Michael Masters has quite the resume. At just 31, he’s acquired a law degree from Harvard, a Master’s in International Relations from the University of Cambridge and an impressive record of public service on behalf of the City of Chicago — serving in Mayor Daley’s office as an Assistant to the Mayor for Public Safety and now as the Chief of Staff to the Superintendent of Police, Jody P. Weis.
According to the Chicago Jewish News, which did an extensive cover story on Master’s back in March, Masters is, “Jewish and young and smart and modest and wouldn't look out of place in an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog or at one of Chicago's blue-blood law firms.”
Masters will be speaking at an upcoming Friends of the IDF Young Leadership event on May 12 and was gracious enough to take some time out of his very busy schedule to chat with Oy!Chicago:
Cheryl Jacobs: Jews aren’t particularly known for careers in the military or in law enforcement, as an officer in the United States Marine Corp and Chief of Staff of to the Superintendent of Police of the Chicago Police Department, what took you down this path? Did you always plan on a career in law enforcement?
Chief of Staff, Michael G. Masters: I have always been very drawn to public service. The notion of giving back – particularly by those who have had opportunities that many do not - is something that has always been stressed to me by my family. I also have been fortunate to have very good mentors and other people in my life who stressed the value of service, so it has always been my focus. Uniformed services – whether the military, police or fire – have a special significance to me; it is a unique calling for the individuals who make up these entities. I have been fortunate to be given the opportunity to work within and with these organizations.
I would also note, with respect to your question, that in my recent travels, I have met a large number of Jews who proudly serve in their nation’s military and law enforcement organizations…it is an important point to remember, particularly considering the threats that Israel has faced, and overcome.
Take us through your typical work day…
In reality, I have no typical day…which makes my position incredibly interesting, as well as challenging and rewarding. Usually my morning starts at about 4:50 in the morning when I reach for my Blackberry and go through the incidents that have occurred throughout the night, as well as any other information that might have come through; I also go through the newspapers for anything that might be going on or of interest. A lot of what we deal with on any given day is driven by the events that occur in the previous 24 hours. I get to the gym and make it to work between 7 and 7:30. Once at work, it is a balance between ensuring that information is flowing where it needs to, events and incidents are being attended to, guaranteeing that projects are being completed and that the Superintendent’s strategic vision as well as goals and objectives for the Department are being addressed and met. We are constantly working to ensure that the Superintendent’s and Mayor’s vision for the department are effectuated.
What do you love most about what you do?
The people that I have the opportunity to work for and to work with are what I enjoy most about my job; I believe that I have one of the most rewarding positions possible. First, I have had the unique fortune of working for two great leaders, both with amazing vision — the Mayor and the Superintendent.
Another incredible part of my position is the opportunity to work for an organization with the history and traditions of the Chicago Police Department and on behalf of our officers. The men and women of the Chicago Police Department are some of the most dedicated people that I have been privileged to know. Everyday, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they are out on the streets – answering calls, running down dark alleys, moving through buildings - working hard to serve and protect our city…and each of us. It is an honor to serve in a capacity where I can work to try to support their efforts to keep our streets safe, and help make the lives of the residents of our city better.
You just returned from a JUF law enforcement mission to Israel. What was your overall experience on the trip?
Visiting Israel in a law enforcement capacity is a very interesting experience made more unique by sharing it with individuals who have never been there before. It was a learning opportunity and a great observational experience as well. The Chicago Police Department is one of the most advanced departments in the world, in terms of technology, equipment and deployment and intelligence capabilities, so it was a great opportunity to share information and ideas with similarly situated police departments and organizations.
What was it like working with the IDF?
The interaction between the security agencies, police and military in Israel is truly unique; the IDF plays a large role in all of Israeli society – as most of your readership is aware – and they have a significant level of responsibility in a variety of areas outside of what most Americans would view as the role of a military organization in a democratic society. In Israel, this sharing of responsibility seems to work well; our briefings and meetings with the IDF, as well as opportunities for sharing information with the representatives from the military, was very interesting. The individuals we interacted with from the IDF were dedicated, mission-oriented and deeply committed to their country; it was a great experience working with them.
Can you give Oy!Chicago readers a preview of your talk for the May 12, FIDF Young Leadership event?
I will be discussing my observations regarding the training and capabilities of both the organizations that we interacted with [in Israel] as well as our own domestic law enforcement agencies. I will talk about the comparative capabilities of both, with a focus on best practices. Chicago is well ahead of the curve; we are one of the most advanced police departments in the country, both with respect to technology as well as the use of analytics and intelligence in deployments. The Mayor continually challenges us to work harder as well as smarter; at the Superintendent’s direction, the result has been an adaptive and advanced police agency. Our interaction with other entities, and the Israeli government in this case, demonstrated that; I will be discussing the nature of that capability in a variety of scenarios.
What's your favorite Jewish thing to do in Chicago?
Eat at Hub51.
Join Friends of the IDF Young Leadership for a dessert reception with Masters on Wednesday, May 12, at 7 pm. The event will take place at 250 East Pearson Street, 37th Floor. Tickets are $10 in advance/$15 at the door. Register here.