Alumni (National Fellow)

Gretchen Crosby Sims

National Fellow
Ph.D. Stanford University (2003)
Professional Sector:
Dream Mentor:
Cathie Martin
Boston University
Fields of Interest:
History of Capitalism
Political Economy
Social Issues


Gretchen Crosby Sims is executive director at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. Sims is an accomplished leader in the fields of politics and public policy, reflecting her deep commitment to the values of service and civic engagement central to the IOP’s mission. Most recently, she was a director at Social Finance UK, a leading impact investment consulting firm in London. Previously, she served as the chief program executive at Chicago’s Joyce Foundation, where she oversaw grant making programs in seven issue areas, ranging from education to gun violence prevention. She also served for six years on the board of the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues. Sims holds Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in political science from Stanford University and a B.A. in government from Harvard University.

Thesis Description:

Social Responsibility and the Political Power of American Business
Sims’s dissertation examined the rise of corporate social responsibility (CSR) among America’s most powerful companies as a source of political power. In recent years, many companies have embraced the notion of CSR and invested significant resources in strengthening their communities, supporting their employees, protecting the environment, and making philanthropic contributions. She argued that many of the things firms do in the name of CSR represent the provision of public goods, the practice of self-regulation, or the giving of politically valuable philanthropic gifts. These activities can give firms special standing with three groups of political actors: legislators, regulators, and other interest groups.

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