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.

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


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.”

More 2024 Democratic National Convention coverage
Lollapalooza is typically the busiest hotel weekend of the year for Chicago. But a Sun-Times search shows average daily hotel room rates during the Democratic National Convention may be nearly $50 higher during its four-day stint in Chicago.
Federal and local officials have repeatedly said they are ready for what could be one of the biggest events to hit Chicago in decades. It’s been described by one Chicago police official as bigger than the 2012 NATO Summit and 1996 Democratic National Convention.
“This is just a target-rich stew for the Russians to try lots of things and see what works,” says Max Bergmann of the Center for Strategic International Studies.
Trump and Biden face crucial strategic decisions on how to play the conviction. They’ll meet for their first debate June 27 in Atlanta, Trump will be sentenced July 11 and the Republican National Convention kicks off July 15 in Milwaukee.
Inspector General Deborah Witzburg warned that using pepper spray and corralling protesters ‘risks escalating tensions and violating constitutional rights of lawful demonstrators.’
How can anyone process the myriad realities that make up Chicago?
Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2022 spoke before state Democratic Party leaders in New Hampshire and Florida, fueling speculation that he was plotting a presidential run in 2024. Since then, he’s repeatedly tamped down questions about his presidential ambitions.
Before the Chicago convention in August, Democrats will hold a virtual roll call to nominate President Joe Biden to a second term in order to qualify for the Ohio ballot, columnist Lynn Sweet writes.
The lack of a defined, public strategy isn’t a criticism of city officials. The goal is to show that Chicago can embrace protest and the exercise of free speech rights.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden host a state dinner in honor of Kenya’s president and his wife.
The police department’s troubled response to the protests and unrest in the summer of 2020 looms over preparations for the convention in August.
With 89 days until the convention kicks off, organizers and state and local officials meet with the media and woo influencers who could connect with hard-to-reach voters.
The vice president spoke about reproductive rights and the critical importance of the upcoming election at a fundraiser in a Glencoe home.
Hay talento sin aprovechar que nuestra ciudad tiene que ofrecer, y es fundamental impulsar más recursos permanentes como los que se están construyendo para la convención.
The Southern Poverty Law Center urged Mayor Brandon Johnson and Police Supt. Larry Snelling to reconsider the decision not to take disciplinary action against eight officers connected to the Oath Keepers, six of whom admitted to joining the group.
There is untapped talent our city has to offer, and it is critical to push for more permanent resources like the ones being built for the convention.
Ald. Brian Hopkins plans to hold hearings to find out how the CTA will cope with bus service and other contingencies in August.
The Israel-Hamas war is heightening fears of unrest, but convention leaders say they’re confident in their partnerships with Mayor Brandon Johnson, Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling and the U.S. Secret Service.
From endorsing a new Bears stadium to revoking the subminimum wage, Brandon Johnson’s critics and allies examine where he and the city are going.
‘The X is the event,’ Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Chicago Sun-Times about the location, which will be the central hub for about 60 agencies involved in designing and implementing convention security.
Biden, stopping in Chicago after a campaign tour of swing-state Wisconsin, is mining the deep pockets of Democratic megadonors in Illinois.
President Joe Biden hits Chicago Wednesday for a fundraiser after a stop in Racine, where his visit will spotlight one of Donald Trump’s economic flops, the failed Foxconn plant, which never employed the promised 13,000 workers.
Biden was last in Chicago on April 8 for a fundraiser. Chicago, which is hosting the Democratic National Convention in August, is a big source of campaign cash.
On Aug. 20,1972, this reporter was assigned to cover the hordes of hippies, yippies, women’s libbers, Marxists, gay rights advocates, Black Panthers, and anti-Vietnam war vets tenting, talking, and toking it up in Miami’s Flamingo Park before the Republican National Convention kicked off.
The civil liberties group filed a federal lawsuit Thursday on behalf of Bodies Outside of Unjust Laws, a left-leaning group whose marching permit was denied by the city.
“I remember coming out of my apartment one day and spotting Chicago cops dragging young protesters out of one section of Lincoln Park and shoving them into trucks, while nearby poet Allen Ginsberg was chanting in a circle of peaceful protesters not far away from the radical Abby Hoffman,” remembers Dan Webb, who later became a U.S. attorney.
It’s the second late-night series to announce local convention plans, after CBS’ “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”
Preckwinkle said she expects the Democratic Party will be united behind President Joe Biden as he seeks reelection.
Five event production companies, nearly all based in Chicago, will be throwing the official parties for the Democratic National Convention in August.
Democrats are deeply focused on Wisconsin and Michigan to help bolster President Joe Biden’s re-election chances — and officials, in town for meetings hosted by the Democratic National Convention Committee, say they plan on showing voters a deep party contrast.

The Latest
He’s aware of trade rumors, says extension hasn’t been discussed with Sox
The holiday honors the day in 1865 when the last enslaved African Americans learned they had been freed — two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth was made a state and federal holiday in 2021.
Lee catches Garrett Crochet in his third game of Mariners series behind the plate.
Morgan Stanley employees join Kaboom! staffers in creating a safe playspace at the Mitzi Freidheim Child & Family Center. ‘Being able to wave to the kids and seeing the excitement on their faces has been just amazing,’ one volunteer said.
This piece, based on Khaled Hosseini’s novel, is quite modest, but modesty — the focus on the central character’s interior journey, the clarity of the relationships, the novel’s language, the spare rather than the spectacular — has its own beguiling charms.