About Ameya Pawar

Ameya Pawar is the former alderman of Chicago’s 47th Ward and the first (and only) Asian and Indian American elected to the Chicago City Council. After leaving office, Ameya joined the Economic Security Project as a senior fellow and is working on narrative change efforts around guaranteed income and public options, including public banks.

In 2020, Ameya was named a Leadership in Government Fellow with the Open Society Foundations (OSF). His OSF work has focused on public banking and public options with leading figures and organizations across the country and world. In addition, Ameya is a senior adviser to The Academy Group, a Chicago-based social enterprise working to break the racial wealth gap and is a lecturer at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.


Open Society Foundations Leadership in Government Fellow


Economic Security Project Senior Fellow


McCormick Foundation Executive Fellow


Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics


University of Illinois Edgar Fellow


Crain’s Chicago 40 under 40


US State Department Critical Language Program alum


Reimagining Public Finance

With Public Banking & Guaranteed Income

Every person needs a bank to deposit earnings, cash checks, save, and pay bills. In addition, banks are the conduit to good, wealth-creating debt: home and business loans. When made systematically within a community, these loans increase property values, broaden the tax base, and lead to better-funded schools and public amenities. In sum: money follows money.

Why Public Banking

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we finally acknowledged that the best solution for poverty is cash, but getting cash to people requires infrastructure. And that’s where public banks come into play.

Through public banking, state and local governments can harness trillions of public money to finance solutions for the problems we face, whether it’s for affordable housing, public options for broadband and childcare, or clean energy infrastructure.


Getting the Work Done

Ameya led most all labor policy and worker rights legislation passed in Chicago between 2011-2019, including raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing paid sick leave, creating the Office for Labor Standards, combating wage theft, and preserving housing for Chicago’s most vulnerable. Ameya also chaired the Chicago Resilient Families Task Force before leaving office, the nation’s first city-led effort to study guaranteed income, the expansion of the earned income tax credit, and the future of work.

Elected to Alderman of 47th Ward in 2011

Re-elected 2015 with over 82% of the vote, the widest margin of victory in the city

Voted “Best Alderman” by Chicago Reader readers in 2014, 2015, 2016

Appointed co-chair of Working Families Task Force* in 2015. (Chicago)

Appointed to Minimum Wage Working Group in 2014. (Chicago)

Appointed to Illinois Innovation Council* in 2011 (Statewide)

Appointed to Asian American Employment Plan Council in 2013. (Statewide)

Obama Surrogate – 2012 campaign

Hear Firsthand From Ameya

Re-Imagine Chicago: Former Alderman Weighs In On Community Investment

WBEZ Chicago's Reset


The Case for Public Banks

In “Organize Capital: The Case for Public Banks,” Ameya explores how publicly-owned banks can help state and local governments finance new public options in childcare, housing, and broadband, give their constituents real choices in the marketplace, and reduce the cost of these critical services.  Drawing on personal experiences as a son of immigrants and a former Chicago Alderman, he illustrates the need for a public banking agenda to finance a future that gives everyone a chance to live the American Dream. Ameya’s work is supported by the Open Society Foundations and the Economic Security Project, and with the help of the team at University of Chicago Press, “Organize Capital: The Case for Public Banks” is set to hit stands in 2022.

Read the book

Emergency Management & Social Intelligence

Ameya is an expert on the connections between disaster planning and response and poverty. In 2014, Ameya co-wrote the textbook, “Emergency Management and Social Intelligence: A Comprehensive All-Hazards Approach.” The book was published by Taylor & Francis.

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