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Chicago Urban League names Lionel Kimble Jr. Executive Director

Photo caption: Lionel Kimble Jr., PhD.

Lionel Kimble Jr., PhD., is vice president of Research & Policy Center

The Chicago Urban League has named Lionel Kimble Jr., PhD., as vice president and executive director of its Research & Policy Center.

Kimble, who also serves as Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at Chicago State University, began the role in mid-January. He is responsible for developing and overseeing the League’s mission-aligned advocacy and research agendas, program development, and certain strategic project activities. He will report to the President and CEO and serve as a member of the executive management team.

“Dr. Kimble’s deep historical knowledge of the experiences of Black Chicagoans, along with his thoughtful approach to advocating for socially-just policies, are a great match with the qualities we were seeking to lead our Research & Policy Center,” said Chicago Urban League President and CEO Karen Freeman-Wilson.

“I am confident that he will help us continue to build on our existing body of research and enhance our role as a trusted advocate and source of information about the economic, environmental, political and social factors affecting our communities.”

Kimble has written and lectured extensively and appeared on several national and international news programs. His first book, A New Deal for Bronzeville: Housing, Employment, and Civil Rights in Black Chicago 1935-1955, was published by Southern Illinois University Press. He has also published several articles focusing on Black war workers’ and veterans’ issues during the 1940s and 1950s.

Aside from teaching and research, Kimble is the former Vice President of  Programs for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He is also a consultant for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum exhibit on Civil Rights and is a board member of the Bronzeville Trail Task Force. He holds a BA and a PhD. in History, both from the University of Iowa.

“The Chicago Urban League has long served as one of the vanguards in the struggle for equity and opportunity in our city,” said Kimble. “As someone who has spent more than 25 years examining the Black freedom struggle in Chicago, the chance to work here affords me an invaluable opportunity to not only further work on the study of Black citizens in Chicago, but it also allows me to work alongside a dynamic group of people engaging in work to bring about substantive change in our communities. I am truly looking forward to working here.”

The Chicago Urban League, which has been involved in researching the conditions of the city’s Black residents since its founding more than 100 years ago, suspended its Research & Policy Center in 2011 before relaunching it in 2016.

Kimble fills the vacancy created by the departure of the new Center’s founding director, Stephanie Schmitz-Bechteler, who left the position in November 2021. The League had partnered with the Institute for Racial Justice at Loyola University in Chicago on research projects during the interim.

Established in 1916, the Chicago Urban League works to achieve equity for Black families and communities through social and economic empowerment. For more information, visit Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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