Little City names Marie Newman new chief executive officer

Little City Foundation (Little City), a vital and vibrant 501(c) 3 organization offering a comprehensive scope of services and amenities to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), has named former congresswoman and business leader, Marie Newman, as its chief executive officer. Assuming her new role effective April 17, 2023, Newman will help the organization define its future and move forward into the next decade. Newman will succeed Little City's current leader, Shawn Jeffers, who is departing following his planned retirement after 20 successful years at the helm.

With a background in nonprofit, private sector, and government, Newman is the nexus of where a nonprofit leader leverages tremendous strength in relationships from multiple sectors. Bringing a collaborative, yet decisive, approach to working with complex and interconnected constituencies, Newman believes expertise and a passion for the organizational mission are essential for a strong working partnership. She is a leader known to move missions and initiatives forward and brings her deep commitment to equity to the forefront.

Previously serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Newman was the first woman in history to be elected to Illinois Third Congressional district. Serving in this role as a congresswoman, Newman worked on bringing breakthrough national economic, health care, transportation, mental health, labor, technology, and small business strategies and solutions to over 85 diverse communities. Newman was vice chair of Communications and sat on the transportation and infrastructure committee as well as the small business committee. In addition to passing six bills out of the house and two bills signed into law to date, throughout her congressional term, Newman was directly responsible for acquiring $350 million in appropriations funding for her district.

"My personal dedication to Little City's mission dates to when I first volunteered with my family in my formative years for the organization and when two of my cousins received Little City's services. These memories are still vibrant and guide me today," said Newman. "I applaud the successful work and history of Little City since 1959, and together with the board and the entire Little City team, look forward to charting the course for the next era of the agency following the successful leadership of Shawn Jeffers."

Earlier in her career Newman worked for multiple firms as a marketing agency executive and pursued many entrepreneurial ventures. Serving as executive director and founder, Newman also established her own nonprofit, a national coalition of 70 nonprofits to combat bullying after one of her children was bullied. Through recognition of her work, Newman helped develop a curriculum and manual for anti-bullying systems which eventually made it to the White House level, where a presidential executive order was established requiring all schools to implement anti-bullying programs.

Newman holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a business minor from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

"We were seeking a compassionate, business-minded, and visionary decision-maker to lead Little City forward," said Greg Burns, president of Little City's board of directors. "Marie's executive experience, coupled with her historical and personal passions for Little City's mission, will help Little City in creating a stronger and dynamic future for the people we serve. We have no doubt that she, along with our passionate and talented leadership team, will move mountains. On behalf of the board, we would like to officially welcome Marie to the Little City community and thank Shawn for his 20 years of outstanding leadership and wish him and his family all the best in his retirement years. I would also like to thank the entire KEES team for their dedication and commitment throughout the entire succession process."

Little City competitively selected and retained KEES, a premier executive search firm specializing in executive searches for top nonprofit executive positions such as chief executive officer, executive director, and president roles, as its executive search partner in 2022, following the retirement announcement of the current leader. A comprehensive search was launched, and Newman was ultimately selected from a passionate, motivated, diverse, and talented pool of national finalists. Little City's search efforts were led by a Succession Committee including board President Greg Burns (principal owner at MB3 Consulting), Julie Bell (consultant: Strategic Beauty Marketer), Kelly Evans (chief Human Resources Officer at Little City), Gil Fergus (retired, former Special Consumer counsel at Illinois attorney general's office), Heather Ritter (vice president of Human Resources at Daily Herald Media Group), Dale Rublaitus (retired, former director of Engineering at Motorola Solutions), and Matt Schubert (retired, former president at Paramount Staffing).

"I have known Shawn Jeffers since he started at Little City. It was an honor to be selected as the Succession Committee partner and has been an extraordinary opportunity with deeply committed volunteer leaders. Working with Greg Burns, Little City's board president, and the entire Succession Committee has been remarkable," said Heather Eddy, KEES president and CEO. "Marie -wow! She brings the commitment and experience to provide the best opportunities for children and adults with IDD for generations to come. We are proud to have been selected as Little City's search partner and are excited about what the future holds. Congratulations to the entire Little City community on this exciting announcement."

KEES (formerly Alford Executive Search) is a nonprofit executive search firm that builds diverse teams with dynamic leaders in the nonprofit and public sectors. A woman owned and operated firm, KEES offers a full array of nonprofit consulting services including executive search, leadership development, interim staffing, and HR support. For information, visit

Little City Foundation (Little City) is a vital and vibrant organization offering a comprehensive scope of services and amenities to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). From its modest beginning, the agency has grown to offer services at its main campus in Chicago's Northwest suburbs, locations throughout Cook, Lake, McHenry, and DuPage counties, and at its Foster Care & Adoption offices in Chicago, Matteson, and Joliet. Established in 1959 and granted nonprofit status that same year, Little City was founded by a group of parents who dreamed of a unique and revolutionary environment for their children who "experts" often said should be institutionalized. Today, Little City serves some adults in the program that have called the main campus home for over 50 years.

Over 900 individuals are served in a wide range of residential settings and day programming including 24/7 supportive residential settings for children and adults, a therapeutic children's day school, foster care and adoption, home-based family support, health and wellness services, and a variety of therapeutic day programs such as employment services, horticulture, fitness, and recreation.

Little City is unique and distinct in the array of services offered. Children and adults, along with their families, are served at a 56-acre main campus in Northwest suburban Palatine, Illinois and other residential facilities throughout the Chicago area. To learn more, visit

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