For Immediate Release


CHICAGO – Mayor Brandon Johnson announced today that Smita N. Shah has been appointed co-chair of the Workforce Innovation Board (WIB). The WIB is a federally mandated body that oversees the investment of the Chicago and Cook County region’s annual Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) allocation from the U.S. Department of Labor, totaling more than $72M for FY23-24.

“Smita is a proven leader in the business community and an excellent addition to the Workforce Innovation Board,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “With decades of experience in building and leading businesses, I know that Smita will play an integral role in utilizing federal investments to build a better, stronger, safer Chicago.”

“I’m honored to be named co-chair of the Chicago Cook Workforce Innovation Board,” said Smita Shah, President and CEO of SPAAN Tech, Inc. “This city has given me and my family so much as I celebrate my company’s 25th anniversary this year and I could not be more thrilled than to have an opportunity to help impact others through this unique partnership to develop and encourage a thriving economic climate in Chicagoland. I’m grateful to Mayor Johnson for the appointment and I look forward to supporting innovative programming and partnerships that secure a brighter future for all Cook County residents.”

The WIB is comprised of 20 public and private sector leaders in business, organized labor, economic development, education, and community-based organizations appointed by the Mayor of Chicago and the Cook County Board President. With their guidance, WIOA dollars are administered by the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership), a nonprofit umbrella organization operating the largest public workforce system in the country providing services to local employers and jobseekers.

“It is my honor to serve as the co-chair of the WIB board and to play a critical role in investing and leveraging federal workforce development dollars in our region,” said Jacki Robinson-Ivy, current WIB board co-chair and a senior vice president at Northern Trust Corporation. “I know Ms. Shah’s exceptional professional and personal experience will further assist the entire board with continuing to serve residents with a plethora of historical and innovative workforce development services.”

“As the past WIB board of directors co-chair with Ms. Robinson-Ivy, and current CEO, I know the importance of the role and its function in working with staff to ensure The Partnership achieves its mission,” said Partnership CEO George Wright. “It is timely that Ms. Shah is joining as the WIB co-chair in September, as it is Workforce Development month. I know her skills and abilities will allow us to further our important work and continue to provide world-class workforce development programs and services to regional career seekers and employers.”

The Partnership oversees a network of more than 90 community-based organizations, American Job Centers, satellite sites, and sector-driven centers. Since its formation in 2012, The Partnership has helped place approximately 100,000 individuals in permanent employment, collaborated with more than 2,000 employers, and administered more than $471 million in federal and philanthropic funds. Leveraging these WIOA funds, from 2021 to 2022 the average starting wage for laid-off workers placed into employment by The Partnership’s network was over $29 an hour, and the network provided 7,000 recruitment and training services to 1,000 employer-partners.

Ms. Shah is the founder and CEO of SPAAN Tech, Inc., a Chicago-based engineering and construction management firm with 25 years of expertise in public and private infrastructure projects. She is an active leader in the business community as a member of the Economic Club and Commercial Club of Chicago, serves on the boards of MacLean Fogg Company, Inventrust (NYSE: IVT) and ComEd, and as co-chair of Young President’s Organization (YPO) Chicago. Her civic leadership includes serving as a current board member of the Museum of Science and Industry and previously as Vice Chairman of Chicago Plan Commission and was appointed by President Biden to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Ms. Shah has a Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University, a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from M.I.T., and a Post Graduate Certificate in Management Studies from Oxford University.

About The Partnership

The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) is a non-profit umbrella organization operating the public workforce system for the City of Chicago and Cook County.

The Partnership combines federal and philanthropic resources to provide comprehensive workforce development services to employers and job seekers. As the largest public workforce development system in the nation, The Partnership has helped place more than 70,000 individuals in employment; collaborated with more than 2,000 employers; and administered more than $400 million in federal and philanthropic funds. The Partnership’s network consists of 90+ community-based organizations, American Job Centers, satellite sites and sector-driven centers, serving more than 140,000 people annually.  Learn more at