About Larry Svabek

Larry Svabek works as a Lecturer and Fellow at the University of Chicago teaching courses in history, political science, and critical race and ethnic studies. He enjoys spending his weekends at Kathy Osterman Beach or biking on the lakefront path. Larry resides in Andersonville with his two spunky but loving cats, Sam and Harlow. 


Larry has volunteered on political campaigns and organized for progressive candidates at all levels of government. Most recently, in 2020, Larry traveled to Iowa during the Democratic primaries to campaign for Elizabeth Warren for President. The renewed attention on police violence that emerged in 2020 prompted Larry to action and he became more involved in local organizing. Larry joined his fellow northsiders in pressing for greater police accountability and oversight. He considers himself a consensus builder and worked on negotiations between competing groups to form a broader coalition for police reform. That effort ultimately led to the passage of the historic Empowering Communities for Public Safety ordinance. 


Larry earned a PhD in Political Science at the University of Chicago, researching the local, state, and federal plans to redistribute planter-owned land among the formerly enslaved people of the South after the Civil War. He believes that a better understanding of our nation’s formative political crisis is vital to strengthening American democracy in the present. Larry’s research has fueled his interest in local government and confirmed his belief that local officeholders have a responsibility to encourage political participation.


Larry asistió a la universidad de Northwestern, donde estudió Economía y Ciencias Políticas. Persiguió su interés en servir a la comunidad mediante la coordinación de voluntarios para el programa de servicio comunitario de Northwestern y escribió memorandos de política para el Instituto Roosevelt de Políticas Públicas, un grupo de expertos progresista impulsado por estudiantes. Las breves temporadas que trabajó para un bufete de abogados y en una oficina del Congreso en Washington, D.C. ayudaron a Larry a darse cuenta de que quería continuar su educación para avanzar en nuestra comprensión de cómo funcionan las democracias. 


Larry grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago. The son of an elementary school teacher and a third-generation family business owner, he learned first-hand the importance of a strong work ethic and a commitment to one’s education. Larry first became involved in local government when his mom ran for and served on his hometown’s school board. By watching her advocate for students with disabilities and stand up to administrators who put the financial bottom-line over students’ experience, Larry saw the importance of principled local leadership. He followed in her footsteps in high school, serving as the youngest president of the Orland Township Youth Commission where he expanded programming for seniors. 

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