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Tenth Decade Project
Founder & CEO
Steve Hagerty is the founder and CEO of Hagerty Consulting, a management consulting firm that helps clients prepare for and recover from disasters. In 2017, he was elected mayor of Evanston, Illinois, running on a platform to expand economic development in all neighborhoods, strengthen youth development in order to reduce violence, and to maintain diversity through affordable housing.
After graduating from Maxwell in 1993, Steve took a job as a management consultant with Price Waterhouse's Office of Government Services in Washington, DC. There he built a multi-million dollar FEMA practice and in August 2001, left to work as an independent consultant. In 2002, Steve incorporated Hagerty Consulting. Today, the 100 person company is one of the nation's leading emergency management consulting firms called upon to handle some of the most complex and politically sensitive projects, including facilitating the development of the 8 state, 4 Federal Region New Madrid Seismic Zone Catastrophic Operational Response Plan, managing the $1.4B Federal Community Disaster Loan Program after Hurricane Katrina, helping the New England Region develop a catastrophic Mass Care and Sheltering Plan, supporting the State of Mississippi in implementing a $280M Alternative Housing Program after Katrina, and assisting New York City manage the $8B recovery as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
A typical day for Steve includes communicating with clients on particular issues, providing strategic or mentoring advice to Project Executives and Project Managers, reviewing contracts, budgets, and price proposals, and participating in strategy meetings on business development opportunities. On those less than typical days, he's travelling to meet with a client or team, speaking at a conference, or just trying to find quiet time to think.
One standout memory for Steve in his career was the recovery efforts after September 11, 2001: "I doubt I'll ever have another project as meaningful as helping the City of New York recover after 9/11. I worked with an amazing group of dedicated public servants and consultants, several of whom went to Maxwell, to disburse Federal Aid to the City for search and rescue efforts, debris removal, death benefits, emergency transportation, and infrastructure repairs. It was a job we were all deeply honored to do because there wasn't anyone in the country who didn't want to help in some way after that tragic day."
Steve is quick to point out how useful his training at Maxwell has been for his career: "Since graduating, there isn't a day that goes by when I don't use the knowledge or skills I learned at Maxwell. Equally important, I've been able to combine my passion for improving the public sector with my lifelong pursuit of building a great company."
While he has a difficult time deciding which class was the most useful for his career, Steve notes that Quantitative Methods with Professor Duncombe was his favorite, "because I learned enough about statistics and analytical methods to ask the right questions." He also notes that public budgeting was particularly helpful because it gave him a basic understanding regarding how governments raise revenues to meet expenditures.
His advice for current students? "Be true to your values. The world we live in desperately needs people who ground their decisions in values that make a difference, that say that community is as important as self."
Steve can be contacted at
To read the 2007 Convocation Address that Steve gave to the 2007 graduating Maxwell MPA class,