History of ChicagoFIRST

Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Chicago’s financial leaders began contemplating the need for a more formal approach to the mutual aid that firms had provided each other during previous incidents, like the “Chicago Flood of 1992.”  In 2002, the U.S. Treasury Department expressed concern that the close physical proximity of critical firms created unique risks and the Treasury reached out to Chicago’s financial community with the goal of addressing those risks through a public private partnership for resilience

Through the support of the Treasury and the financial sector, ChicagoFIRST announced its formation as a nonprofit association at a July 2003 joint press conference with the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

The two leaders who provided the vision and blueprint for ChicagoFIRST were Louis Rosenthal, Executive Vice President at LaSalle Bank /ABN AMRO, and Rohit Kumar, Chief Technology Officer at the Options Clearing Corporation.  BITS loaned their Chief of Staff Teresa Lindsey for six months to ensure the vision became a reality.  Furthermore, the members not only funded the organization, but also contributed time, ideas, and project leadership that made implementation of this public private partnership possible.

The operational partnership offers situational awareness and provides opportunities to connect with trusted peers to develop solutions to common problems through working groups, roundtables, workshops, and exercises.  In these trusted venues, members speak openly about successes and challenges, sharing plans, metrics, and the outlines of various risk management programs.

Through leadership roles at the local, state, and federal levels, ChicagoFIRST has developed longstanding relationships with the public sector through which ChicagoFIRST acts as a trusted intermediary on issues of importance to members.  Public Sector agencies often invite ChicagoFIRST staff to participate in government own risk assessments, planning sessions and exercises to provide  private sector input to vital to the success of their planning, mitigation and response strategies.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. Treasury Department are among the entities that have identified ChicagoFIRST as a model for public private partnerships.  To date, nearly two dozen other such “FIRSTs” have formed, and ChicagoFIRST established the Regional Partnership Council (RPCfirst) in 2005 to facilitate collaboration among them.  Through RPCfirst, the individual coalitions collaborate with one another and, as a group, with the national financial sector partnership and the other critical sector partnerships formed under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Today, ChicagoFIRST membership includes  a variety of critical infrastructure and key resource firms doing business in the Chicago area and surrounding counties that share similar risk profiles.   These private firms govern ChicagoFIRST operations though an elected Board of Directors, fund its activities, and manage its two full-time employees, who serve as an extension of the members’ staff in addressing risk management issues affecting each firm.

For more information on becoming a member, please send us a message using “Let’s Connect”.

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Michael Carano

abc def 123 456 Johns Hopkins 1997

Testimonials

  • ChicagoFIRST has truly made a positive difference to the collective emergency preparedness and business continuity of Chicago’s financial community.  It has become a model for many other cities throughout the country.  We are especially grateful that the City of Chicago has an impressive reputation for working together with its business community, the State of Illinois and federal government agencies, and other key organizations through the ChicagoFIRST partnership structure.  This approach is extremely effective and helpful in supporting the broader Federal Reserve objective of maintaining a stable financial system.

    Gordon Werkema, First Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
  • ChicagoFIRST is a dynamic, cutting edge organization and a model for how regional public/private partnerships can enhance the resiliency of financial institutions. ChicagoFIRST was founded because of the foresight of the Chicago financial services community, and it succeeds because of the cooperation and encouragement of the public sector, especially the City of Chicago and State of Illinois.

    Rahm Emanuel, 5th Congressional District (D-IL)
  • The timely and accurate information streams that I receive through ChicagoFIRST more than justify membership. When the airplane landed in the Hudson River in New York City in January 2009, I learned about it before my colleagues in New York did.

    Michael Wallace, Vice President, BMO Harris Bank

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