Dan Lynch has been a member of the Chicagoland Chamber for 18 years and on the Board of Directors since 2017, but he’s stepping into an even larger role now: He was officially named Chair of the Board at the Chamber’s recent Annual Meeting on June 4.

Dan is currently Vice President of State and Local Government Affairs at United Airlines, and he’s also a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of the Civic Federation while serving as on the Economic Club.

To understand Dan’s thoughts for the Chamber, we asked him to take a look back on his time with the Chamber so far, his goals for the Chamber’s future, and his favorite music venue in Chicagoland.

1) How did your career path lead you you to your current role at United?

I started working on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and I received a master’s degree in public policy thinking I would make a career in government. Over time, though, I developed an interest in how government and business interact and work together to solve policy challenges. 

I returned to Chicago and landed at the Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago, which was a critical part of my transition from government into the private sector. At the Civic Committee, I had an amazing mix of experiences: On the one hand, I learned from some of Chicago’s most successful CEOs and business leaders; on the other hand, I worked closely with elected officials and senior staff from both the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois on various issues and projects.

Those experiences fueled my interest in pursuing a role in government relations at a Chicago company, and since I was working on a project at the Civic Committee to build support for O’Hare airport’s runway modernization, United Airlines was at the top of my list since it’s such an iconic Chicago company. The rest, as they say, is history…

2) You’ve been involved with the Chamber since 2006 and a member of the Executive Committee since 2018. What sticks out most in your mind from this time?

The Chamber’s enduring leadership of the business community. Organizations naturally undergo changes over time, from leadership transitions to shifting economic tides. But the Chamber has endured those natural ebb and flows, and remained the voice of the business community in Chicago. I marvel not that I’ve been involved with the Chamber for 18 years, but that the Chamber just celebrated its 120th Annual Meeting. That is a proud legacy. 

3) What vision do you have for the Chamber as Chair?

As I said in my remarks at the Annual Meeting, my goals at the start of my new term are straightforward: 1) keep the Chamber growing and vibrant – we are already in a great position thanks to the hard work of Jack Lavin and Kevin Cassidy; 2) maintain the Chamber’s leadership position as the voice for the business community; and 3) work alongside Jack to collaborate with the governor, mayor, and other elected officials to solve our greatest economic challenges. My goals may evolve during my term depending on the needs of the organization and the city, but for now I think that is a good place to start. 

4) What challenges do you see facing Chicago’s business community? Similarly, what makes you optimistic for the future of Chicago?

Like most major cities, Chicago and its business community face a number of post-pandemic challenges, which we are wise to view as opportunities as much as challenges. We have opportunities to improve our economic climate, public safety and workforce development pipelines, and to ensure all of Chicago’s residents and neighborhoods benefit from the solutions. 

But I will point to one of my previous answers to show why I’m optimistic about the future of Chicago: the city has a long, proud history dating back more than 180 years, and the Chamber has been a part of that legacy for much of that time. Over the years, the city has certainly experienced its share of prosperity and hardship. But Chicago has always bounced back from a challenge, and a major part of the reason why is because we benefit from institutions like the Chamber that remain engaged and vested in the city’s success.

5) What is something about you that would surprise people?

Little did I know that my predecessor Kevin Cassidy and I are kindred spirits in our love for music. One of my favorite things to do is to see live music, and Chicago really is a top city for that with dozens of great venues. One of my favorite venues close to home is historic Fitzgerald’s Nightclub in Berwyn. They have it all, including jazz, blues, country, and rock almost every night of the week. If you haven’t been there, you have to go check it out.