Associate Vice President and Managing Director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Samir is an accomplished leader with a track record of driving innovation and impact across the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. Most recently, he was deputy mayor for the city of Chicago, where he focused on economic and neighborhood development. He was a driving force behind initiatives such as INVEST South/West, the city’s signature community development initiative that marshaled resources from across city departments, community organizations, and corporate and philanthropic partners to support commercial corridors across several South and West Side neighborhoods. Before that, he served in the U.S. government during the Obama Administration, where he was part of the White House’s national security team and on the executive staff at the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation.
Samir also co-founded and served as CEO of NanoGraf Corporation, a global manufacturer of advanced materials for the lithium-ion battery industry that has raised over $100 million in funding and was spun out of Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University. He holds a B.A. and M.B.A. from Northwestern, where he served as a trustee, and he is active in the Chicago civic community, serving on the boards of the Metropolitan Pier and Exhibition Authority, Lyric Opera, and other organizations. He is also a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and is an alumnus of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship and the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.
As head of the Polsky Center, Samir plays a pivotal role in advancing the University’s innovation, technology commercialization, entrepreneurship, and partnership priorities. He fosters connections across the University, our city, region, and world that enable the Polsky Center to accelerate the commercialization of critical technologies to help solve some of society’s most urgent challenges. He also elevates efforts to help drive economic development on the South Side and strengthen partnerships that bolster the university’s and Chicago’s upward trajectory as hubs of world-class innovation.