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Chicago Mayor's Former Chief of Staff Joins Startup Zencity

Maurice Classen, who has a decade of government experience, has been hired as chief operating officer of Zencity after using the social analytics software to make leadership decisions during Chicago's COVID-19 response.

A former chief of staff for Chicago's mayor has joined the leadership team at Zencity, a technology company that analyzes social data for local governments nationwide.
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Maurice Classen has been named the new COO at Zencity.

Maurice Classen will serve as Zencity’s new chief operating officer (COO). Zencity analyzes millions of data points by pulling information from sources such as Facebook, Twitter, news agencies and 311 government customer service channels and reports the findings to government leaders. The technology aims to inform leaders about the issues the community is talking about and has partnered with about 300 local government agencies across the world.

As COO, Classen’s role will be to oversee day-to-day operations to help governments understand and use data when making decisions. Before joining the private company, Classen worked in the public sector for more than 10 years, recently serving as chief of staff to Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. He also served as director of strategy for the Chicago Police Department.

“Having served two mayors in one of the biggest cities in America, I can speak with experience as to how important solving the challenge of being more responsive and building trust is to the day-to-day work of local government,” said Classen, who led Chicago’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the social unrest following the murder of George Floyd. “Zencity was a key partner in helping Chicagoans in earning resident trust through leveraging their transformative tools. I am honored to join the company to bring what we learned there on the road to help cities, counties and local government agencies around the world thrive.”

While working as director of strategy at the Chicago Police Department, he led the creation of data dashboards that showed real-time data on use of force, hate crimes and community trust in the city. Before working in Chicago, Classen was a senior deputy prosecuting attorney for King County, Wash., for eight years, where he was the lead prosecutor for Seattle’s efforts to combat gangs and worked to “reduce gun violence through a mix of complex prosecution and community-based strategies.”

Classen also worked for the MacArthur Foundation from 2013-2018.

Eyal Feder-Levy and Ido Ivri founded Zencity in 2016, and the New York and Tel Aviv-based company has partnered with government agencies in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Israel. Zencity recently expanded its services to include an AI-powered ChatGPT tool that can write press releases and other resident communications.