Ideas and gain access to thought-provoking, exclusive events year round, become a member here.