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Ex-Obama Aide, Chance the Rapper's Dad Named Rahm's Neighborhood Liaison

By Ted Cox | January 3, 2014 3:48pm | Updated on January 3, 2014 5:16pm
 Ken Bennett, who has worked for President Barack Obama and Mayor Harold Washington, is joining the Emanuel administration.
Ken Bennett, who has worked for President Barack Obama and Mayor Harold Washington, is joining the Emanuel administration.
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City of Chicago

CITY HALL — The mayor is drawing from the Obama administration to boost his relations with neighborhood groups.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday named Ken Bennett deputy chief of staff and director of the Mayor's Office of Public Engagement. Bennett will be expected to connect with neighborhood and community leaders, thus "ensuring the resources of government are closely connected to the residents it serves."

"Our diverse neighborhoods and residents are the foundation of this great city," Emanuel said in a statement. "Ken will help ensure that the city continues to be engaged with all communities across Chicago, and his background and experience make him well-suited to serve in this role for my administration."

 Chance the Rapper (center) hugs his mom, Lisa Bennett and dad, Ken Bennett after Sunday's sold-out concert at Metro.
Chance the Rapper (center) hugs his mom, Lisa Bennett and dad, Ken Bennett after Sunday's sold-out concert at Metro.
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DNAinfo/ Mark Konkol

Bennett most recently held a Midwest position with the federal Labor Department and previously served as White House deputy assistant under President Barack Obama and deputy director of presidential personnel. He was a state director for Obama as U.S. senator and for his 2008 presidential campaign, and he has also worked on statewide campaigns for Attorney General Lisa Madigan and other candidates as Chicago regional director for the Democratic Party of Illinois.

Bennett's son is up-and-coming Chicago musician Chance the Rapper.

He's been supportive of his son's music, which combines psychedelia with hip-hop and has examined some of the problems facing young people in Chicago.

“He could sing about a lot of other things, but he’s talking about some of the challenges young people are facing today,” Bennett told DNAinfo Chicago in May. “It’s not just getting out and going to school and coming home and doing homework.”

The Chatham resident got his start in politics as an aide to Mayor Harold Washington.

"I am honored to serve as the director of the Office of Public Engagement and look forward to working with members of our diverse communities and assisting residents throughout the city," Bennett said. "I am eager to begin cultivating opportunities to enhance the working relationships between our community, non-profit and religious partners."

Emanuel created the Office of Public Engagement last June and charged it with connecting neighborhoods and community leaders with city agencies such as Chicago Alternative Policing Strategies and the Commission on Human Relations.

CONTRIBUTING: Mark Konkol