Neely: City Hall’s most powerful Black woman
by Wendell Hutson, Chicago Defender
Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed her treasurer in December 2006. She later won a citywide municipal election in February 2007.
But City Treasurer Stephanie Neely is quick to say that she is not a politician–she’s a public servant.
Regarded by some and feared by others as City Hall’s most powerful Black woman, Neely is responsible for safe guarding the city’s bank account, which she said has a balance of $5.5 billion to $7 billion.
“But I don’t want people to get the wrong idea that they cannot meet with me,” she told the Defender. “I am still accessible to the public. I have an open door policy and try to talk with everyone even if it’s by phone.”
Even the mayor has to come to Neely for money, once it’s approved by the City Council.
“If the mayor needs some money he has to come to me,” she explained. “I in turn would transfer money to the comptroller’s office who in turn can cut a check for the amount needed.”
Part of her responsibility is to not only protect the city’s money but to provide for it to earn interest as well.
“I do this by protecting principal, maintaining liquidity and earning the highest possible investment return for the city,” she said. “In addition to our core mission, promoting economic development is also a top priority of my office.”
Neely also serves on five pension boards, which represent city employees. The Treasurer’s Office also partners with aldermen, churches, community-based organizations, chambers of commerce, and other government agencies to conduct community outreach events to promote economic development.
Several Black financial institutions also do business with her office: Illinois Service Federal, Seaway Bank and Trust Company and Loop Capital Markets LLC.
And when it comes to helping small businesses, her office offers two programs, the Small Business Loan Program and the Small Business Expo. These programs are designed to help small business owners apply for a business loan and to meet and network with government agencies, financial service organizations, chambers, non-profit agencies and fellow small business owners.
Neely grew up on the South Side where she lives today as a single mother of a 9-year-old son. When not at work she spends a lot of time with him and her two Rottweilers. She also enjoys exercising, playing golf and bike riding.
Neely earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Smith College and an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago.
She has served on the board of several civic and business organizations.