December 2008: George Ranney '58
George A. Ranney ’58 of Grayslake, IL, has been a leader in Chicago civic affairs for decades. Mr. Ranney is currently President and CEO of Chicago Metropolis 2020, a business-backed organization of leading area business and civic leaders working together to ensure the success of the Chicago metropolitan region in the 21st century. With his wife Vicky, he also developed Prairie Crossing, a nationally recognized green community in north suburban Grayslake, based on conservation design principles, a project begun with his uncle, the late publishing executive Gaylord Donnelley ’27. Mr. Ranney also continues to serve as Senior Counsel to the Chicago law firm of Mayer Brown LLP.
Mr. Ranney was graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude, with a B.A. in 1962. He was given membership in the Phi Beta Kappa Society and was a Harvard University Smith Travelling Fellow from 1962-1963. He received his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1966 (Order of the Coif); and served as editor-in-chief of the Law Review.
Mr. Ranney began his career as law clerk to The Honorable Carl McGowan, U.S. Court of Appeals, Washington, D.C., in 1966, and then served as a litigator in the Test Cases and Appeals Division for United Charities of Chicago in1968. He worked at Mayer Brown LLP of Chicago from 1968-1969 and then served as Deputy Director of the Bureau of the Budget for the State of Illinois in Springfield for the next four years. Mr. Ranney also served in various capacities over many years for Inland Steel Industries, a billion-dollar business unit of the country's fourth largest steel company, including tenures as Vice President of Raw Materials, and also General Counsel. Mr. Ranney’s public service also includes chairing task forces for three different governors and a run for the U.S. Senate in 1986.
His current work at Chicago Metropolis began in 1996 when the Commercial Club of Chicago, comprised of leading area business and civic leaders, undertook the project to address the numerous issues vital to the social and economic well-being of the six-county region. It is implementing long-term policies for regional growth, emphasizing transportation, housing, early childhood education, and criminal justice. Chicago Metropolis is also heading up the year-long celebration for the 2009 Centennial of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago.
Long interested in environmental issues and the preservation of open space, Mr. Ranney and his wife, Vicky, were champions of the creation of Lakefront Gardens for the Performing Arts in a former rail yard on Chicago’s lakefront back in 1977, paving the way for the evolution to Chicago’s world-famous Millennium Park.
Mr. Ranney is a member of The National Academy of Arts and Sciences and was a 2004 recipient of the Order of Lincoln, awarded by the State of Illinois as its highest honor. He is a Trustee of the University of Chicago, the Conservation Fund, WTTW-Chicago Educational Television, the Field Foundation, the Metropolitan Planning Council, and a past Trustee of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Newberry Library and the Spencer Foundation. He served as a lecturer and member of the Faculty Committee on Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago from 1975-1980. He previously served on the Visiting Committees to the School of Law at Harvard and the Kennedy School of Government.
Mr. Ranney grew up in Libertyville township where he and his wife Vicky now live. The Ranney family also spends time at their family ranch in New Mexico where George and his siblings (including Ed Ranney ’60) are working to erect a conservation-minded and environmentally-friendly wind farm. They have three adult children and three grandchildren.