Obama Foundation taps Lynn Taliento to be chief program officer

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Barack Obama at the South Shore Cultural Center on May 3. | Maria Cardona/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON — Lynn Taliento, the McKinsey & Company consultant who for years has been advising former President Barack Obama on his post-presidential life, has joined the Obama Foundation in the newly created position of Chief Program Officer, the foundation said Friday.

Taliento has played a critical role in helping Obama and former first lady Michelle think through the ways to carry forward the initiatives they started during two terms in the White House.

On April 15, 2015, I reported the scoop that Taliento, a McKinsey partner, was consulting with the foundation to develop options regarding its mission and approach.

Taliento, who leads McKinsey’s Social Sector Practice and who has been deeply involved in helping shape the Obama long-term post-White House strategy, handled the foundation account for her firm.

According to the 990 IRS form the foundation filed in 2016, the foundation paid McKinsey $500,000 for “program services.”

Her appointment comes as the foundation is starting its programming, years ahead of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park that’s set to open in 2022. According to an economic impact analysis released by the Foundation on Thursday, the early estimates for Obama Center spending — construction, programming and other operating costs — will be $675 million between 2015 and 2021.

Foundation CEO David Simas said in a statement, “The Obama Foundation is developing a living, working center for citizenship that will inspire people and communities to take on the biggest challenges and ‘show up’ for the most important office in any democracy, citizenship. We are thrilled to have Lynn as part of our team leading the formation of programs that will train the next generation of engaged citizens, community organizers and world leaders.”

“I am very excited to join the team at the Obama Foundation and develop programs that will give people in Chicago and around the world the tools to address the challenges they see in their own communities,” Taliento said.

Here’s Taliento’s bio, as provided by the Obama Foundation:

Lynn most recently was the leader of the Global Philanthropy Practice at McKinsey & Company. She founded the firm’s first practice area dedicated to the nonprofit sector almost 20 years ago, and since worked with leading philanthropists, nonprofits and innovative corporate foundations around the world on strategy, organization and advocacy. She also led McKinsey’s foundational research on the nonprofit sector, including its seminal report And the Winner Is… on how to design prizes that work. Lynn is a founding board member of Malala Yousafzai’s organization, the Malala Fund, which advocates for girls’ secondary education around the world. She is also board chair of water.org, a nonprofit founded by Gary White and Matt Damon that has pioneered the WaterCredit approach to making water and sanitation solutions affordable for all. Lynn has a B.A. from Yale University and a Master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She spent 4 years in McKinsey’s Mexico City Office and is fluent in Spanish. Lynn and her husband Michael Warren have two kids, Amelia and Noah, and live in Washington, D.C.

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