Q&A With Cheryl Hyman


Q&A With Cheryl Hyman

Cheryl answers questions about her book, higher education, innovation, and leadership.

My professional background is in corporate America—I had moved up through the ranks to a senior leadership position at a Fortune 500 energy company.  But my story began 24 blocks away from City Colleges’ district offices. That’s where I grew up, in the Henry Horner Homes housing project, in a family that had its fair share of challenges.

Twenty-four blocks and many years later, I became the leader of the very community college that first put me on the path to a successful life.  

Appointed to the role by Major Richard M. Daley, it was very flattering to be asked to lead the institution that gave me my start in life. It was also a risk, but Mayor Daley took just as big a risk by appointing me, and later on so would Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who re-appointed me and encouraged me to double down on efforts to drive change.

They knew my story—a homeless high school dropout who, thanks to the community college system, found her way back and grew into an accomplished business executive—and believed it mattered.

Personally, I viewed it as an opportunity to help give students the same chance to succeed that was afforded to me. I walked those 24 blocks in our students’ shoes, and that informed my vision and daily purpose. In the process of changing careers, I found my calling.

Submit your own questions here.