Chicago’s 2024 Democratic Convention: Kaitlin Fahey named host committee interim executive director

Fahey said her duties as interim executive director means putting the initial team in place and being the liaison between the DNC and local leaders.

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Kaitlin Fahey is the interim executive director of the Chicago Host Commitee for the 2024 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Kaitlin Fahey is the interim executive director of the Chicago Host Commitee for the 2024 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Provided

WASHINGTON — With Democrats deciding to hold their 2024 presidential convention in Chicago, the next steps are falling into place, including naming Kaitlin Fahey as the interim executive director of the host committee.

The major burden of raising $80 million to $100 million needed for the convention Aug. 19-22, 2024, will fall on the Chicago host committee, with the group also responsible for arranging and managing crucial logistical aspects.

Fahey, 40, came up in politics mainly through working with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

As a young Capitol Hill staffer, Fahey met Duckworth at a fundraiser for the senator in Washington when the wounded Iraq war vet was making her first run for the House in 2006.

Fahey attended because Duckworth was running from the suburban district where Fahey grew up.

Enamored with Duckworth, “I used my week of vacation to volunteer on her primary campaign,” Fahey told the Chicago Sun-Times.

From there, over the years, Fahey has worked on Duckworth’s political and government sides, from Duckworth’s initial House campaign to her winning a Senate seat.

Duckworth named Fahey her first Senate chief of staff, a role she held until April 2021. She left to launch, with two partners, a consulting firm, Magnify Strategies.

In an April 29, 2021, floor speech, Duckworth paid tribute to Fahey.

Duckworth said she called Fahey “The Hammer” because “she is one of the only people in the world who scares the living daylights out of me but in the best way possible.

“And you can also see why I have been so lucky to have her in my corner all these years, to have her as a partner in office pranks, and to have her as a sister, who I could count on to simply sit in silence on the other end of the phone and cry with me after my miscarriage.”

When Duckworth, a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot decided to bid for the convention, Fahey’s firm, Magnify Strategies, was called in to manage the process from initial fundraising to a site visit from the Democratic National Committee, Washington pitch meetings and putting together all the information called for in the bidding documents.

Magnify’s Leah Israel, another founding partner and a host committee fundraiser, was the chief fundraiser for the 2020 Democratic Convention in Milwaukee. That committee raised about $45 million for the gathering, which ended up being mostly virtual because of COVID.

Paul Kohnstamm, also a founding partner, helped organize the coalition of convention stakeholders, which includes Chicago’s labor and hotel communities.

Fahey, Israel and Kohnstamm will continue as top advisers to the Chicago host committee, which is in the process of being expanded. Fahey was named interim executive director by the Democratic National Committee and local leaders.

The initial leaders of the host committee — called Development Now for Chicago — are Michael Sacks, board chairman and CEO of GCM Grosvenor, Jesse Ruiz, Pritzker’s former deputy governor, and Ald. Michelle Harris (8th).

Fahey said her duties as interim executive director mean putting the initial team in place and being the liaison between the DNC and local leaders.

“We’re starting to build the apparatus around the convention,” she said.

Meanwhile, the DNC and the Biden White House are in the process of selecting the CEO for the Democratic National Convention. While the top Chicago host committee spots will likely be filled by locals, the CEO job does not require someone with strong local roots.

Fahey, now an Evanston resident, grew up in Oak Park and Elmhurst.

After graduating from St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, she picked up an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, majoring in government and Spanish. She later earned a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Northwestern University.

Fahey met her husband, firefighter Scott Waddle, when they were classmates at Northwestern. They are the parents of three: Ronan, 7; Brenna, 4; and Maeve, who is a year old.

Joked Duckworth in that 2021 floor speech about Fahey, the Hammer: “I don’t thank you for not letting me get a margarita machine for the office, however.”

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