Former Chicago Chief Financial Officer Lois Scott will lead the board overseeing the Center for Municipal Finance at the University of Chicago.

CHICAGO – Lois Scott, the former Chicago chief financial officer, will helm a new advisory board at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy that oversees its expanding Center for Municipal Finance.

Scott co-owned a financial advisory firm before taking the city's top fiscal post after Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2011 election. She launched Scott Balice Strategies in 2003 and previously spent a decade as a public finance banker. She also served as a White House Fellow during the Clinton administration.

Scott, who co-founded the organization Women in Public Finance, currently serves on the boards of the Chicago Stock Exchange and insurer MBIA, and will serve a term on the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago's board beginning in January. She is a board member for the Retirement Security Initiative.

"Lois Scott will bring a lot of depth and leadership to the board," said Kerwin Charles, the Harris School's interim dean. "Her years of experience in public finance, as a banker, advisor, credit provider and ultimately as a government official will help bridge the gap between academic research and practitioners, one of the key goals of the center."

Charles said Scott brings with her wide-ranging experience in city management of services and enterprise systems, experience with public-private partnerships and debt management. He praised her efforts to promote government transparency.

In the role, Scott will provide oversight of the center's efforts. Executive director Mike Belsky said he believes Scott's reputation will help the center recruit prominent leaders and seek further philanthropic support.

Scott's relationship with the school dates back to 2011 when she co-founded and chaired the Municipal CFO Forum at the Harris School, a semi-annual gathering of CFOs from America's 30 largest cities to discuss new ideas and promote adoption of best practices.

Boosted by new grant funding this year, the school wants to expand the center's voice on municipal finance research and education. The school received a $1.75 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, allowing it to hire Belsky and other staff.

The center putting together a comprehensive database with city and state financial and pension data and default and privatization information that will allow for in-depth research and direct comparisons among governments.

As part of its growth spurt, the center intends to expand the municipal finance certificate it already offers to graduate students. The center offers coursework to about 15 to 20 students annually and has seen many land public finance jobs at investment and financial advisory firms.

The center also is offering grants for academic research projects on topics that range from public sector pensions and bond financing to infrastructure, taxation, and the politics of public finance.

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