New leader to enhance initiatives aimed at increasing tech talent, capital and business growth in Chicago
Woods joins WBC from the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, where she ran a number of innovation initiatives including the Corporate-Startup Challenge. The Challenge is an award-winning program to connect startups and emerging growth firms with established corporations in Illinois.
Prior to that, Woods worked for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs where she tackled global policy issues including energy, immigration, and agriculture.
“Alya’s experience leading programs that bring together corporate, entrepreneurial and community leaders will enhance WBC’s ability to drive growth in Chicago’s technology sector across industries,” said World Business Chicago President & CEO Jeff Malehorn. “We are thrilled to welcome her into this important role for our organization.
“Creating and running a program like the Corporate-Startup Challenge gave me a unique look at the entrepreneurs, corporate innovators, and community stakeholders who are working together every day to put Chicago on the technology map,” said Woods. “I look forward to leveraging those experiences to help drive some really exciting new projects with the leadership of ChicagoNEXT.”
Created by Mayor Emanuel in 2012 with founding Chairman J.B. Pritzker, now Chairman Emeritus, the ChicagoNEXT mission supports growth across the Chicago science and technology ecosystem. ChicagoNEXT has placed a particular emphasis on web and mobile, bioscience and medtech, cleantech, and financial technology. Its goals include attracting talent, engaging university and corporate alumni, increasing available venture capital, raising Chicago’s tech profile, connecting entrepreneurs with Chicago’s corporate community, providing a voice for the technology community and improving data collection and reporting.
ChicagoNEXT is chaired by Mark Tebbe, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. The council works in conjunction with the City of Chicago and aligns efforts with both the City’s Chicago Tech Plan and WBC’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs.
“Mayor Emanuel understands that connecting talent with opportunities is the key to a robust tech ecosystem,” said Tebbe. “Alya is the right person to bring both critical thinking and on-the-ground experience to that challenge, and to take Chicago and ChicagoNEXT to the next level as a top global city for technology.”
Woods received her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Yale University and her Master of Arts in international relations from the University of Chicago.