CHICAGO – A changing of the guard is set at the civic arm of a prominent Chicago-based business organization that has worked to influence city and state action on pension liabilities.
The Commercial Club of Chicago said Ty Fahner will step down in April from his role as president of the Civic Committee and club after five years. Fahner will hand the reins to Kelly Welsh. Fahner, who has been a member of the Civic Committee since 1998, will remain on the committee.
Under Fahner's leadership, the committee worked to address the state's and city of Chicago's pension debts, continued its support for charter schools, and worked to improve school quality, while growing membership, the club said in a statement. Fahner is a partner at Mayer Brown LLP and is a former Illinois attorney general.
"There is not a larger issue facing Illinois than our dire financial condition. Ty has addressed this challenge with incredible energy, integrity and focus," said Civic Committee Chairman Frederick "Rick" Waddell.
Early in the state budget standoff, Fahner said the state's governor, House speaker and Chicago's mayor need to "remember who they claimed to be when running for election" and deal with the state's problems.
In 2014, the committee launched an initiative to promote a dialogue on the consequences should the Illinois Supreme Court overturn pension reforms. The court later did void those reforms. The committee also previously conducted campaigns to educate the public on the state's pension woes.
Welsh, who served as corporation counsel to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, most recently held the post of general counsel to the U.S. Department of Commerce from 2014 to 2017. He also previously practiced law at Mayer Brown.
"We are thankful that an individual like Kelly Welsh has taken on this responsibility and know that he will provide a strong leadership voice to the organization," said Waddell.